Mindanao Times

The Rohingya refugee crisis in key dates


THE MYANMAR military launched a ferocious crackdown against its Rohingya Muslim population in 2017, driving around 740,000 into neighbouri­ng Bangladesh.

On Tuesday the UN’s top court, the Internatio­nal Court of Justice (ICJ), is hearing a case brought by Gambia accusing Myanmar of genocide against the Rohingya.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is leading the delegation to The Hague to defend the military.

Here are key dates in the crisis:

- Army operations On August 25, 2017 Rohingya militants stage coordinate­d attacks on police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, killing at least a dozen officers.

The army retaliates with operations in Rohingya villages ostensibly to flush out insurgents.

It says it killed 400 rebels but opponents say most of the dead were civilians.

The United Nations says at least 1,000 people lost their lives in the first two weeks of the military operations.

- Refugee exodus By September 5 more than 120,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh, overwhelmi­ng its ill-equipped refugee camps.

Many speak of abuses by the army and members of the Rakhine ethnic group, who are majority Buddhist.

There are already at least 200,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh from previous waves of violence.

- Suu Kyi breaks silence Internatio­nal anger mounts against Myanmar. Soldiers are accused of razing Rohingya homes and some world leaders allege “ethnic cleansing”.

In her first statement on the crisis, Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi pledges on September 19 to hold rights violators to account but refuses to blame the army.

She says she is open to bringing some of the exiled Rohingya home pending a “verificati­on process”.

- UN raises possible

‘genocide’ -

Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23 agree to start repatriati­ng refugees.

But the UN High Commission­er for Refugees says conditions are not in place for their safe return and the process halts.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on December 5 warns of possible “elements of genocide” and calls for an internatio­nal investigat­ion.

- Reporters jailed On

September 3, 2018 two Reuters journalist­s accused of breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law while reporting on a Rohingya massacre are jailed for seven years.

They are eventually released on a presidenti­al pardon after more than 500 days behind bars on May 7, 2019. - Courts and sanctions On August 25, 2018 tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees stage protests to mark the first anniversar­y of their exodus.

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