close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

The Rohingya refugee crisis in key dates

Two years ago, the Myanmar military led a ferocious crackdown against Rohingya, leading to an exodus of some 740,000 people into neighbouring Bangladesh. Here are the key events since 2017:

Rohingya militants attack 

On August 25, 2017, Rohingya militants staged coordinated attacks on police posts in Myanmar's Rakhine state, killing at least a dozen police officers. 

The army retaliated with operations in Rohingya villages, saying it is trying to flush out insurgents.

The army in the mainly Buddhist nation says it has killed 400 rebels.

Regime opponents say most victims were civilians.

The United Nations says at least 1,000 were killed in the first two weeks.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Refugee storm

By September 5, more than 120,000 Rohingya flooded into Bangladesh, overwhelming its ill-equipped refugee camps.

Many say they have been victims of abuses by the army and ethnic Rakhine, who are majority Buddhists.

There are already at least 300,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh from previous waves of violence.

(Photograph:AFP)

Suu Kyi breaks silence

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on September 19 made her first public statement on the crisis and said she is open to resettling some of the Rohingya who have fled, pending a "verification process".

In her speech, she offered no concrete solutions to stop what the UN calls "ethnic cleansing" and fails to appease critics around the world.

The Nobel Peace laureate, in power since 2016, visited the conflict zone on November 2, making no statement.
 

(Photograph:AFP)

Repatriation accord

Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23 agreed to start repatriating refugees in two months, without using the word "Rohingya". 

A day later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said conditions had not been met for their safe and lasting return.

The accord remained a dead letter.

On December 2 Pope Francis met Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, after visiting Myanmar, and asked for "forgiveness".

(Photograph:AFP)

Possible 'genocide'

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for an international investigation on December 5, warning of possible "elements of genocide".

On March 6, 2018, the UN said Myanmar is continuing its "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya with a "campaign of terror and forced starvation".

On August 25, tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staged protests to mark the first anniversary of the exodus.

Two days later UN investigators called for an international probe and prosecution of Myanmar's army chief and five other top military commanders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

On the same day, Facebook banned the top generals from its platform.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Reporters jailed

On September 3 two Reuters journalists accused of breaching Myanmar's state secrets law while reporting on a Rohingya massacre were jailed for seven years.

After more than 500 days in jail and following immense international pressure, they were released on May 7, 2019.

(Photograph:Reuters)

International Criminal Court opens preliminary probe

On September 18, 2018, the prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court announced a preliminary probe into the military's alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

UN investigators called for Myanmar's military to be removed from politics on the same day.

In November an attempt to return 2,260 Rohingya failed, as they refused to leave without safety guarantees.

On December 20 Myanmar forces carried out new "clearance operations" in Rakhine state after attacks, with one incident blamed on Rohingya.

(Photograph:Reuters)

US sanctions

On July 16, 2019, Washington announced sanctions against Myanmar's army chief Min Aung Hlaing and three other top officers for their role in "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya.

On August 5, the UN called for tougher sanctions against Myanmar's military.

From August 22, some 3,500 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are cleared to return home to Myanmar, but none turn up.

The UN accuses Myanmar's military of sexual violence against Rohingya and reiterates the conditions are "not favourable" for safe repatriation.

(Photograph:Reuters)