From: Islamic Human Rights Commission
05 September 2017
PRESS RELEASE – MYANMAR: International community must act swiftly and decisively to save Rohingya
IHRC deplores the lack of international action against the state of Myanmar in response to its latest crackdown on the beleaguered Muslim Rohingya minority.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands forced to flee their homes in Rakhine State after the government launched what media reports described as a “scorched earth” policy in areas inhabited by the stateless group.
Fleeing Rohingya have told reporters of children being beheaded alive and women being dragged away by soldiers to be raped.
While some 75,000 victims have so far managed to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh others have had their escape cut off by Dhaka which has historically sought to confine the Rohingya to Myanmar despite sharing a common faith and language. Many others have died attempting to make the perilous journey across thick jungle and swollen rivers.
IHRC is concerned that the collective apathy of the international community will only encourage the government in Yangon to further persecute the Rohingya.
At a time when the world is exploring all avenues to rein in the repressive regime in Pyongyang, there seems to be little appetite among global powers to apply effective pressure on Yangon to end its historic persecution of the Rohingya.
In fact since the military junta allowed general elections to be held in the country in 2015 the thrust of international policy has been to bring Myanmar in from the cold, in flagrant disregard of its inhuman treatment of the Rohingya.
Myanmar’s de facto head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has herself failed to speak out against the continuing human rights abuses for fear of upsetting the country’s Buddhist majority which overwhelmingly backs the Rohingyas’ maltreatment and also the powerful military which remains in overall control of the country. In fact she has fuelled the flames of hatred by highlighting the Rohingyas’ supposed foreignness, referring to them as “Bengalis”.
The plight of the Rohingya is becoming increasingly desperate now that aid agencies including the UN have either left the area for their own safety or are being prevented from entering by the Myanmar authorities.
IHRC is concerned that the latest government pogrom, the second major crackdown since soldiers poured into Rakhine state in north west Myanmar in October last year, is deliberately designed to accelerate a process of ethnic cleansing that has been continuing for decades.
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 1982 Citizenship Law failed to include the Rohingyas among Myanmar’s legally recognised ethnic groups. Ever since then 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.
IHRC calls on the United Nations to intervene as a matter of urgency to pressurise the Myanmar regime into complying with its international human rights obligations and ending its persecution of the Rohingya.
We also repeat our call for the UN to launch an immediate investigation into the latest reports of atrocities against the Rohingya and immediately refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.
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Notes to editors:
IHRC’s 2016 report “The Rohingya: 35 years of persecution” can be read here
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598