British MP Rushanara Ali (left), MP Jonathan Ashworth (center), and Jakril Hoque from NGO Restless Beings, protest at the British Foreign Office in London as part of the Global Day of Action for Rohingya Rights, on Thursday, November 8, 2012. (PHOTO: Restless Beings)
About 150 activists rallied outside the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in central London on Thursday, November 8, as part of a Global Day of Action in solidarity with the Rohingya community in Burma.
“It is evident that there is state-level complicity in the systematic attacks against the Rohingya, having long shifted from just inter-communal violence,” said Global Day of Action organizers Restless Beings.
The rally in London was coordinated with the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK). Speakers at the protest included MPs Jonathan Ashworth, Rushanara Ali and Baroness Cox, Tun Khin of BROUK, and Mark Farmaner of Burma Campaign UK (BCUK).
Speaking to Mizzima on Friday, BCUK’s Mark Farmaner said, “The international community is now paying attention to the situation in Rakhine State, but is not yet taking practical action. The purpose of the international day of action was to push the international community to take practical action to help pressure the government of Burma to take steps to stop the violence, allow full humanitarian access, and repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law.”
In a statement, Restless Beings said that similar rallies—including silent vigils—took place at universities across the UK, as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Canberra, Bangkok and Paris.
In a separate statement, BCUK last week called for UN international observers to be deployed to Burma’s restive western region where at least 90 people have been killed in riots and violent attacks between Rohingya Muslims and members of the Buddhist Rakhine community while more than 100,000 people have been made homeless or been displaced.
In an open letter to the British government, BCUK said, “Firm and effective action at the start of the crisis in June could have helped prevent most of what has taken place in the months following the start of the crisis. Now that the crisis has been allowed to escalate, much more robust and high-level intervention is required.”
Meanwhile, various news agencies have reported that officials in Rakhine State have begun systematic checks on Rohingya Muslims to determine which have Burmese citizenship.
According to a report this week on Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Authorities in western Burma’s Rakhine state have launched operations to track down illegal Rohingyas following weeks of fresh communal violence.”
Quoting Rakhine State government spokesman Win Myaing, the report said the investigations were initiated under the orders of President Thein Sein and that state officials had already carried out investigations in two townships near state capital Sittwe with five other townships also due to be surveyed this week.
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