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Govt urged to intervene in massacre of Muslim Rohingyas
An ethnic Rakhine man holds homemade weapons (Guardian)

Govt urged to intervene in massacre of Muslim Rohingyas

24 August 2012

Muslim NGOs and one of the UK’s most high profile Muslim MP have urged the British Government to intervene in the growing humanitarian crises in Rakhine, Myanmar (Burma) where Muslim Rohingyas were massacred by Buddhists and Myanmar security forces. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has refused to condemn the killings of Muslims.

Since May 29, large numbers of Muslim Rohingyas have been killed and the fate of thousands who have gone missing is unknown.

The Burmese Government does not consider Rohingya Muslims as citizens and instead regards them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Eight Muslim pilgrims along with one escort – a Muslim lady – and one helper, were hauled off a bus and killed in Taungup on June 3 by a gang of hundreds of Buddhist Rakhines.

The murder of the Muslims was apparently in retaliation for the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman six days earlier, an attack they had no connection with.

Human Rights Watch said the state of emergency resulted in a concerted period of violence being used against Rohingya communities by state security forces causing many to seek safety in neighbouring Bangladesh.

At a recent visit to Myanmar, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said discrimination against Rohingya Muslims was the cause of the violence, stressing the need for the authorities to take steps to address “long-standing issues of deprivation of citizenship, freedom of movement, and other fundamental rights” for the Rohingyas.

Even Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been an icon of human rights in Myanmar and now an MP, does not consider Muslims as citizens. Speaking at London School of Economics meeting during her visit to the UK recently, she said Rohingya Muslims should be considered as permanent residents but not as citizens. During a press conference in Downing Street she did not condemn the killings of Rohingya Muslims, instead she said, “Ethnic conflict plaguing the country” should be investigated and “dealt with wisdom.” (see The Muslim News Issue No 278)

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, has written to the High Commissioner for Bangladesh asking him to respond to reports that the refugees are being turned away by Bangladeshi authorities.

Khan has written to the UK Foreign Secretary twice, and also the Secretary of State for International Development to ask what the British Government will be doing to ensure that a humanitarian crisis does not develop.

Khan said: “It is important that the British Government uses all its influence to end this savage treatment of the Rohingya community by the Burmese authorities as a matter of urgency.”

In the letter released on August 14, charities have also urged Prime Minister, David Cameron, to “ensure that British NGOs active in the area have free access to assist the suffering Rohingya population.”

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, called on the Myanmar Government to take “lawful steps to prevent any further violence, in accordance with international human rights law. We have also called upon the communities based there to act with restraint.”

On August 15, 57-nation group, Organization of Islamic Cooperation at a summit in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, condemned “the continued recourse to violence by the Myanmar authorities against the members of this minority and their refusal to recognize their right to citizenship.”

There are 3 million Muslim Rohingyas, half of them residing in Myanmar. While 500,000 of them have taken shelter in Bangladesh, nearly 1 million others have scattered to other surrounding countries.