An aid flotilla carrying much needed supplies for the persecuted Rohingya in Myanmar has set sail today.
Three ships carrying around 1500 tonnes of food, medicine, tents and other aid left from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
They hope to dock in the Myanmar port of Maungdaw next week. If, as it has stated, the government of Myanmar prevents them from docking there using force if necessary, they will dock across the border in Teknaf, Bangladesh and distribute the aid to the Rohingya refugees there.
The flotilla has been organised by the Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (MAPIM) and is supported by IHRC, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, InMinds, Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh and the Community of Mosques in Cambridge.
IHRC has long campaigned for Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya.
In a fresh government crackdown in October 2016 against the beleaguered minority well over 100 people were reportedly killed, hundreds detained by the military, and at least 30,000 forced to flee for their lives after security forces invaded their villages and razed or torched their dwellings. Mosques and schools have also been destroyed.
There are numerous claims that scores of Rohingya women have been raped by soldiers and reports of Rohingya being summarily killed and tortured.
The situation is becoming increasingly desperate for the Rohingya. Many humanitarian aid agencies have left the area for their own safety removing a vital lifeline for the Rohingya. Unicef has warned that thousands of malnourished children are in danger of starving and lack medical care.
The latest wave of violence is designed to accelerate a process of ethnic cleansing that has been continuing for decades.
After violence unleashed in 2012 by Buddhist extremists drove tens of thousands of Rohingya out of their homes, many risked their lives to escape in smugglers’ boats; more than 100,000 others remained in squalid internment camps.
At the heart of the Rohingyas’ persecution is the continuing denial of citizenship and the concomitant status of Rohingyas as illegal aliens under the law. The Myanmar government continues to insist that the Rohingya do not qualify for citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law even though their presence in Myanmar stretches back many generations.
The Citizenship Law failed to include them among Burma’s legally recognised ethnic groups. Ever since the Rohingya have been subjected to systematic abuse and discrimination. The Rohingya continue, as a matter of official policy, to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment including rape, punitive taxation and extortion, restrictions on movement, ownership of property, and access to essentials such as water, sanitation, food, medical care, education and employment. Uniquely in Myanmar, the Rohingya are also subject to a discriminatory two child per family procreation limit.
The head of Myanmar’s democratic government, the Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, herself insists on underlining the Rohingya’s foreignness by referring to them as “Bengalis” and argues that the government’s response to the attack is based on “the rule of law.”
IHRC has called on the United Nations to launch an immediate investigation into the reports of atrocities against the Rohingya and if necessary refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.
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