The Jewish Rohingya Justice Network (JRJN) is committed to ending the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya people. We stand strongly with the Rohingya people who have fled the genocide against them in Burma to Bangladesh, where they continue to face restrictions on their livelihoods, movement, and access to healthcare and education.
In light of the recent news that a group of approximately 3,000 Rohingya people are expected to be forcibly relocated by the Bangladeshi government to the flood and cyclone-prone island of Bhasan Char in November, we call on the United States government to strongly condemn this dangerous move that places Rohingya people at further risk.
This first wave of relocating Rohingya persons to Bhasan Char will be followed by many more. The government of Bangladesh has been very public about its plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya to this dangerous island off the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in an attempt to address overcrowding in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and the strain on host communities. Despite promises from the Bangladeshi government that all of these people from the Rohingya community have “volunteered” to go, the Rohingya community has been clear that they strongly oppose being relocated.
The current state of conditions on Bhasan Char remains deeply concerning as United Nations agencies have not been granted access to the island since September 2018. When staff from a number of UN agencies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, visited Bhasan Char last year, their trip was quite brief. Additionally, a safety and security assessment of the island, including an evaluation of the sea wall constructed in anticipation of the severe weather events, has not been completed.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has repeatedly warned that the Bangladeshi government’s forced relocation of the Rohingya to the island would “create a new crisis,” and she has strongly expressed her concerns about “whether the island is truly habitable.”
As a network of Jewish organizations and people, we know the horrors and indignities of ongoing genocide. We recall the pain of being forced to live in places not of our own choosing, with conditions so inhumane. Acting on our commitment to speak out in support of the Rohingya people’s demands in Cox’s Bazar, we implore members of the U.S. Congress, as well as all U.S. government officials, to condemn this move immediately and in the strongest terms.
The Jewish Rohingya Justice Network is the powerful consortium of Jewish NGOs advocating for the rights of the persecuted Rohingya people of Burma. JRJN’s membership includes 26 organizations and all four major branches of American Judaism—all standing together against genocide.
Jewish Rohingya Justice Network Members include: American Jewish Committee, American Jewish World Service, The Association of Rabbis and Cantors, Anti-Defamation League, Cantors Assembly, HIAS, Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, JACOB, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish World Watch, The Orthodox Union, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, T’ruah and The Union for Reform Judaism. Allies: Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Hebrew College, The Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, The New York Board of Rabbis, The Shalom Center and Uri L’Tzedek.
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David L. Marcus