A press release from the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has slammed the Australian government for failing to act urgently in defence of the Rohingya people of Myanmar.
“The Australian government must act urgently to assist Myanmar’s Rohingya people, as the crisis in the Rakhine state deepens. Shocking reports from the region include murders of children, attacks on civilians, rape and concerns of genocide.”
The Rohingya are a majority Muslim ethnic group settled in majority Buddhist Myanmar. Although the Rohingya people have lived in Myanmar for centuries, they have been denied citizenship since 1982 and are not included in the nation’s 135 other official ethnic groups, rendering them internally displaced. Increasingly violent circumstances have caused huge numbers of Rohingya people to flee.
RCOA called on the Turnbull Government to take immediate action earlier this month through political pressure, diplomacy, emergency aid and the provision of resettlement places for those affected.
The RCOA argues Australia “has the opportunity to demonstrate real political leadership.” The opportunity is likely to be missed in the name of deliberation. The RCOA reported that “foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop said that Australia would commit another $15m in humanitarian support to assist those affected,” but also that “the Australian Government has offered payment to Rohingya refugees who return to Myanmar.”