Ramree Island, a normally peaceful serene island to the southern part of Arakan state this morning erupted in violence. Some 200 km from the main hub for the Rohingya in Maungdaw, Kyauk Ni Maw village is home to about 7,000 Rohingya and Kaman. As morning broke, Army personnel fired in the air in an attempt to bring calm from the onrushing Rakhine locals backed by some local authority forces.
The village population many of whom are recognized citizens of Burma (Kaman community) were completely encircled by Rakhine forces numbering surplus of 10,000 by mid-afternoon. Whilst Army personnel are present, they are heavily outnumbered, and, as has been the protocol with other villages last week, it is expected that by nightfall the village will be razed in arson attacks.
Late on Tuesday night, reports emerged that a further seven Rohingya were found dead in Min Bya township.
Back in the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office held a session in parliament on Tuesday. Amongst other issues such as Syria, Palestine and Sudan, MP’s posed merely four questions on the violence in Burma. Jonathan Ashworth MP and Rushanara Ali MP asked of any assurance the Foreign Commonwealth Office would be placing the Burmese administration under pressure, whilst further questions by Roger Williams MP and Kerry McCarthy MP were posed on issues of Bangladeshi involvement and Burma’s Citizenship Law of 1982 respectively. Hugo Swire MP, the Minister of State answered the questions and a full transcript can be found here – Whilst Mr Swire acknowledged the recent violence, he was bemusedly supportive of the Burmese administration despite numerous reports of NaSaKa, Lun Thin and Navy favour of Rakhine attacks on Rohingya communities, adding that the FCO
…await the report from the Burmese Government, and our ambassador has been to the area. We think that the Burmese Government are doing what they can with their army and police…
The past ten days has seen some of the most wanton arson attacks on, as the UN states, ‘one of the most marginalized communities in the world’ as well as growing violence to other Muslim communities across Burma. Admitting that the last contact the Foreign Office has had with the Burmese administration was back in September at the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Swire informed the House that he had called the chargé d’affaires (junior diplomat) for Burma on Monday to discuss the Arakan state violence. With a death-toll which is difficult to confirm but feared to be in the thousands and with a total of 100,000 displaced Rohingya people, the necessity for international observers and pressure at the highest level is pivotal for any hope of a protection of the human rights of the Rohingya.
As a result of inaction, Restless Beings in partnership with Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK and supported by all global Rohingya organisations will be holding a Global Day of Action on November 8th. In London, we will be calling for protection, access (to media, international observers and free access of aid agencies), aid and a call for a repeal to the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at lunchtime.
Full details will be released on 1st November.