July 16, 2012
As president of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), I feel it is important to express my deep regret for the failure of the world to react appropriately to the killing and persecution of Muslim ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State, Burma.
It is also regrettable that the recent visit of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Southeast Asia occupied the attention of most international media while neglecting and thus tolerating the casualties of grave crimes against humanity in Burma.
AIPMC is deeply troubled by the sectarian strife in Rakhine State and is concerned by the solution to the violence proposed by President Thein Sein.
The president’s proposed solution to decades of sectarian violence and unrest does not express a willingness to promote national reconciliation, which the president campaigned under as on part of his democratization agenda. Despite the flow of some of new migrants from Bangladesh, many people of the Rohingya minority have lived in areas of western Burma for more than three generations.
AIPMC therefore urges the government of Burma to find a fair and just solution to the current unrest, which includes a permanent solution for the hundreds of thousands stateless Rohingya that live in western Burma and in makeshift refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Rohingya who have lived in Burma for generations must be recognized and granted citizenship.
The Burmese government has a duty to protect and provide for these people; seeking to unload responsibility onto the United Nations is not an acceptable solution and its suggestion from the country’s president betrays the systematic persecution of Burma’s Rohingya population for generations.
AIPMC also urges Asean and the United Nations to urgently respond to this latest outbreak of the crisis and take immediate actions to protect people, including women and children, from violence and persecution and work to provide emergency assistance to thousands of refugees displaced from their homes by recent violence. ASEAN must work with the Burmese government to find a lasting solution to the problems of Rakhine State and stand up against any persecution of individuals due to ethnic and/or religious grounds, especially if it comes from state authorities.
AIPMC finds it difficult to accept the US government’s decision to ease economic sanctions in Burma due to supposed reforms in the ASEAN member state, while a blind eye is turned to the clear violations of international law in the persecution of the Rohingya people by neighbouring Arakanese as well as the Burmese government’s refusal to grant them citizenship on ethnic and religious grounds.
A serious and concerted effort is urgently needed to work to avert further violence and find a lasting solution to the problems faced by the Rohingya. A failure to of the international community to act is reprehensible and could threaten the long-term success of Burma’s nascent reform process. Immediate action is necessary to end the suffering of the Rohingya people.