Crisis in Arakan State, Burma highlighted in British Parliament

Chittagong, Bangladesh: The human rights and humanitarian crisis in Arakan State, western Burma, was highlighted in the British Parliament on June 27 at a meeting chaired by Baroness Kinnock, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

In the meeting of British lawmakers chaired by Baroness Kinnock, Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Maung Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, and Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, described the situation of Rohingya in Arakan State.

Near 4000 Rohingyas have been killed in the sectarian violence, at least 40000 are missing, 22 villages have been burned down, more than 120 females were rape and 14 mosques destroyed, according to sources. But, the official said only around 80 people –Rohingya and Rakhine- killed in the sectarian violence.

The current sectarian unrest has been influenced by hardliners in the government who do not want to see reforms in Burma, and the Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP), which reject Rohingya as members of Burma’s ethnic groups, according to Tun Khin. “Tthere have been an increasing number of anti-Rohingya activities, including seminars in Rangoon and in Arakan State organized by the RNDP in recent months.”

Bangladesh has refused entry to Rohingyas at its borders, and has pushed back at least 16 boats seeking access to Bangladesh.

“We really need U.N. observers in Arakan (Rakhine) State. Even though the riots were stopped some Rohingya houses are still being burned down by Rakhines… We urge the British government to put effective pressure on the Burmese regime to stop the killings and violence against the Muslim Rohingyas in Arakan and to restore peace and security in the region, to allow the international community and NGOs to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to all the victims regardless of race or religion,”  The BROUK president said at the meeting.

Tun Khin urged Britain to pressure the Burmese government to provide security to ensure Rohingya can safely return to their homes, for Bangladesh to open its borders to refugees fleeing persecution, for the government to offer citizenship to Rohingya who qualify and to fight against anti-Muslim activities and racism in the country.

Benedict Rogers said, “CSW appeals, as a matter of utmost urgency, to the security forces, authorities and people in Arakan State to stop the violence immediately and to begin the long, hard work of addressing the underlying issues, rebuilding shattered lives and engaging in inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation. We urge the international community, including the British Government, the European Union and the United States, to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to all the victims of the recent violence, regardless of ethnicity or religion and without discrimination. We join others in the international community in calling upon the Government of Burma, the National League for Democracy and all political parties in Burma to support the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law, which does not recognise the citizenship of the Rohingya people, who have lived in Burma for generations, and for it to be replaced with a new law based on principles of human rights and equality and in accordance with international law. We call on the Government of Burma to protect and defend religious freedom and to ensure that the human rights of all the peoples of Burma are protected and respected.”

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