DHAKA, Bangladesh 20 April
On 17 April A Europe-based human rights group accused Myanmar’s government on Thursday of complicity in a “slow-burning genocide” against the Rohingya Muslim minority and suggested the international community should intervene to end human rights violations.
At a press conference in neighboring Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, the European Rohingya Council demanded both the international community and Bangladesh’s government take an active role in ending alleged human rights violations in Myanmar.
“They are killed and their homes and villages destroyed by security forces and state sponsored non-state actors and their women are systematically raped as an instrument of ethnic cleansing,” the group said in a press statement.
“These crimes amount to ‘slow-burning genocide’ as they have been carried out with the knowledge of the government, with intent to destroy the Rohingya people.”
The group called on the international community to ensure Myanmar’s government recognize Rohingya ethnicity and citizenship of Myanmar and allow refugees in neighboring countries to return.
It also demanded a UN inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in western state Arakan.
“Our demand to the peoples and government of Bangladesh is to play a ‘key role’ to find out a just and lasting solution to the long-standing Rohingya problem, in the interest of Bangladesh and persecuted Rohingya peoples,” said the group’s spokesperson Mohammed Ibrahim.
An appeal from Burma’s Rohingya to the international community
Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted peoples on earth. Despite indigenous to Arakan with a long glorious history, today they are not tolerated in Burma for their ethnicity and religion; and also for their South Asian appearance in contrast to Southeast Asian. They are forced to statelessness and refugeehood. Due to large scale persecution and ethnic cleansing over 1.5 million Rohngyas are in diaspora.
The Rohingya and the people of Bangladesh have a deep traditional relationship in the bond of Islamic fraternity and geographical proximity. The people of Bangladesh have long been witnessing the tragedies besetting the Rohingya people. Being an immediate neighbouring country Bangladesh has to bear the brunt of “Rohingya problem” or “Rohingya persecution”. We are grateful to the people and government of Bangladesh for sheltering a large number of our people for a long time on humanitarian ground.
Denied citizenship in Burma and unwanted elsewhere, in an attempt to save their lives, many Rohingyas have become now the ‘boat people’ of our time. Since 2008 a few thousands of them had drowned, and scores of others were rescued or detained in countries within the region. A large number of them were victimized at the hands the greedy exploiters, human traffickers and smugglers.
Massacres of Rohingya
Since June 2012, series of state sponsored deadly violence were carried out, with impunity, against the Rohingya people by Buddhist Rakhine mobs. The most recent mass murder was executed in Du Chee Yar Tan village in Maungdaw Township on 9-13 January 2014. The police, Nasaka, Lon Htin, army and members of “969” Buddhist extremist organization are directly involved in the killing and destruction of the Rohingya people and their villages. Still sporadic one-sided deadly violence is continuing, if not every day. It is extremely painful that the armed Rakhine/Magh Buddhists from Bangladesh had infiltrated into Arakan and were caught red-handed with anti-Rohingya extremist Buddhists.
Since June 2012, at least 3000 Muslims have been killed, went drowned and missing; many hundreds of women raped. About 1,600 people were arrested and some 150,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims have been internally displaced or homeless forcing them to live in segregation or in apartheid style squalid displacement camps outside of their dwellings and towns where no education, adequate food, water, sanitation and healthcare are available. The displaced Rohingya, who have no access to government facilities, are totally dependent on the INGOs and NGOs. But the extremist Rakhines with the authorities try to stop everyone helping them. In February the government had expelled the Nobel Peace Prize winning aid group, Doctors without Borders (MSF). On 26-27 March the offices, homes and properties of the UN humanitarian agencies, INGOs and NGOs were attacked and ransacked by the Rakhine extremists in connivance with the authorities forcing all aid workers to evacuate from Arakan. The displaced Rohingyas are now in danger, with report of people dying every day due to hunger and diseases.
In addition, the Rohingyas were left out from the recent UN sponsored nationwide census, conducted from 30 March to 10 April, for self-identifying themselves with their ethnic name “Rohingya”. But the government is insisting to register them as “Bengali” with intent to dub them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Responsibility to protect
The military backed Thein Sein government is not willing to protect Rohingya people. Like Rakhine leader Dr. Aye Maung of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), President Thein Sein wants to deport Rohingya people to foreign countries, thus promoting his official ethnic cleansing policy. There are confirmed and verified information of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya people, but these serious violations have not been fully and impartially investigated and none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. These crimes amount to “slow-burning genocide” as they have been carried out with the knowledge of the government with intend to destroy the Rohingya people.
Round the clock they are living in a state of jeopardy facing existential threats. They are killed and their homes and villages destroyed by security forces and state sponsored non-state actors and their women are systematically raped as an instrument of ethnic cleansing. Since the Burmese government is not willing to protect the Rohingya people, now the responsibility to protect them lies on the international community.
We, therefore, request:
(A) The international community:
(i) To exert pressure on the Burmese government to allow humanitarian aids to the Rohingyas and other needy people and to allow INGOs and NGOs to continue their humanitarian activities in Arakan without restraint and disturbance.
(ii) To form an UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate into the atrocity crimes in Arakan and other parts of Burma and bring the perpetrators to the book.
(iii) To actively consider ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Arakan in order to save the lives of the vulnerable people and to bring about peace in Arakan.
(iv) To put effective pressure on Burma to stop all human rights violations against Rohingya and other Muslims and to guarantee the ethnic and citizenship rights of the Rohingya as an indigenous national group of the Union of Burma.
(v) To ensure ‘right of return’ of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and other countries.
(B) The people and Government of Bangladesh:
(i) To play a ‘key role’ to find out a just and lasting solution to the long standing Rohingya problem in the interest of Bangladesh and persecuted Rohingya people.
(ii) To continue sheltering Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds until a congenial atmosphere is created for their safe return to their homeland in Burma.