Evening brings with it the shade of darkness for would-be criminals and organised gangs intent on causing maximum disruption and damage to Rohingya communities in remote Arakan state, Burma. Over the past 72 hours or so, there has been a definite shift and increase in intesity on the onslaught against the stateless Rohingya.
Accused of being illegal migrants from Bangladesh, it seems the latest shift of violence is state backed with many many sources now reporting that security forces, Hlun Tain, and Burmese Navy are attacking the Rohingya community at will and without charge.
Our correspondents this evening expressed fear that Kyauk Pru island town has been comletely over-run - leaving 10,000 displaced after all houses were razed and burnt to ashes. Eye-witnesses said about 7,000 have escaped using fishing boats - many have made it across the River into Arakan mainland. Worryingly, it is also reported that yet more are stranded in the sea and are being attacked by Naval coast boats.
In Minbya, the only remaining Rohingya village, Lombaichar, has 850 Rohingya homes which are now completely encircled by a 7,000 strong Rakhine force. It is feared that with the sunset and evening descending the Rohingya population in Minbya will face a night of violence and bloodshed. 2,000 Rohingya villagers remain in Lombaichar - many do not expect to see sunlight. Around 100 army staff have been seen in the area an it is hoped that they will maintain some element of calm; that said, it is well reported that the Army themselves have been known to previously join with the Rakhine in their onslought against the Rohingya.
In the UK, the Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swires has released a statement:
I am deeply concerned at the latest outbreaks of inter-communal violence in Rakhine State: the most serious since the initial violence in June. We have received reports that clashes over the last few days have left several thousand people homeless and resulted in an unverified number of casualties.
“We call on all parties for an immediate end to the violence. We further urge the government, the police, and the local gendarmerie to take all necessary action to protect civilians, and to grant full humanitarian access to the areas affected as soon as possible.
“The latest violence reinforces the need for a long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine State, involving an inclusive political settlement that protects the rights of all members of the local population.
“The UK and international community will continue to monitor the situation very closely. We have welcomed the significant reform programme underway in Burma, led by President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and hope that as a matter of urgency they can work with the local authorities and communities to resolve the situation in Rakhine State in a peaceful and constructive manner.”
Given the severity of the past 72 hours, it had been hoped that the UK would take a stronger stance than this. At this time, we urge all supporters to contact their local MP's (you can find your local MP here www.theyworkforyou.com) requesting an urgent parliament session to be held on this matter.
We ALL have a part to play. It is absolutely paramount that we put pressure on our elected representatives to reflect the will of the people and stand up for human rights around the world. Click here to download a template letter.