We, the undersigned Rohingya organizations and communities worldwide are deeply concerned with the recent developments following clashes in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar on August 25, 2017. We appeal the international community to exercise “the Responsibility to Protect” as the Rohingya civilian population plunges into another episode of widespread “crimes against humanity” under the hands of Myanmar Armed Forces.
Less than a year after “clearance operations” in the volatile region where U.N. and several human rights organizations have documented strong evidence which they described as “crimes against humanity”, and “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya, Myanmar military has ramped up the security forces again and is using disproportionate force against the Rohingya civilians following the clashes in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships.
The reports that have emerged from the ground since August 25, point to the severe human rights violations being committed. The use of excessive force against the entire Rohingya community, reportedly including machine-gunned helicopters, has resulted in mass civilian casualties surpassing the triple-figure mark in only two days’ time. Thousands of Rohingya from at least 25 villages are displaced as their villages were set on fire with rocket-launchers. Many villagers in isolated locations are attempting to take shelter in the jungle, others have risked crossing the Myanmar-Bangladesh border most are stranded on the Myanmar-side of the Naf River as Bangladesh tightens its border security and continues to push back the fleeing Rohingya. The civilians are inundated with an acute humanitarian crisis and medical emergency. In addition to the existing medical conditions and injuries sustained from indiscriminate firing from the armed forces Rohingya are subjected to the commandeering of their homes, destruction of property and livestock.
The timing of the release of Kofi Annan’s Rakhine State Advisory Commission final report and the alleged clashes at about 20 police posts, is no coincidence. It is a calculated attempt to undermine the recommendations of the commission, which proposes granting of Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement, healthcare and education, access to humanitarian aid, media civilians.
In her official statement on August 25, the state-counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself mentioned that her “government has been aware of the risk of attacks to coincide with the release of the Commission’s final report.” Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing showed dissatisfaction of the recommendations and called them “factually flaws and deficient”.
There are very clear lines to be drawn connecting all the events that have been taking place in the recent weeks: the mobilization of a highly advanced army battalion and other security forces in the northern region of Rakhine State; the high-level meeting between Min Aung Hlaing and Rakhine nationalist party ANP lawmakers; the visit of now-rebranded Ma Ba Tha’s firebrand monk Wirathu to Rakhine State; the failure to pass the proposal in parliament for an increase of security measures and creation of fully trained and armed “people’s militia” against the Rohingya civilians.
There were repeated acts of provocations against Rohingya civilians particularly in Rathedaung township, where several Rohingya villages were under complete blockade with repetitive raids, harassments, physical tortures and arbitrary arrests of village leaders, until it reached the boiling point on August 23 and 24 when almost all Rohingya men from Auk Nan Yar (Razar Bil), Rathedaung were taken away by the armed forces leaving vulnerable women, children and elderly in agonizing humanitarian and emotional crises.
Based on the above facts, it is clear that Myanmar Armed Forces have the hidden agenda of manufacturing clashes to justify mass killing, rape, arrest and the scorched-earth policy that applied during “clearance operations”. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s departments, ministry of information and ministry of state-counsellor office, pave the path for the armed forces to commit “crimes against humanity” by labelling the whole Rohingya community as “terrorists” or “terrorist sympathizers”, although the community is amongst the most peaceful in Myanmar despite being suffered more than four decades of state-sponsored discrimination, persecution and extermination pogroms.
We, therefore, urge the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the members of ASEAN, the neighboring countries – Bangladesh, Indian and China, and the international community to promptly act upon “the Responsibility to Protect” and push Myanmar on the following:
1. To abide by rule of law and refrain from human rights violations
2. To prevent use of disproportionate force on the Rohingya civilians
3. To provide full safety and protection to the Rohingya civilians
4. To allow access to food, humanitarian and media in the affected area in Rakhine State
5. To safely return the civilians to their respective villages
6. To stop equipping and training of Civilian populations in the region
7. To stop labelling of peaceful-loving persecuted Rohingya population as “terrorists”
8. To stop spread of inflammatory and propaganda against the Rohingya community on the state-controlled and privately-own media outlet in Myanmar
9. To urge Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to promptly implement the recommendations made by Kofi Annan’s Rakhine State Advisory Commission.
The European Rohingya Council (ERC)
Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
The Rohingya Community in North America
The Rohingya Community Ireland and UK
The Rohingya Community Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands
The Rohingya Community in Diaspora
The Rohingya Community in Myanmar
For media contact:
Dr. Anita Schug, +491575 0685496
Dr. Hla Kyaw, +31652358202