|Fears grow of violence against Rohingya in Burma|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 10 April 2009|
Fears grow of violence against Rohingya in Burma
09 Apr 2009
The Burma Campaign UK is deeply concerned by consistent reports from sources in Rakhine State, Burma that there could be widespread violence against the Rohingya in the coming week.
The regime ruling Burma appears to be stoking communal violence, exploiting existing tensions between the mainly Buddhist Rakhine and muslim Rohingya people. In addition, there has been increased activity from the pro-regime militia, the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA), and the Na Sa Ka border security force.
There are consistent reports of weapons such as knives being stockpiled in Rakhine villages, and also reports of the military visiting Rohingya villages and taking away knives and other potential weapons.
Last week 5 houses belonging to Rohingya were burnt down in Buthidaung. No action has been taken to find and arrest those responsible.
Local people fear that the water festival due to start on Monday 13th April will be used as a trigger or cover for the violence.
Burma’s various military dictatorships, and even the post independence government, have a long track record of either using front organisations, or stoking communal violence, as a way of trying to avoid being blamed for attacks on political, ethnic or religious groups. Such violence may then also be used to try to justify political crackdowns and/or military action.
The Burma Campaign UK does not have specific evidence about individual planned attacks. However, the consistency of the reports we are receiving lead us to believe that the risk of violence is high, and needs to be taken seriously. Many rumours of planned attacks are circulating in both Rakhine and Rohingya communities. Even if specific attacks are not planned, we believe the level of tension in some areas is so high that it would not take much to trigger violence.
The Burma Campaign UK calls on governments and the United Nations to warn the military dictatorship not to provoke attacks against the Rohingya ethnic minority. We hope that diplomatic attention, and publicity about this issue, could persuade the regime to stop stoking tensions and attacks against the Rohingya.
The timing of the current move to increase communal tensions could be linked with the recent international outcry about the treatment of Rohingya people fleeing Burma by boat. ASEAN countries have tried to sideline the issue to one being simply about people smuggling and trafficking, pushing it into the Bali Process, which only deals with those issues, rather than addressing the appalling human rights abuses and poverty that is forcing Rohingya people to flee the country.
The Rohingya ethnic minority are one of the most oppressed ethnic groups in Burma. They are denied citizenship, are subject to constant extortion and land confiscation, do not have freedom of movement, and even have to ask permission from the dictatorship to get married. Most Rohingya people live in extreme poverty. They have been subject to severe crackdowns and attacks, including a massacre in 1942 in which tens of thousands were believed to have been killed, a crackdown in 1978 that forced more than 200,000 people to flee to Bangladesh, and another crackdown in 1991-1992 which forced more than 250,000 to flee to Bangladesh. A regime official recently described the Rohingya as ‘ugly’ and ‘dark’.
For more information contact Mark Farmaner 020 7324 4710
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