Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2023, 07:30 GMT

Burma: Information on the treatment of the Rohingyas by the Burmese government

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 July 1996
Citation / Document Symbol BUR24671.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Burma: Information on the treatment of the Rohingyas by the Burmese government, 1 July 1996, BUR24671.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Approximately 250,000 Muslim refugees, known as the Rohingyas, fled from Arakan State, Burma, to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, in order to escape "persecution and human rights abuses at the hands of the Tatmadow" (World Refugee Report 1993, 89; World Refugee Survey 1996 1996, 80). The Tatmadow is the official army of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) of Burma (World Refugee Survey 1995 1995, 85).

 According to a report released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Rohingyas were recognized by SLORC as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh during this period (Country Profile: Myanmar 1995, 11). The same source states that "the Australian Embassy in Rangoon believes that the persecution of Rohingyas had taken place primarily in the context of a deliberate government policy of repression of minorities, rather than specific racial or religious persecution" (ibid., 12).

Rohingya refugees stated that SLORC and its army had used forced labour and had destroyed mosques and Muslim cemeteries (ibid.). They also claimed that the government was responsible for "large-scale arrests, beatings and rapes" (ibid.).

The October 1993 Amnesty International Statement indicated that armed forces in Burma had been committing human rights violations against minorities since 1984 (1993, 12). The same source described how one Rohingya refugee had been tortured to death by military personnel (1993, 10, 12).

According to the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding signed by SLORC and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 200,000 Muslim refugees were repatriated in 1995 (Amnesty International Report 1996, 233). One source indicates that "Rohingyas returning to Myanmar receive identity documents restricting their freedom of movement to within Arakan state" (Country Profile Myanmar 1995, 12).

The 1996 Amnesty International Report states that "there was continued concern that returnees and civilians who remained in Myanmar might be at risk of human rights violations once the UNHCR's mandate ended" (ibid.). According to the Human Rights World Report 1995, "some refugees returned to Bangladesh claiming that abuses by the military in Arakan state continued" (1995, 134). Reports of human rights abuses against the Rohingyas are being investigated by UNHCR (Amnesty International Report 1996, 233).

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995 states that ethnic minority groups complained that the Burmese government was not addressing their concerns, despite an increase of ethnic minority representation in the National Convention (1996, 565).

For further information on the Rohingyas in Burma, please consult the attached document.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Amnesty International Report. 1996. New York: Amnesty International USA.

Amnesty International Statement. October 1993. AI Index: ASA16/06/93. "Myanmar: The Climate of Fear Continues, Members of Ethnic Minorities and Political Prisoners Still Targeted."

Refugees, Immigration and Asylum Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia. 1995. Country Profile: Myanmar.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1995. 1996. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

World Refugee Report. 1993. Washington, DC: Bureau for Refugee Programs Department of State.

World Refugee Survey 1996. 1996. Washington, DC: Immigration and Refugee Services of America.

World Refugee Survey 1995. 1995. Washington, DC: Immigration and Refugee Services of America.

Human Rights Watch World Report 1995. 1996. New York: Human Rights Watch.


World Refugee Survey 1996. 1996. Washington, DC: Immigration and Refugee Services of America, pp.79- 80.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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