Religious persecution intensified alongside ethnic-cleansing in Arakan

ARNO Statement on the current situation in Arakan, dated 23, August 2012

  • Since June brutal violence, the Burmese security forces barred the Muslim Rohingyas from worshipping in mosques across Rakhine (Arakan) State. The authorities have shut down almost all mosques in northern Arakan while prohibiting the daily 5 time congregational prayers. During the holy month of Ramadan the clampdown intensified. On the Annual Eid Festival Day of 20 August, the anxious Muslims have to remain inside their homes without congregating for prayers.

  • Immeasurable copies of holy Quran and religious books have been burnt down or destroyed while many mosques and religious schools with libraries were devastated. The destruction still continues. At about 9 pm, on 22 August the army and Buddhist settler villagers destroyed the mosque of Tha Yae Kone Tan village under Zawmatak village tract and the madrassa (religious school) of Lambagona village, all under Maungdaw Township.
  • The violence is directed at the Muslim Rohingyas. The government did nothing to prevent it. The army, police and security forces have become killer forces. The popular slogan of the Buddhist Rakhines with RNDP is “Arakan is for Rakhine. Rakhine and Buddhism are synonymous. Muslim Rohingya have nothing to do in Arakan and are to be kicked out of the country.”
  • It is absurd to term the carnage in Arakan as ethnic violence, but is a government sponsored planned massacre, and is to all intents and purposes a state terrorism against unarmed and peaceful living ethnic Rohingyas. Silent extermination with sporadic killing, arrest, rape, destruction and extortion continue unabated.
  • It is regrettable that the news media is still quoting the highly controversial government’s statement giving the number of deaths as 87 whereas at least 2500 Rohingyas were killed and disappeared who were presumably killed. We appeal to the UN with the international community to immediately conduct an independent investigation for a collection of facts from which true conclusions may be drawn.
  • The Inquiry Commission formed by the government is not credible as it consists of controversial figures like Dr. Aye Maung, Chairman of the Rakhine National Democratic Party (RNDP), U Aye Tha Aung, Chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy, U Khin Maung Swe, Chairman of the National Democratic Force (NDF) and 88 Generation Student leader Ko Ko Gyi who were either involved in the violence or have been proved to have preconceived idea or deep ill will against the Rohingya people.
  • President Thein Sein himself has disowned the Rohingyas asking the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take care of them in refugee camps until resettlement in third countries. It affirms that the Rohingyas have no domestic or national protection.
  • On the other hand Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has remained uncharacteristically silent on the persecution of Rohingyas making the situation more appalling while leaving them friendless within the country.
  • Human rights are universal. The systematic grave violations of human rights of Rohingya by both state and non-state actors amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing; and they cannot be pleaded as domestic affairs of Burma.
  • It is urgent that the UN intervenes in the matter to prevent and alleviate further deaths, rape, destruction and other grave human rights violations against the helpless Rohingyas. Creation of a ‘safe haven’ inside Arakan may be actively considered.
  • It is vital to constitute an independent UN Inquiry Commission to conduct proper investigation of the violence in the interest of international peace and security and to bring all those responsible to justice.
  • It is equally important that unrestricted humanitarian aids be distributed to all victims without discrimination.
  • It is also most urgent that Burmese government releases the full list and whereabouts of the persons arrested together with the list of number of persons killed with their burial places; and to immediately release all those who have been arrested under false and fabricated charges.
  • Last not least, the UN with OIC and the international community should take concerted efforts to find out a permanent solution of the long standing ‘Rohingya problem’ ensuring their rights and freedom, as an equal ethnic group in Arakan, on par with other nationalities of the ethnically diverse country of Burma.

For further information, please contact:

Nurul Islam: + 44 07947854652
Aman Ullah + 880 1558486910
Email:        info@rohingya.org

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