Demand Bangladesh Open Borders To Refugees Fleeing Violence In Burma

Target: Bangladesh Government

Goal: Grant Burmese refugees entry into the country.

Children, fathers, mothers, and entire families are fleeing the Arakan State of western Burma as chaotic violence rips through the area, leaving many civilians injured or dead. To escape these perilous conditions alive, large groups of Burmese board boats to seek refuge in nearby Bangladesh only to arrive and be greeted by unwelcoming security forces declaring the borders to be closed. Where are they to go? Returning could be a fatal decision and yet entry into Bangladesh is not an option. The government of Bangladesh must open its borders to accommodate the hundreds of Burmese fleeing for their lives.

Beginning early this month, sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims have created a hazardous environment in western Burma from which these refugees seek safety. Houses and many town buildings lie in smoldering ruins as the two sides retaliate, leaving the innocent with no recourse but to flee. The relentless violence became so widespread, and ultimately uncontrollable, that Burma’s President declared a state of emergency on June 10.

As violence grew in Burma, Bangladesh responded by increasing border guards and naval forces along its borders with orders to prevent all Burmese from entering the country. In just three days they denied entry to more than five hundred people on eleven different boats.

Human Rights Watch reports that Bangladesh, “is obligated by the customary international law principle of nonrefoulement not to reject asylum seekers at its border when they are fleeing threats to their lives or freedom.” In addition to its sovereign obligation to uphold the principles of international law, Bangladesh must recognize its ethical duty to protect the right to life. The lives of Burmese refugees lie precariously in the hands of the government of Bangladesh; sign this petition demanding that Bangladesh demonstrate a commitment to the protection of human life by opening its borders to a people with no place else to go.


Dear Government of Bangladesh,

Hundreds of lives, and possibly thousands, could be lost if you do not open your borders to the refugees fleeing sectarian violence in western Burma. I urge you to immediately call on your border forces to permit all Burmese escapees refuge and safety from the hostile situation currently taking place in the Arakan State of Burma.

On June 10, the Burmese President declared a state of emergency, recognizing the uncontrollable extent of the brutal fighting between Buddhist and Muslim groups in western Burma,. Principles of international law demand that sovereign nations welcome asylum seekers into the country as they flee conditions which threaten their lives. This is exactly the situation that you and these refugees are now faced with.

These people cannot go back to their homes and their communities. Doing so could be fatal and your country must stop forcing them into this option. Please open your borders immediately and provide refuge for families and individuals whose lives hang in the balance.


[Your Name Here]

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41 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
  • Darlene Roepke
  • Frédérique Pommarat
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
  • Debbie Biere
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