The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and its allied networks, such as the Burma Solidarity Philippines (BSP) and the Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC), share and echo the sentiments and advocacies of refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced peoples (IDPs), and their allies in the observance of World Refugee Day.  

Today, we salute the courage and resilience of those who have fled from their homes to find safety due to armed conflict, political persecution, and disasters, as we equally condemn those responsible for proliferating the conditions causing mass displacement that is now a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

In particular, IID reaffirms its solidarity with the refugees from Myanmar whom the military junta’s attempted coup has displaced as it continues to commit wanton human rights violations and wage indiscriminate violence against those defending democracy and their right to life, freedom, and self-determination against an illegitimate military trying to govern the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported in 2022 that approximately there are 1.3 million refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar, 1.5 million Burmese IDPs, and around 630,000 persons (i.e., Rohingyas) who remain stateless in the country [1].

IID’s close work and correspondence with Burmese refugee communities, regional human rights organizations, and local solidarity networks such as the Burma Solidarity Philippines (BSP) reveal harrowing accounts that must be shown to and collectively condemned by concerned parties and authorities worldwide.

Refugees have reported that they have fled from places where killings, rape, abductions, and torture occur on a regular basis. Research confirms that for the past few years, the military junta has systematically used sexual violence to suppress and persecute ethnic minorities, especially the Rohingyas [2]. Airstrikes have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, women, and children as the junta targets community centers and healthcare facilities in conflicted areas [3]. These human rights violations have no place in a civilized society, even in the context of civil war.

Reports further indicate that the military junta took advantage of the recent Cyclone Mocha to attack resistance-contested territories while neglecting to provide warning and humanitarian assistance in areas under the junta’s control [4]. During the cyclone, the junta’s imposed telecommunications blackout [5] impeded disaster risk reduction and management efforts in different states, causing damage to sources of livelihood, houses, and the loss of lives [6]. Additionally, the junta continues to monitor and blockade humanitarian corridors providing aid for areas affected by the typhoon.

IID condemns the military junta’s cruelty that has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees. These atrocities show the junta’s blatant disregard for international humanitarian laws and human dignity in its desperate attempt to seize control of Myanmar.

Another cause for grave concern is the issues of exploitation and abuse that continue to hound refugees that have fled from Myanmar.  In some countries in the region of Southeast Asia, being provided a refugee status is allegedly awarded on the condition that they do not participate in public political activities that condemn and protest against the actions and policies of the military junta in their home country. Additionally, we have been receiving disturbing reports that Burmese border authorities allegedly continue to harass, intimidate, and torture people living along the Thai-Burma border for information on these refugees’ activities.

As we commemorate World Refugee Day, IID continues to encourage the international community to lend assistance to refugees and provide platforms for them to express their opinions and accounts of the ongoing political and armed conflict in Myanmar.

IID also commends ASEAN leaders and officials who have refused to legitimize the junta’s authority by declining attendance in Thailand’s proposed ‘secret meeting’ with the junta’s leaders. We hope that in future discussions, ASEAN state actors will implement more definitive strategies that will promote peace in the region, such as imposing penalties and restrictions on countries that continue to trade and provide military aid to the illegitimate government, and coordinating non-violent interventions with political groups that are more democratically representative of Burmese people and its ethnic groups.

For its part, the IID has been coordinating solidarity efforts among Philippine civil society organizations and political parties through Burma Solidarity Philippines, and helping capacitate young leaders and activists across the world, in particular, in the Southeast Asian region, in their advocacy work that promotes protection to refugees’ welfare, dignity, and rights as the struggle for freedom continues in Myanmar.  

As we observe World Refugee Day and its 2023 theme, ‘Hope Away from Home,’ let us unite in our commitment to making a difference. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder, embracing our shared humanity and working tirelessly to resist illegitimate authoritarian rule that seeks to strip people of their dignity in its reckless and inhumane pursuit of political power. ###


[1] United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. Myanmar Situation.

[2] Green, L., McHale, T., Mishori, R. et al. “Most of the cases are very similar.”: Documenting and corroborating conflict-related sexual violence affecting Rohingya refugees.

[3] Nora, The Irrawaddy. Myanmar Junta Increasingly Targeting Healthcare: NUG.

[4] Mizzima. Junta soldiers and Cyclone Mocha force 3,000 to flee Khin U Township.,tropical%20rain%20of%20Cyclone%20Mocha.

[5] Advox. How internet shutdowns in Myanmar have been endangering lives and affecting humanitarian work since the coup.

[6] Khonumthung Media Group. Mocha Destroys Thousands Of Homes In Chin State.