Mon 10 Dec 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma,International,News
United Nations humanitarian chief Ashok Nigam called again for unrestricted access to Rakhine State for the various UN agencies, and urged reconciliation between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities. Returning from a two-day visit to the region where he was accompanied by Burma’s Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham, Nigam said, “Hope must be brought back to these people through livelihoods, reconciliation and addressing the root causes of the conflict. Human rights of all the people in Rakhine State must be protected.”
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator’s message came on a weekend when people around the world were offered on TV a documentary by Al Jazeera titled “Hidden Genocide” which accused Burmese security forces of involvement in violent acts against the Rohingya community, including murder, rape, torture and a systematic purging of the group which at least one respected scholar said comes close to the definition of “genocide.”
The documentary was mostly filmed in Bangladesh with testimonies taken from Rohingya refugees who fled the violence in Rakhine State in June.
Though the film alluded to the mass graves of Rohingya victims, including murdered children, no photographic or video evidence was included nor did Al Jazeera claim to have any forensic evidence of the charges.
Al Jazeera acknowledged that many of the Rohingyas’ claims could not be verified. Nonetheless, the documentary is likely to cause a backlash among international donors.
Meanwhile, Burma’s Minister for Border Affairs Lt-Gen Thein Htay told reporters in Rangoon that chronic poverty and unemployment had been the root causes of the sectarian violence in Rakhine State. He said that the tensions and the conflict can be “resolved through a process of development.”
He called on the UN to increase its aid to Burma.
The UN and its humanitarian partners recently unveiled a revised Rakhine Response Plan which indicates that an additional US $41 million is needed to meet the humanitarian needs of all affected communities until June 2013.
Burmese President Thein Sein has set up an independent commission of inquiry to examine the violence and provide recommendations.