Thu 14 Jun 2012
Filed under: ASEAN,Refugees,United Nations
International and Bangkok-based Myanmar rights activists called on the United Nations and Asean to send an independent fact-finding team into Rakhine as the sectarian conflict in the country’s western state worsens.Describing the violence as a possible ”genocide” against the Rohingyas, a Western rights activist told a seminar at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Wednesday night the international community could no longer sit by and let the situation subside by itself.
The international community, particularly UN representatives should intervene before more hatred spread over the whole country, said Debbie Stothard, Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) coordinator and deputy secretary-general of the International Federation for Human Rights.
She called for an independent monitoring group and facilitation for international aid workers and media inside Rakhine State.
The UN has recently decided to relocate its staff and family members out of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe (the Rakhine state’s capital) to Yangon because of the violence. The Myanmar government has also placed Rakhine under a state of emergency.
Maung Kyaw Nu, president of the Burmese Rohingya Association of Thailand, said international intervention was desperately needed before the ”Muslim Rohingya are wiped out from Burma”.
The outbreak of violence in the Rakhine state, whose population is made up mostly of Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, followed the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman in late May, in which the perpetrators were believed to be Muslim.
On 2 June, 10 Muslim bus passengers were beaten to death by a mob seeking revenge for the crime.
In the days that followed, there have been several conflicting reports of more sectarian attacks perpetrated by both Buddhist and Muslim residents.
Maung Maung Gyi, former secretary general at 1990 election representative of the Anti-fascist Peoples Freedom League (the now-defunct AFPFL political party), said ultra nationalism inherited among the Buddhist government officials has caused the riots to intensify and that the area badly needed law and order.
Ms Stothard said hysteria and hatred against one another was ”very disturbing”. Myanmar authorities refused to take appropriate actions while keeping foreign nationals out of the areas.
Asean, meanwhile, has simply ignored and closed their eyes and ears to the genocide, she said.
Htike, an Arakanese Muslim, conceded that the segregation campaigns have influenced people minds for ”a long time”.
”Hatred against one another can also be seen in other states due to the decades-long military rule,” said the Bangkok-based staff of the People’s Empowerment Foundation.
Mr Maung Maung Gyi said the Rohingyas were recognised during the rule of former leader U Nu, but was later stripped of their rights after the introduction of the 1982 citizenship act.
National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi has expressed concerns over the issue and met the Imams in Yangon but ”she is a minority voice in parliament which is dominated by the military”.
We need a constitutional amendment and the political recognition of the Rohingyas like other ethnic groups,” he said.