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Rohingya Return Deal: Reality or PR Stunt? - Daily Brief

Plus: Zimbabwe's new president sworn in; Refugees removed from Manus center; People starving under siege in Syria and Yemen; UN experts threatened in Burundi; Torture in Rwanda; Kyrgyzstan has a new president; and the French foreign minister is in China.


  1. Bangladesh and Burma have signed a deal to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh in recent months. Given the Burmese military's ethnic cleansing and mass rapes that sparked the exodus of Rohingya in the first place, it seems an unlikely prospect in the immediate term. Rights groups have said that if this is really to go ahead, many steps would be needed first, and it would be essential that international observers be allowed to monitor the returns.
  2. On Friday, crowds gathered in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, for the swearing-in of Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country's new president, following the departure of Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power. But human rights activists have warned that replacing Mugabe will not be enough to achieve real change in the country.
  3. The Australian government has confirmed that asylum seekers refusing to leave the detention center on Manus island, in Papua New Guinea, were moved to new housing. On Friday morning, police entered the camp for a second day, and some 300 men were transferred by bus to other transit centers on the island, with some reporting violence by the PNG police.
  4. Civilians in Syria and Yemen are still living in appalling siege conditions. People are starving in eastern Ghouta, an area under siege by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia continues to block ports in northern Yemen, leaving tens of thousands of starving people without aid.
  5. The international community should speak up in support of members of the UN commission of inquiry investigating human rights abuses in Burundi, who have been publicly threatened by the country’s authorities. As Burundi’s civilians are still at risk of abuses, now is not the time to look away.
  6. Experts at the UN Committee Against Torture should use this week’s routine session to question Rwandan government on its implementation of the Convention against Torture. For at least the last seven years, Rwanda’s military has frequently detained and tortured people, beating them, asphyxiating them, using electric shocks and staging mock executions.
  7. Kyrgyzstan's new President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has been formally sworn into office in the capital Bishkek, in a first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history. Jeenbekov should demonstrate from the outset that he intends to put human rights front and center.
  8. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian should publicly urge respect for human rights in meetings with China’s new leadership when he visits the country between November 24 and 27. “Minister Le Drian’s visit is an important opportunity to publicly challenge the Chinese leadership over its rampant human rights violations,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, HRW’s France director.