'What country is next?' Amnesty director warns inaction on Rohingya crisis could lead to wider abuse

CBC reporter Nahlah Ayed watched the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in 2017. She recently returned and was let into the country. She told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti what she learned there.

Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar allege violence, rape and murder at hands of the military

Foreign media gathered along the fence of 'no man's land' between Myanmar and Bangladesh. A year ago, about a thousand Rohingya lived in tents and fragile huts. Today, there are more than 5,000 people in the sprawling camp. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)
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World leaders could set a dangerous precedent if they don't respond to allegations of persecution against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, according to a director at Amnesty International.

Inaction would leave an 'open door' for abuses in other countries, said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia director with Amnesty International. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

"What country is next? There's a lot of countries in Southeast Asia, in Asia and elsewhere, not to mention Africa, where you have majority groups and minority groups," said Nicholas Bequelin, the East Asia director at Amnesty International.

It's estimated that more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 2017. Those who ended up across the border in Bangladesh say their community suffered evictions, violence, gang rape and murder at the hands of Myanmar's military.

"If the international system doesn't address this, what has happened in Myanmar, it would be an open door for other countries to mirror this type of behaviour, which would create a catastrophic threat for peace and security in the world," Bequelin told the CBC's Nahlah Ayed, who travelled to Myanmar recently.

Thousands of refugees are stuck in camps along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

Myanmar's leadership vehemently disputes the allegations, but in August a United Nations report called for the country's military generals to face prosecution for genocide.

Ayed was on the Bangladesh side of the border just over a year ago, when the exodus began. In late September, she returned and was allowed into Myanmar. She told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti about what she saw.

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.


Produced by The Current's ​Elizabeth Hoath and Karin Marley.