This week a youtube link popped up in my facebook inbox with the very commanding and affecting title of ‘They will kill us all, please help us’. This dramatic cry is the voice of the Rohingya, a Muslim people who live in the Arakan region of Burma.
The Rohingya have been the subject of international concern amongst the refugee community for some time; but the general public know little about them. The UN have labelled them the most persecuted group in the world suffering systematic abuses throughout the years. It seems that the National Government of Burma have never accepted them as Burmese, considering them as illegal settlers during British rule.
The abuses have been particularly bloody in the last two months. According to the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), on 3rd June 2012, 10 Muslims were massacred on a Tabligh pilgrimage to Sandoway town, by Rakhine extremists in front of Security forces who leisurely turned a blind eye.
On 8th June, Lun Htin and Nasaka security forces killed at least 2 Muslims in Maungdaw Town while Muslims were peacefully marching to say prayers for the victims of the previous week’s carnage. On 9th June, Rakhine extremists and security forces attacked and burnt down some Mulsim villages in Akyab and Rambree and looted Muslim shops and properties. BROUK claim at least 200 Muslims were killed while many others injured. Dead bodies have been detained by the security forces and so exact number of deaths could not be confirmed. Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission said on 11 July that at least 78 people had been killed since the violence began, but unofficial estimates exceed 100. Burmese President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in the Rakhine State as riots spread between Buddhist and Muslim villagers, with attacks on both sides. Six weeks since the state of emergency was declared, Amnesty International (AI) claim that the abuses against Rohingya have increased by security forces. AI have received reports of arbitrary and illegal detention of Rohingya men and boys, ill-treatment, physical abuse, rape, destruction of property and unlawful killings carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces. Since the violence has begun a figure being circulated on the internet is that 25,000 Rohingya have been killed, 1000 on 12 July alone; however, it is uncertain where these figures have come from, partly because of the sparcity of mainstream channels covering the situation. Doing a google search on Rohingya massacre, Burma massacre, state of emergency Burma, results are only yielded by independent bloggers and some lesser known news sites in Iran and Pakistan.
Nothing from CNN, nothing from the Guardian, nothing from BBC, nothing from Al Jazeera – in fact barely anything. Perhaps it is the lack of vested interest in this part of the world or these people but it is surely a matter of time before the global community has to speak up. Much like the 2010 conflict in Sri Lanka, there is only so long the silence can be kept. But how many more people have to suffer till then?
Help speed things up:
Make people aware, share a video, write to your MP to demand to stop the killings and violence against the Muslims in Burma and to put pressure on Burmese government to conduct independent and impartial enquiry on the gruesome murders and take exemplary action against the culprits.
Find out more about the situation through:
Do you work for an organisation in this area? Please leave a comment if you have more facts.