British MPs this week said the situation in Rakhine State in Burma is an issue of human rights, justice and desperate humanitarian need, and called for the British government to respond.
Speakers said that reports indicated that some members of the Burmese security services have been directly engaged in violence towards the Rohingya, with allegations of mass killings, mass arrests and looting.
Responding to the debate, Tun Khin, president of BROUK, said, “The Burmese Government must be held to account for how they are treating the Muslim people. Injustice is being done to the Rohingya people.”
“It has been three months since Rohingya have not been able to leave their homes in Kyauktaw, Min Bya, Puaktaw Pone Nar Kyun and Mrauk Oo,” he said in a statement issued by the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
Many Rohingyas do not have any food and are afraid to leave their homes, he said.
“They have become refugees in their homes,” he said. “Urgent UN monitor teams must be allowed into the area and we need a UN Commission of Inquiry into who perpetrated crimes against humanity against Rohingyas.”
He called on the UK government to withdraw the invitation to President Thein Sein to visit the UK in order to bring home to him the seriousness of the current situation.
He also asked the British Government “to ensure strong wording in the upcoming UN General Assembly Resolution on Burma, including reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law and the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry into what has taken place in Arakan State.”
Days after the violence started, security forces began targeting predominantly Muslim areas and arrested many Rohingya men and boys, who have not been heard of since, according to a BROUK statement.
MPs said the violence of the summer has brought Burma’s 1982 citizenship law into sharp focus, and noted calls for the Burmese government to repeal that law and to replace it with a new law based on human rights, which recognizes and respects the equal rights of all the Burmese people and is in accordance with international standards.
Jonathan Ashworth, MP, who opened the debate, said that historically, the Burmese government was, perhaps, more sympathetic towards citizenship rights in relation to the Rohingya.
The first president of Burma said that the “Muslims of Arakan certainly belong to the indigenous races of Burma. If they do not belong to the indigenous races, we also cannot be taken as indigenous races,” he said.
MPs mentioned that if the Burmese government is serious about democratic reform, it should eliminate discriminatory laws, and also urged the Government of Bangladesh to treat the refugees with more compassion and to allow the United Nations and other groups greater access to provide humanitarian aid.