On behalf of Rohingya people of Burma, we, the undersigned communities and organizations, call upon the political parties of Ireland to raise the issues of human rights abuses, the allegations of “ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya and the blockage of humanitarian aid and independent investigations in Rakhine State, Burma.
Professor Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situations of Human Rights in Burma on December 11, 2016 said, “Things are not as they are being portrayed by the government. (But)… getting very close to what we would all agree are crimes against humanity (regarding Rohingya)” being committed by the army and Border Guard Police (BGP) since the unfolding of ongoing “clearance operations” against marginalized Rohingya civilians north of Maungdaw Township after “an unknown assailant” group attacked three police outposts.
It is not the first Rohingya community to have been the subject of a military campaign. On December 10, 2016, Zein bin Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed that “crimes against humanity could well have been committed against Rohingya over many decades.”
“Crime against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of the Rohingyas”, one of the first major research reports on the plight of Rohingya funded by the Irish Government and published by Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway on June 16, 2010, found that “there is a reliable body of evidence pointing to acts constituting a widespread or systematic attack against the Rohingya civilian population… These appear to satisfy the requirements under international criminal law for the perpetration of crimes against humanity.”
In October 2015, the International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School found “strong evidence” that genocide is being committed against Rohingya and documented their findings in “Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar (Burma)’s Rakhine State?”. Similar findings have been observed in United To End Genocide’s “Marching to Genocide in Burma” where it is stated that “nowhere in the world are there more known precursors to genocide than in Burma today” against Rohingya.
The acts of genocide in June and November 2012 were largely ignored when nearly 140,000 Rohingya were removed from their villages and sent to confined internally displaced camps where they continue to live in inhumane conditions with little access to food, water, shelter, education and healthcare. More than 165,000 people have been forced to take perilous sea journeys to escape the atrocities, some of whom have become the victims of human traffickers, abandoned in the Andaman Sea, in boats without engines.
During this time, the people of Ireland extended a warm welcome to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and she was eventually able to receive the Freedom of the City of Dublin in person on June 18, 2012 for her struggle under house arrest in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi made no comment on the attacks being made on the Rohingya people during her overseas trip. However, Aung San Suu Kyi is now the State Counsellor of Myanmar (Burma) and head of the power-sharing government, controlling both the houses of parliament, with responsibility for all the people of Myanmar (Burma). The ongoing clearance operations against Rohingya under her new government raise serious questions added with her continuous silence and defence of “the allegations of ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya by the military.
The crimes against humanity have cost more than 720 Rohingya civilian lives with nearly 1000 under arbitrary arrest, with used gang-rape being used as “the weapon of war” against more than 250 Rohingya women. At least 3000 houses have been burnt, this devastation which has been captured in Human Rights Watch’s satellite images, forced more than 40,000 Rohingya civilians to become homeless and who are now at high risk of mass-starvation and endemic illnesses. More than 21,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee to Bangladesh while many boats were pushed back by Border Guard Bangladesh resulting in many being stranded in Naf River for days, their whereabouts still unknown. Many people have reportedly drowned or been shot by Burmese Border Guards as in the case of December 5 drowning where at least 31 Rohingya boat people died, mostly children and women. In the meantime, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military institution continue with a “blanket denial” of access to humanitarian aid.
BBC, CNN, Reuters and Al-Jazeera media outlet have released leaked graphic videos of women and children being burnt alive along in their houses, summary killing of Rohingya youths as young as 13 years old, accounts of rape victims who “begged for contraception” and heartrending suffering of the rape victims from the internal injuries and bleeding while agonizingly waiting for treatment. They are the tip of iceberg of what is taking place in the ground.
After much international criticism, President Htin Kyaw formed a 13- member commission of injury on December 1, “to probe into the background situations that lead to violent attacks and the truth about the incidents”, without the inclusion of a single member of Rohingya. Moreover, the commission is chaired by Vice-President 1 U Myint Swe who, as the Chief of Military Security Affairs, oversaw the notorious border security force NaSaKa which committed severe human rights violations until it was defunct in July 2013. The similar commissions of inquiry were formed following the massacre of 10 Muslim pilgrimages in Taungup Township of Rakhine State on June 3, 2012, the genocidal campaign unfolded on June 8, 2012 and the Duchira Dan Massacre took place on January 13, 2014. All the commissions have distorted facts, covered up the evidence and blamed the Rohingya victims instead of the perpetrators.
On December 12, the members of new commission of inquiry visited Maungdaw Township where the military have pre-arranged Rohingya men and women to be presented to the commission. A Rohingya woman who wants to remain anonymous, recalled the meeting with the commission, “I was taken by the military to the Natala (Buddhist Resettlement) village where the commissioners, surrounded by the military personals and the Buddhists villagers, asked ‘whether I think I was actually raped, whether they torn my clothes apart and how I was raped’ when I tried to reveal mental and physical nightmares.”
It is worrisome that the way the commission undertake the investigation without involvement of independent or international observers and not taking the accounts of actual victims and not visiting the places massive destructions.
Meanwhile, the situations of Rohingya become dire as days go by without international pressure on the crimes against humanity, the blockage of humanitarian aid and the independent investigations on “the ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya.
The allegations “must be verified as a matter of urgency” and “the patterns of violations against the Rohingya” must be stopped and substantial solutions for the Rohingya community in Burma and the refugees in Bangladesh.
We request all Irish political parties bring the issues in support of establishing a UN-led Commission of Inquiry for the crimes against humanity committed against the persecuted Rohingya community, to lift “the blanket denial” of access to humanitarian assistance, to provide the lost rights – freedom of nationality, movement, religion, marriage, education, healthcare, life, liberty and security, and to call the government of Bangladesh to temporarily provide shelter to the victims of the clearance operations.
Burma Action Ireland (BAI)
Bangladeshi Community in Ireland
Rohingya Community Ireland (RCI)
European Rohingya Council (ERC)
For further information:
Burma Action Ireland
Bangladeshi Community in Ireland
Rohingya Community Ireland
Hichael Rashid @HaikalMansor
European Rohingya Council
“What Rohingyas are facing is a textbook case of Genocide in which an entire indigenous community is being systematically wiped out by the Burmese government.”
The seven Nobel Peace Laureates – Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Tawakkol Karma, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Oslo, May 28, 2015
“(Burma’s persecution of the Rohingya) is a slow genocide. It’s not like Rwanda. It is not like Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia. It is not even like what exactly happened in Nazi Germany… It is institutionalized killing.”
Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University, November 4, 2014
“We sounded the alarm in 2015 that what we saw amount to the early stages of a genocidal process. Local sources now report a ramped up security and military presence, additional restrictions on freedom of movement, and a further limiting of access to food and healthcare.”
Professor Penny Green, Professor of Law and Globalization, Queen Mary University of London, Director of the International State Crime Initiative, October 17, 2016
“There’s historical precedent for the (Burmese) authorities using lethal force against Rohingya in the area and we’re concerned a crackdown is unfolding.”
Matthew Smith, Founder and Chief Executive of Fortify Rights, October 12, 2016
“If Myanmar’s security forces are not involved in many human rights violations as the authorities claim, then they should have no trouble granting independent observers access so they can help establish the truth on the ground.”
Rafendi Djamin, Regional Director of Amnesty International, October 28, 2016
“They are starting to harass the (Rohingya) community even more by trying to say, ‘You’re not a citizen, you can’t do this, you can’t do that – you need permission. So really, there is more oppression in the last few months under the NLD (National League for Democracy) government than there was before.”
Chris Lewa, Consultant and Coordinator of the Arakan Project, October 15, 2016