By Green Left
The Rohingya are an ethnic group facing extreme persecution in Burma (Myanmar). Australia has been criticised for failing to accept Rohingya asylum seekers as refugees.
The statement below was released on October 18 by 35 groups in Malaysia and the Asian region, including human rights groups and political parties such as the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the current escalation of violence and the further brutal crackdown against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, Myanmar.
Myanmar security and other forces have occupied the area around Maungdaw in response to attacks by unknown assailants on border posts on October 9. The authorities have accused Rohingyas of carrying out the attacks and are now taking recrimination against the Rohingya population.
We have reports of killings, rape, abductions, forced evictions, beatings, the burning of homes and communities and the general terrorising of the local Rohingya population. The very real concern is that this situation will deteriorate even further and possibly quickly.
We call on all parties to put a stop to this terrible situation with immediate effect.
This is not the first time that there has been state-sanctioned violence against the Rohingya women, men and children who are still trying to live their lives in dignity in their homeland. There is extensive documentation of more than 30 years of systematic violence, discrimination and repression against the Rohingyas by the government of Myanmar and its friends.
Thousands have been killed, thousands of women sexually violated and physically abused and hundreds of thousands forced to flee (often into the hands of human traffickers). Most recently the Rohingya have been written out of the Constitution, denied any citizenship rights and rendered stateless.
The government of Myanmar must take complete responsibility for the situation. It has consistently failed to protect the rights of the Rohingya and consistently failed to give them any protection. Instead, it has consistently denied them their rights as human beings and citizens and has sanctioned hatred, bigotry, racism, violence and deprivation against them for years.
The current violence re-ignites fears that there will be another round of state-sanctioned killings, violence, destruction and land appropriation. This would force ever more Rohingya away from their homeland and worsen the humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya and the region.
It is long overdue that this stopped. We hereby call upon the government of Myanmar to:
• Immediately stop the killings and violence in Rakhine State;
• Respect, restore and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people, including re-recognising them as citizens with full rights to freedom of movement, marriage, education, healthcare, justice, protection and more;
• Expedite the work of the nine member State Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan, charged with finding solutions to the situation in Rakhine state. The Commission should help ensure that any person or persons, whoever they may be, who have been involved in killings, rape, abductions, or any other abuse of the basic rights of people are brought to justice. That all properties and land destroyed in the recent violence are restored to their rightful owners and compensation paid for any loss. That steps are taken to rehabilitate and reintegrate all internally displaced persons and refugees who have fled their homes because of the conflict in Rakhine state; and
• Lift all restrictions of aid to Rakhine state and allow unfettered access to Rohingya for persons including international aid workers and media.
We also call upon the ASEAN community and all other parties to take immediate steps to facilitate the process for a lasting peaceful solution for the ongoing crisis in Rakhine state.
We urge the governments of ASEAN to recognise the basic rights of refugees, including all Rohingya refugees, and to provide proper and timely humanitarian assistance to those fleeing the terrible situation.
List of endorsing organisations:
1. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
2. Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign
3. PSM Youth
4. Community Development Centre (CDC)
5. Rohinya Society in Malaysia
8. KL & Chinese Assembly Hall Civil Rights Committee
9. Alumni PBTUSM Northern Region
10. Migrant CARE
12. Projek Dialog
13. Building and Wood Workers’ International Asia-Pacific Branch
14. Islamic Renaissance Front
15. Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
16. Pesatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
17. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
18. Perak Women for Women
19. Hindraf People’s Movement
20. North South Initiative
22. Child Development Initiative
23. Malaysian Indian Youth Council
24. People’s Service Organisations
25. Semparuthi Iyakkam
26. Academy of Tamil Studies
27. Persatuan Kebajikan Orang-orang Miskin Malaysia (PERKOM)
28. Pemuda Youth
29. Network of the Oppressed People (JERIT)
30. Youth Wing of Malaysian Dravidian Association
31. ROYALTI Kelantan
33. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia
34. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
35. Third World Network