Current News

British MPs Support Rohingya Motion In Parliament

February 5, 2013

Burma Campaign UK today welcomed Early Day Motion 838 on Burma, tabled by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma (APPG Burma). So far 57 MPs across all parties have signed the motion, calling for international observers, full international access to deliver humanitarian aid, and the repeal of the racist 1982 citizenship law in Burma. An Early Day Motion (EDM) is a kind of parliamentary petition.

The motion concerns the ongoing attacks against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority in Burma. The British MPs noted that in October 2012 the attacks also began against the Kaman Muslim ethnic minority and that the police, state security and also national Burmese Army soldiers were reported to be taking part in some of the attacks. They also express concerns about the request of President Thein Sein for international assistance in deporting all Rohingya from Burma, which gives encouragement to the those carrying out the attacks.

The motion calls on the British government to support the placement of UN-mandated international observers in Rakhine State, to work to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access is granted to all Rohingya areas, to support a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the violence, and to encourage the government of Burma to repeal or amend the 1982 citizenship law which deprives the Rohingya of citizenship.

Since violence erupted in June last year in Burma’s Rakhine State, more than 100,000 people have been displaced. This violence has evolved into systematic attacks against the ethnic Rohingya. In addition, Burma’s 1982 citizenship law excludes several ethnic groups and underpins the persecution and discrimination of the Rohingya. The President of Burma has even proposed that the United Nations arrange for Rohingya people to be removed from Burma and sent to third countries.

Many of those forced to flee the violence are living in squalid camps in desperate need of food and shelter. There is severe overcrowding, child malnutrition, totally inadequate water and sanitation, and almost no education available in the camps. Thein Sein’s government restricts international assistance to refugees and IDPs.

“The British government opted for a softly-softly approach to the military-backed government of Burma instead of pressuring them to halt abuses. Trying to become close to the government and promoting trade and investment ensured that they were confident they can get away with not taking action and exploiting the crisis to build public support,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We are concerned that violence will erupt again unless concrete action is taken by the Burmese Government. More pressure from the international community is urgently needed to persuade them to take concrete action. The British government must respond to the call from Parliamentarians and re-evaluate its currently policy of soft engagement with the military-backed government in light of its failure over the Rohingya crisis”.

Early Day Motion 838 : ATTACKS AGAINST ROHINGYA IN BURMA

That this House is concerned by the ongoing attacks against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority in Burma; notes that attacks have now begun against the Kaman Muslim ethnic minority; further notes that police, state security and national Burmese Army soldiers are reported to be taking part in some of the attacks; is further concerned by President Thein Sein’s request for international assistance in deporting all Rohingya from Burma which gives encouragement to alleged mobs carrying out the attacks; calls on the Government to support the placement of UN-mandated international observers in Rakhine State; further calls on the Government to work to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access is granted to all Rohingya areas, to support a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the violence, and to encourage the government of Burma to repeal or amend the 1982 citizenship law which deprives the Rohingya of citizenship.