In this week's episode Laura Round explores our recent publication 'Britain breaking barriers' with our commissioners the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP and the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP. The report includes policies to strengthen human rights and tackle all forms of discrimination. Bright Blue director Ryan Shorthouse and senior researcher James Dobson also join the show to discuss some of these policies in more depth
Northern Ireland is in the news just now because of the continuing negotiations between the minority Conservative government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). From a human rights point of view that is problematic in a number of ways, ranging from the extreme social conservatism of the DUP to potential damage to the peace process through having the representatives of one side of the community here in alliance with the UK Government, a.k.a. “honest broker.” However, there is one area where the obstacle to a human rights based solution is the UK Government itself, albeit supported by the DUP.
This area is called “dealing with the past,” or, more commonly nowadays, “legacy” matters. Whatever you call it, this is a question of dealing with the fall-out from “the troubles,” which is the euphemism for a violent political conflict that, proportionate to Northern Ireland’s population, killed almost twice as many as the number of civilians who died in the UK during World War 2. Twenty years after the peace agreement, there is still no comprehensive way of dealing with the needs for justice and compensation for those bereaved or maimed as a result of the conflict.
Human rights activists see this as, firstly, a continuing breach of the UK Government’s obligation under the European Convention of Human Rights to properly investigate killings and torture and, secondly, as a violation of the victims’ right to truth. This is not, therefore, a matter of living in the past or rewriting history – it is question of applying the rule of law. Specifically, in the case of killings carried out by state agents, it is the pursuit of a major aim of human rights activists across the world – combating impunity.
There are up to 2,000 cases involving death during the conflict that have not been satisfactorily resolved. In the late nineties, CAJ and others took a sample of cases to the European Court of Human Rights. In the 2001 judgements on the McKerr group of cases the court found that the UK state had an obligation to carry out effective and independent investigations under Article 2 (Right to Life) of the European Convention. These cases are still unresolved, still under scrutiny by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and still the UK Government is making excuses for inaction. There has been a “package of measures” in place, including the police Historical Enquiry Team which was disbanded after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found it was biased in favour of British soldiers.
There were two attempts at devising a comprehensive mechanism for dealing with the past; the last Labour Government refused to implement the first, the Coalition government refused to implement the second. Finally, the parties and the two governments made the Stormont House Agreement at the end of 2014. In rather general terms, this Agreement suggested four interlocking institutions to investigate deaths, develop an oral history archive, provide a secure mechanism for truth recovery and provide a thematic history of the conflict.
Over the last two and a half years, negotiations have continued on how to implement the Agreement. CAJ and a number of academics even produced a Model Bill that could implement it in a human rights compliant way. When the UK Government demanded an extraordinarily wide “national security” veto on what information could be given to families, we proposed formulations that would recognise the need to keep people safe and protect legitimate and contemporary security methods. It appears that these have been rejected and we expect a draft Bill to go out for consultation over the summer which will contain unacceptable power for Ministers to determine what information will enter the public domain.
Meanwhile, Government Ministers, prominent Tories and some of the press have conducted an extraordinary campaign of vilification against the current mechanisms, including police investigations and inquests, claiming imbalance against state actors and against both private lawyers and law officers. This campaign, reminiscent of a climate created before the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989, in an act of collusion between security forces and loyalist gunmen, is documented in a Human Rights First report.
A recent report of the Defence Select Committee, hurriedly completed before the dissolution of Parliament, has gone so far as to call for a “statute of limitations” – effectively an amnesty – for all British soldiers. As well as being illegal under international law, such a provision would show contempt for the rule of law and put the UK in the unsavoury company of dictatorships round the world which have indulged in “self-amnesties” to cover up their crimes.
So, we await a consultation process on a draft Bill to implement the Stormont House Agreement over the summer, although reference to the subject in the Queen’s Speec was vague and watered down from previous commitments. Meanwhile the United Nations Human Rights Committee is pursuing the issue of “accountability for conflict-related violations in Northern Ireland” in its urgent “follow-up procedure” to the 7th Periodic Report on the UK under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In response to its request, CAJ has just written a submission detailing events since 2015 which will shortly be available.
The legacy of the troubles haunts the people of Northern Ireland. If this government is not to see its legacy sullied round the world in human rights terms, it needs to issue sensible draft legislation as a matter of urgency and move quickly to enact implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.
Brian Gormally is Director of the Northern Ireland based Committee on the Administration of Justice
On June 27th, Oscar Pérez, a former captain in the Venezuelan intelligence services, hijacked a police helicopter and assaulted the country’s Supreme Court and Interior Ministry with grenades and gunfire. No-one was killed or injured, however the incident marked another dramatic chapter in the anti-government protests in Venezuela which began this March following the decision by President Maduro’s Supreme Court to dissolve the National Assembly and transfer legislative power to the Supreme Court.
Almost 100 people have already died during these protests, and numerous human rights violations have been documented, however there is currently little prospect of an end to the civil unrest. In fact, the Pérez attack suggest that the situation will deteriorate further as Maduro’s enemies in the military attempt to forcibly prevent his consolidation of power.
Civil unrest has been widespread in Venezuela since 2014 in response to a combination of violent crime, economic problems, and growing government authoritarianism.
The initial protests in 2014 began in response to the attempted rape of an student in the border city of San Cristóbal. The heavy-handed response of the police to these small initial protests caused them to quickly spread around the country, eventually claiming 43 lives, including both police officers and protestors.
The protests were also reported to be motivated by anger at the lawlessness in much of the country. In 2015, the Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (OVV) calculated that the murder rate had soared to 90 murders per 100,000 residents, a higher rate than even Colombia. As the protests grew, they began to serve as a vehicle for Venezuelans to express other grievances, most importantly with regards to the collapsing economy.
The economy of Venezuela is almost solely reliant on oil production, with 95% of Venezuela’s export earnings coming from oil. In 2014, the price of oil halved, immediately sending Venezuela into a deep recession. In 2016, GDP contracted by 10%, and inflation exploded to 720%, leading to shortages in food and medicine. The government has been unable to continue it’s high level of spending on welfare and public services, the result of this has been that 82% of Venezuelans now live in poverty. This economic disaster has been perhaps the primary cause of the protests, and in 2015 Maduro’s socialist party lost their majority in the National Assembly, Venezuela’s parliament.
It was in response to the increasing tenuousness of his grip on power that Maduro introduced the constitutional changes that precipitated the 2017 protests. Since the 2015 elections, opposition leaders have been arrested or banned from political activity, and power has been channelled from the opposition majority National Assembly into the Supreme Court, which is sympathetic to Maduro. Consequently, almost every piece of legislation passed by the National Assembly since the election has been blocked by the Supreme Court.
On the 29th March, the Supreme Court officially removed the legislative powers of the National Assembly. They reversed this decision on the 1st April in the face of international condemnation and popular protest, however Maduro is now pressing ahead with plans to introduce a new constituent assembly that will introduce constitutional changes. Opposition parties have condemned this move as an indirect way of removing political opposition prior to the 2018 presidential election, an election the Maduro would likely lose.
Huge anti-government protests began almost immediately after the Supreme Court decision, culminating in the “Mother of all Marches” on April 19th, which involved several hundred thousand protestors. Almost every day since has featured protests somewhere in the country, with many featuring violence by protestors and police.
Human rights abuses against protestors
Venezuela withdrew from the Inter-American Court of Human Right in 2013, leaving citizens without recourse to international human rights law during a period in which human rights violations have increased dramatically. Over 11,000 reports of human rights violations were presented to the Public Prosecutor’s office in 2015, with only 77 trials actually being initiated during the year. No concerted effort was made after the 2014 protests by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz to prosecute security forces accused of widespread abuses; including arbitrary arrests, torture, and murder of peaceful protestors.
During 2017, the situation has worsened as the protests have intensified. It is estimated that in 2017 alone, 95 people have been killed during protests and 2000 injured. Whilst security forces have been charged for some of these incidents, many have not been investigated, and senior officers have not been held responsible for their brutal tactics. 355 protestors have been tried at military tribunals, journalists have been arbitrarily detained and imprisoned, and confessions have been obtained from protestors under torture.
The extent of government’s responsibility for these abuses is debateable. The collapse in popular support for Maduro has made him increasingly reliant on the police and military to maintain his rule. Accordingly, Human Rights Watch have suggested that Maduro offers tacit support for the abuses as he has repeatedly praised the response of the security forces to the protests, and has never condemned the rights abuses taking place. Instead he has repeatedly condemned the protests, describing them as an attempted “fascist coup” orchestrated by the United States in order to “provoke an imperialist intervention”.
Maduro’s defence of the police and military was undermined this month when Attorney General Ortega Diaz broke ranks and charged both the former national guard chief, and the current head of the intelligence services, with human rights violations against anti-government protestors. Maduro responded by describing both the accused as “brave patriots” who “have defended the peace of the republic and have all my support”. The government’s refusal to investigate human rights violations, and their collusion in the defence of suspected human rights abusers, has therefore been exposed for all to see.
A former Maduro Loyalist, Ortega Diaz has emerged as an unexpected source of official opposition to his presidency, after strongly contesting the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the opposition controlled parliament in March. However the prospects of Ortega Diaz providing effective long-term opposition to Maduro’s authoritarianism are dim as she is an isolated figure. The Supreme Court recently froze her bank accounts and banned her from leaving the country, whilst also removing various powers traditionally held by the Chief Prosecutor’s office.
The future for Venezuela looks increasingly bleak as sectarian violence increases. Maduro’s decision to change the constitution in his favour is likely to mobilise opposition to his rule, with some fearing that an escalation into civil war is possible.
Freddie Lloyd is a research assistant at Bright Blue
Britain breaking barriers:
Strengthening human rights and tackling discrimination
17th July 2017
Britain is the home of human rights and a global force for good. After Brexit, Britain should not just be a global leader in free trade, but in human rights too. In this country, as a result of discrimination, too many people are still held back — especially in education and employment — because of who they are rather than what they do.
After a year-long inquiry led by a commission of high-profile decision makers and opinion formers, this report provides a comprehensive and compelling set of policies which can be used by the current Government for its social reform agenda to strengthen human rights and tackle all forms of discrimination.
In this week's episode Laura Round talks to Konstanty Gebert from the European Council on Foreign Relations about a recent vote in Poland that risks undermining the independence of the judiciary, and discusses the refugee crisis in Italy with Bright Blue's research assistant Neil Reilly.
Every summer, from June until September, Italy serves as the front line in Europe’s efforts to deal with the ongoing refugee crisis. Long from the front pages of major newspapers, this humanitarian crisis has rumbled on in the background, a steady stream of thousands fleeing across the Mediterranean, mostly from Libya, with 2,030 having died so far this year. This is a burden that Italy views as unfair, and a burden they feel is exacerbated by the actions of their European partners, which has led to divisions within the bloc over how to react to the crisis. While Europe seeks an agreement, the busiest period in the trafficking of refugees across the Mediterranean continues unabated, and with a huge humanitarian toll.
The Current Situation
Over 500,000 people have landed in Italian ports as refugees since 2014, the largest portion of these people arriving in the summer months, putting significant annual strain on Italian asylum policy. This comes after France, Switzerland, Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia have all either partially implemented or wholesale adopted border closures in order to stymie the flow of refugees from Greece and Italy into their countries. The situation between Italy and its neighbours has deteriorated sharply in the last couple of years. The Mediterranean country got into a spat with Switzerland following the country’s decision to clamp down on the number of refugees crossing the Swiss-Italian border in the summer of 2016. In the last few weeks however, Italy’s relations with its neighbours have worsened sharply, after seeing a 20% rise in the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean compared to this time last year.
In response to the on-going situation, and the lack of any concrete action taken by the EU to alleviate it, Austria announced it was preparing to send 750 soldiers to secure border crossings with Italy. The soldiers, and armoured vehicles, are stationed near the Brenner Pass, and would be ready for deployment within 72 hours should a ‘migration emergency’ trigger Vienna’s decision to block the crossing. While Austria pursued a similar strategy with Slovenia in 2015, the fact that an EU foreign minister openly condemns the lack of control over the crisis, and threatens to contravene the continent’s commitment to free movement and open borders, has caused concern. Italy summoned the Austrian ambassador, who stood by the country’s position, which many claim has been partially affected by Austrian elections in the autumn of 2016, where the Freedom Party of Austria, a right-wing populist party, came close to securing the Austrian Presidency.
In the face of division amongst its members, the EU is set to meet several times in the coming weeks to try and reach some sort of agreement on how to diffuse the situation and avoid a situation as bad as previous summers, which led to thousands of deaths and strained services in Mediterranean countries. While a previous EU agreement committed to resettling 160,000 refugees, only 12,000 have so far been settled. Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni accused other European nations of “looking the other way”, including prominent members such as France. In response, the EU has launched legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland; all of whom have failed to meet their refugee target.
The pace of EU action has not proved sufficient in Italy though, and the country has touted some radical policies to try and deal with the crisis on its own. One such policy that was floated was a parallel of Australia’s refugee system, where they would turn away any boats from their shores that were not affiliated with their own coastguard, which many assume would lead to similar offshore detention centres to the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea. Human rights groups have reacted angrily to such suggestions, claiming that aid is the obligation of the country most immediate to the crisis, which in this case would be Italy. The rise of Silvio Berlusconi’s political career from the ashes of his resignation amid scandal, on a platform that promised to put an end to this series of humiliating and debilitating crises, has injected some urgency into Italy’s politicians to address the situation.
In response to these political developments and condemnation from human rights groups, Italy announced plans to subject non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the Mediterranean to a code of conduct drawn up by the Italian Government, similar to the one used by its own coastguard. This will essentially cede control of the humanitarian situation in the region to the Italian Government. This move comes after accusations from Libya however that these NGOs create a pull factor for refugees, and are helping destabilise Libya, and drive the large number of deaths in the region. Furthermore, NGOs have been accused of violating international law and operating in Libyan territory without oversight or permission. This is another bone of contention Italy has with its European neighbours, whose NGOs are often the ones disembarking refugees on its southern shores, helping to create and refusing to help solve the problem.
The situation in Italy is at risk once again of boiling over into a broader crisis, as tensions rise between European partners, and the country’s electorate signals an appetite for decisive action. It is against this backdrop, that the EU will meet to decide future refugee policy.
Neil Reilly is a research assistant at Bright Blue
This new Conservative government takes office at a crucial time for UK leadership on the global stage. ‘Brexit’ may dominate the domestic agenda, but we cannot renegotiate our relationship to Europe without examining our role as a global leader. We are in the midst of a global displacement crisis and consequently, a challenge to international values of human rights, the likes of which we have not experienced since World War Two. In 1951 British lawyers led the drafting of the Refugee and Geneva Conventions, a heroic response to a world in ruins. Today the challenges are different, but the need for courage and vision from world leaders is just as pressing. The UK must build and maintain these values in the face of this crisis.
Over the last five years we have grown used to the images of refugees fleeing war and persecution seeking sanctuary in Europe, but these offer a wildly distorted picture of global displacement. Contrary to common perception, most refugees – 84 percent – are hosted in developing countries, often with little infrastructure to help, and never even consider travel to richer countries. Perhaps even more strikingly, the vast majority of people who are forced from their homes through conflict or disaster have not yet crossed international borders, to be officially classed as ‘a refugee’. The tens of millions of ‘internally displaced people’ (IDPs) outnumber refugees two to one, yet their stories are rarely heard. Those who, by choice or by necessity, stay behind in their war torn and politically unstable homelands, struggling every day to survive. For them, the situation is deteriorating, as health and education systems collapse, food supply chains are disrupted and basic infrastructure is destroyed by conflict.
There are 65.6 million people forcibly displaced around the globe; 40.3 million of those, or more than six out of ten, are IDPs. In Syria, there are 6.3 million internally displaced people; in Iraq 2.3m. Most of these people have been displaced for prolonged periods of time, and as the conflicts intensify this is only expected to rise. The decades-long conflict in Colombia has left over 7.4m displaced, and the devastating famines across East Africa make this a new epicentre of mass displacement whose consequences will be felt for many years.
We cannot limit who we help based on lines on a map or the status of individuals – whether they are IDPs or refugees has little impact on their humanitarian needs that must be addressed in a principled and needs-based manner. IDPs, by the very nature of remaining in fragile and conflict affected states, are often more vulnerable than refugees, who have fled to ‘safer’ places, but they are less visible and under-resourced. While research into the complexity of internal displacement is still emerging, we already know from long experience that many refugees were first internally displaced. Is today’s IDP tomorrow’s refugee?
In September 2018, a UN summit will agree two new Compacts on refugees and migrants. This is a major opportunity to demonstrate British leadership on the world stage and highlight the plight and needs of displaced populations. There must be four priorities.
Firstly, it must be ambitious. Many agencies are rightly insisting on no backsliding on existing protections, but that is not enough for 21st century challenges. The Refugee Convention ignores two thirds of those forced to flee; fails to recognise issues from persecution based on sexual orientation to environmental displacement; and leaves many behind. UNHCR’s mandate only covers cross-border refugees; there is no agency responsible for IDPs. The Compacts must not miss these opportunities to get ahead of the curve in the century of migration.
Secondly, there must be urgent attention to the in adequacy of the international humanitarian system. People are displaced for, on average, 17 years, many are displaced multiple times, and most live outside camps in poor host communities. Disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, and most are not legally classified as refugees. Thus, we require a new approach to the design and delivery of humanitarian aid for those forced from their homes that recognizes the needs and rights of all those on the move, not just those that cross international borders. The UN bureaucracy – and the developing and middle-income countries who host the majority of refugees and IDPs – are failing to adapt to this new norm.
Thirdly, funding. The UN reports that displacement situations are consistently underfunded and too often donors do not follow through on the pledges they make. The UK’s response to the four famines across East Africa, and at the 2016 London-based Supporting Syria and the Region Conference, are models of leadership – but with the Trump administration’s withdrawal of aid funds and the recurring reality of ‘donor fatigue’, the UK must redouble its efforts to establish predictable, multi-year funding from all donors.
Finally, the Compacts must be rights-based. Northern states including the UK favour a ‘command and control’ approach to migrants and refugees, emphasising border controls, legal categorisation and statistics. This managerial approach not only rides roughshod over the highly complex reasons people move and the choices they make, but in too many cases allows governments to continue violating the rights of citizens and refugees with impunity. Human rights and humanitarian principles must come first.
The UN has set the table for world leaders to sign agreements that can enhance the rights and dignity of all people on the move and create a structure for true cooperation. Our history shows that in moments of crisis the world can come together and choose the right, if not the easiest, path. Time and again the UK has been at the forefront of these efforts. Will we rise to the challenge?
Tom Viita is Head of Advocacy at Christian Aid
In this week's episode Laura Round discusses the current situation in Hong Kong with Ben Rogers. Are we seeing an inevitable encroachment of Chinese authoritarianism into Hong Kong?
As the EU and Turkey meet to try and re-start the country's long-derailed bid for membership, further evidence of the grave crackdown on human rights and the free press is coming to light. Dr Jenny White, from the Turkey Institute, tells us more about the situation. Laura Round is joined by our Research Assistant Freddie Lloyd to discuss the alleged human rights abuses by Myanmar's armed forces against the Rohingya people.
Myanmar recently entered the 69th year of what is considered to be the world’s longest running civil war. There are at least 15 armies involved in the conflict against Myanmar’s government, each representing a different ethnic group or region, and each involved in a series of fragile alliances and ceasefires. One aspect of this conflict that has received particular international attention in recent years concerns alleged human rights abuses by Myanmar’s armed forces against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the eastern state of Rakhine. This month the State Counsellor, and de facto leader, of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi announced that she would refuse to allow a proposed UN fact-finding mission permission to enter Myanmar to investigate these allegations, further increasing suspicion concerning the severity of the offences taking place in the region.
A troubled history
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group in Myanmar, a country in which roughly 90% of the population identify as Buddhist. They have lived on the western coast of Myanmar in the state of Rakhine since the 15th century, with their numbers increasing dramatically through immigration from neighbouring Bengal during British rule. Throughout this time there has been tension and sporadic violence between the Rohingya and native Burmese groups, such as the Rakhine Buddhists.
This ethnic tension increased throughout the 20th century. During the Second World War, the Rohingya sided with, and were armed by, the British; whilst the Rakhine Buddhists generally fought on the side of Japan, as they believed the Japanese would offer them independence if victorious. After the British reclaimed Myanmar, the Rohingya unsuccessfully demanded that Rakhine be annexed to Pakistan; the legacy of these events served to divide the groups even further.
Since the Second World War, the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar has steadily worsened against a background of almost continuous ethnic warfare throughout the country. The civil war began in 1948, immediately after Burma gained independence from Britain. Initially the conflict involved a fight for power between the newly formed nationalist government and communist rebels; there was also a second conflict between the government and the separatist Christian Karen minority. Over the decades these conflicts have multiplied, and now involve upwards of 15 armies and separatist groups.
Fighting in Rakhine state has been sporadic, with most of the conflict in the civil war involving separatist groups in the east of Myanmar. However armed Rohingya insurgency movements have existed in various iterations throughout this time, although they have never numbered more than a few hundred soldiers, and have offered little threat to the nation’s military.
In spite of this limited threat, the actions of these small resistance forces have often been used by the military as a pretext for repressive measures against Rohingya civilians. For example, in 1977-78, 200,000 Rohingya fled into Bangladesh due to brutality and repression by Myanmar’s army, before eventually being repatriated back to Rakhine state. Since this period, neither Bangladesh nor Myanmar have been willing to accept the Rohingya as citizens, so the process of refugees fleeing and then being forcibly repatriated has been repeated several times, most notably in 1992, and again over the last few years.
The latest phase of the conflict in Rakhine began in 2012 with a series of anti-Muslim riots in the north of the state, encouraged by some local political and Buddhist groups. Conservative estimates suggest that hundreds of Rohingya were killed (including 70 in one day in the village of Yan Thei) and 140,000 were displaced. The role of the Burmese army in the riots is unclear, however Human Rights Watch suggests that “all of the state security forces…are implicated in failing to prevent atrocities or directly participating in them, including…the army and navy”. Furthermore, the authorities did not prosecute anyone for the human rights violations carried out during the riots, feeding the idea that Rohingya Muslims could be attacked with impunity.
In April 2016, Nobel peace prize winner and democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi was elected as State Counsellor for Myanmar with the promise that she would transition Myanmar away from military rule, and work to end the civil war. Suu Kyi initially made concerted attempts at a rapprochement between the various parties in the conflict, for example by creating a government advisory committee on Rakhine chaired by Kofi Annan and by organising a series of peace conferences involving all sides in the conflict, the most recent of which took place in May 2017.
However in general her response to the violence against Rohingya Muslims has been strongly criticised by human rights groups. She did not condemn the 2012 riots and repeatedly refused to acknowledge the evidence of state-organised violence against the Rohingya. This refusal is most likely an attempt to keep the still powerful generals on side, and to maintain support amongst Myanmar’s Buddhist majority, who largely support the army’s actions in Rakhine.
Her inaction on this issue became particularly obvious during the most recent escalation of the conflict, which began in October 2016 after nine Myanmarese border officers were killed by Rohingya militants during an attack on a military outpost. The response by Myanmar’s military forces was swift and brutal. It has been estimated that since November 2016 over a thousand Rohingya have been killed and over 168,000 have fled abroad. A report by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, based on interviews with displaced Rohingya, contains multiple accounts of child killing, gang rape and other human rights violations. These estimates are necessarily uncertain as a clear picture of the extent of the violence is not possible because journalists and aid workers have been prohibited from entering the state since the conflict began, despite the fact that the military claims the conflict ended in February 2017.
Very recently in May 2017, the UN belatedly led a fact-finding mission to investigate these allegations against Myanmar’s military forces. However this week, Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected this mission, saying that it would create “greater hostility between different communities”. The situation therefore shows little sign of improving, with a report by the International State Crime Initiative even suggesting that an escalation into genocide against the Rohingya is possible.
Violence against the Rohingya appears to be on the increase, with elements of the government and military in Myanmar seemingly set on driving the group out of the country. The initial hope of many that Aung San Suu Kyi would prevent further ethnic violence has proved naïve, as internal politics in Myanmar militates against defending an unpopular minority. Whilst this issue is receiving increased media coverage in the West, there appears to be little prospect of action by the international community against Myanmar. Currently the best hope for the Rohingya is that the UN develops a tougher stance against Myanmar, or that other regional powers become more amenable to accepting refugees.