The humanitarian crisis in Northern Arakan has reached an all-time high where the Myanmar Government armed forces (combination of army, BGP paramilitary police, and local police) are indiscriminately killing Rohingya men, women, and children. Rohingya families that have lost their homes and members of their families are taking shelter primarily in nearby Rohingya villages while some have crossed into Bangladesh. OIC has convened a special meeting of the member state (57 countries) at the United Nations in New York on the emergency situation in Northern Arakan/Rakhine state. A number of dignitaries from international community and OIC member states spoke at the meeting. On behalf of Rohingya people in Myanmar and around the world, the Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union, Dr. Wakar Uddin, spoke and provided the details of the emergency situation, and made appeal to the OIC and the member states for urgent intervention by all possible means.
Crimes against humanity and emergency humanitarian situation
Dr. Uddin emphatically expressed two major concerns at the meeting – the crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar armed forces (combined army, paramilitary BGP, and local police) and the emergency humanitarian situation in Rohingya areas.
Dr. Uddin provided the details of the atrocities committed by the Myanmar armed forces against Rohingya civilian population. “Indiscriminate killing of Rohingya civilian population, summary execution, individual and gang rape, arbitrary arrests, atrocities, and inhumane treatment of Rohingya in the detention camps – these are taking serious toll on Rohingya people” Dr. Uddin said during an interview with The Burma Times.
“Torching of over 2,000 Rohingya homes by the Myanmar armed forces, displacement of over 30,000 Rohingya in Northern Arakan and some crossing into Bangladesh for safety, severe shortage of food and life sustaining materials due to blockade of relief supply routes to affected areas by Myanmar Government, beating and arrests of local Rohingya villagers trying to deliver food supplies, looting of Rohingya homes by Buddhist Rakhine settlers, and preventing Rohingya farmers from harvesting their grain crops” Dr. Uddin stated. “There is no sign of any change in Myanmar Government’s unrelenting hostile policy against Rohingya people – Myanmar authorities are poised to transform the current government attacks on Rohingya people to communal riot by arming the local Buddhist Rakhine settlers and forming militia groups” he explains. “Stepping up misinformation campaign, claiming that the Rohingya families torched their own homes in order to blame the Myanmar armed forces is truly unconscionable” Dr. Uddin further stated.
Dr. Uddin also described how the Government of Myanmar has engaged in deceptive practices. “The reason they are not allowing international humanitarian assistance groups to the affected area is that they do not want the relief groups to see what they have done to Rohingya civilian population – evidently they have something to hide. The diplomatic team and later Kofi Annan Commission were allowed to assess the situation once, but they simply removed their armed forces from their locations along with the hundreds of Rohingya detainees. Arrests and torture of Rohingya testifiers to the international teams following their visits to affected villages very concerning” Dr. Uddin further stated.
Appeals by the Rohingya people to OIC and the member states
On behalf of Rohingya people Dr. Uddin appealed to OIC member states and the international community to:
- Demand the Government of Myanmar to immediately give all the international relief workers unfettered access to the affected areas in Northern Arakan
- Demand the Government of Myanmar to reinstate the NRC (National Registration Certificate) of the Rohingya people for restoration of their citizenship and permanently cease all the human right violations against Rohingya people
- Demand the Government of Myanmar to provide unfettered access to the international humanitarian relief groups and media, and provide full protection to them and the Rohingya civilian population
- Provide urgent humanitarian assistance by OIC and the individual member states to the affected areas.
- Call on the United Nations Security Council to convene a meeting on emergency situation in Northern Arakan
- Introduce the Rohingya citizenship, human rights, and humanitarian issues in the upcoming sessions of UN General Assembly and Human Right Council
- Provide all possible assistance to entities that may pursue the cases of crimes against humanity in Arakan in the courts of international jurisprudence
The current violence against Rohingya civilians by Myanmar armed forces is a product of the longstanding policy on Rohingya devised by the ultra-nationalist Myanmar military machinery. The waves of violence against Rohingya either by the Government of Myanmar or government-instigated Buddhist Rakhine attacks are not likely to ease as long as Myanmar Government continues its hostile policy against Rohingya people with the aim of ethnic cleansing. It is high time the international community stands up to save an ethnic minority in Arakan whose very existence is under threat. The Governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and several other countries have spoken out, and the world community of nations must follow suit.