Lobbying The British Government: Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar
Over the past 4 weeks, the Rohingya, a community numbering nearly 1 million in Burma's Arakan state have been under siege by local Rakhine community also living in Arakan.
The UN have described the Rohingya as 'the most persecuted community in the world' and have referenced the Rohingya as the Palestine of Asia. It is reported that the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar from as far back as the 8th Century, yet in 1962, the Burmese military junta began a programme of ethnic cleansing. Starting by denying birth certificates and citizenship to the Rohingya, right now, the community are in a perilous situation where they are being targeted because they are not of the same race and religion of the Buddhist majority Rakhine. Looking darker and closer to the South Asian race as opposed to the more oriental looking majority, and being Muslims as opposed to Buddhist, the Rohingya are being targeted by state sponsored ethnic cleansing.
In recent weeks, villages belonging to the Rohingya have been burnt to the ground, whilst refugees fleeing to other countries have been refused entry left to fend for themselves on board rickety boats on rough seas.
The Myanmerese Government refuse to accept Rohingya as citizens and as such have no rights in a country they call their motherland.
This issue is much larger than a Myanmar only problem, it is fast becoming one of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing alongside the likes of Rwanda, Bosnia and even the holocaust of the Second World War.
We urge the international community and in particular the British Government to champion this cause and settle this situation in peaceful, diplomatic and humane means.
Rt Hon William Hague MP
First Secretary of State, Secretary of State For Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH
Rt Hon William Hague,
I am writing to you regarding the recent conflict between the Rohingya and Rakhine community in Western Myanmar over the past month and the increasing humanitarian crisis which is occurring there.
You visited Burma in January earlier this year and actually requested Burmese authorities to tackle this specific issue. Since then however, ethnic clashes have broken out in Rakhine state over the month of June with as many as 90,000 Rohingya displaced following the mass burning of many Rohingya villages. Innocent civilians are being targeted because of their ethnic background and religion. As you made inferences in January, this issue regards urgent attention.
Burma has begun its democratisation which can only be commended. However, the mere fact that since 1962 no Rohingya have been issued with birth certificates rendering them aliens to their own country means that they have no citizen rights and as a result their human rights are being abused.
The High Commissioner to Bangladesh, on June 27th, Robert Gibson, mentioned that the British Government had made contact with Myanmar authorities over these issues. We ask you to take a stand raising this issue publically to the House and further to the Burmese Government to ensure that Britain's opposition to such human rights abuses can act as an example to other countries. Whilst the Government has shown a willingness to help Myanmar during this democratisation over recent months, this treatment of its inhabitants which is in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 3, 6, 13, 15, and 16. As such we urge you to advise that the British Government cease its economic ties with Burma and its support towards a state which is responsible for the massacres of thousands of Rohingyas. We hope that international diplomacy and pressure will ensure that the Rohingya are given fair and equal rights as citizens in Burma.
Many NGO's and independent journalists have said that the situation in Burma with the Rohingya is a modern day ethnic cleansing. Reports covered even by the UK Guardian have suggested mass burning, looting and murder of Rohingya men, women and children. We strongly urge that Foreign Office voice its opposition to this ethnic cleansing and hopefully ensure that lives can be saved and dignity restored for the Rohingya.
We, the British public and members of the international community, urge you to take forward our collective calls to take a stand over this issue and further to voice the Rohingya community so that we can avoid large scale ethnic cleansing in the region. We also hope that Britain can assist in providing relief and aid to the displaced Rohingya of the region.
Aside all politics and legalities, this is a matter of basic human rights that we all share, and cannot ignore.