Wednesday, July 18, 2012

58 civil groups issue statement on Arakan State violence

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:45 Mizzima News

A coalition of 58 civil society groups has condemned what it says is a “wave of abuse launched by state authorities in Myanmar against the Rohingya community,” in a statement released on Tuesday.

It also charged Bangladesh with flouting international law in its attempts to prevent fleeing Rohingya from entering the country.

The coalition group – led by Refugees International, the Arakan Project, and the Equal Rights Trust – issued a series of recommendations that were delivered to the governments of Burma and Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The statement said: “The stateless Rohingya of Myanmar have suffered from extreme persecution and discrimination for decades. They are now facing another crisis,” and the Rohingya population “needs urgent measures to be taken for their protection.”

“In Myanmar, what began as inter-communal violence has evolved into large scale state-sponsored violence against the Rohingya,” said the statement.

The violence began on June 3, mainly in Sittwe and Maungdaw townships.

“Many Rohingya continue to be victims of violence and cannot leave their homes for fear of persecution, and are thus deprived of their livelihood and most basic needs,” said the advocacy groups. “The urgent humanitarian needs of those displaced (IDPs) – including those not in IDP camps – are not being adequately met and there is concern that those displaced will not be allowed to return to their homes as soon as it is safe to do so, thus creating a situation of protracted displacement.”

The coalition said Bangladesh “in contravention of its international legal obligations, closed its border and pushed back many Rohingya fleeing the violence and persecution in Myanmar. The refoulement of these refugees by Bangladesh to Myanmar where they face a very immediate threat to life and freedom, and a danger of irreparable harm; and the manner of refoulement, by push backs into dangerous waters, including in unsafe vessels are matters of serious concern.”

The legal obligations of both Burma and Bangladesh require them to protect all persons within their territories or subject to their jurisdictions, regardless of whether they are citizens, stateless persons or refugees, said the statement.

The group called for Burma and the Rakhine State authorities to stop the arbitrary arrests of Rohingya and abuses by security forces against them, to allow unhindered humanitarian access to assist those in need as a result of the crisis, allow the displaced to return to their homes once it is safe, and to ensure that a situation of protracted displacement is avoided. It also called for an international inquiry into the unrest and the violence.

It called on the Bangladesh government to open its borders to refugees and to stop refoulement of refugees, and it asked the international community to provide financial support for the humanitarian operation needed to assist people affected by the crisis in Rakhine State and to support the government of Bangladesh in providing protection to Rohingya refugees.

It also asked Burma to address “existing policies of discrimination against the Rohingya; and that this current crisis be used as an opportunity to address the longstanding problems between the communities in Rakhine State, and to promote a constructive dialogue aiming at peace and reconciliation.”

The following groups endorsed the statement:

1. Act for Peace (Australia)
2. Actions Birmanie Belgium
3. Altsean-Burma
4. Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
5. Burma Campaign UK
6. Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan
7. Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
8. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
9. Catholic Tokyo International Center
10. Christian Coalition for Refugee and Migrant Workers, Japan
11. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
12. Church World Service - Immigration and Refugee Program
13. Civil Development Organization, Iraq
14. Dalit NGO Federation (DNF)
15. Equal Rights Trust        
16. ESCR-Asia Pakistan
17. Euro-Burma Office
18. Fahamu Refugee Programme
19. Health Equity Initiatives, Kuala Lumpur
20. Human Rights and Genocide Clinic, Cardozo School of Law
21. Imparsial (Indonesia)
22. Info Birmanie
23. INFORM Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
24. International Detention Coalition
25. International Observatory on Statelessness
26. Japan Association for Refugees
27. Japan Evangelical Lutheran Association
28. Jesuit Refugee Service
29. Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific
30. Jesuit Social Center, Japan
31. Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)
32. Migrant Forum in Asia
33. Minority Rights Group International
34. Organization for Defending Victims of Violence
35. Partnership for Pastoralists Development Association(PAPDA)
36. People's Forum on Burma(Japan)
37. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
38. Physicians for Human Rights
39. Praxis
40. Project Maje
41. Rafiq Japan
42. Rebirth Society
43. Refugee Council USA
44. Refugees International
45. RefugePoint
46. Restless Beings
47. Rohingya Society in Malaysia (RSM)
48. Society for Threatened Peoples / Germany
49. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
50. Stateless Network
51. Sudan Peace Humanitarian Organisation
52. Swedish Burma Committee
53. Tenaganita
54. The Arakan Project
55. The May 18 Memorial Foundation
56. The Refuge Pnan
57. United to End Genocide
58. WOREC Nepal

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