Burma: CSW Calls for Independent Inquiry into Crimes Against Humanity
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling for an independent international inquiry into grave violations of human rights, including allegations of crimes against humanity, in Rakhine State, Burma, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Rohingya Muslims. CSW also calls for the Burmese Government to immediately lift all restrictions on humanitarian aid to the region.
The death of nine police officers on Burma’s frontier with Bangladesh in Rakhine State, which the Burmese military claimed was an act of terrorism by a small group of Rohingya Muslims, sparked a severe military offensive against civilians which led to the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State since 2012.
Ms Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said on 18 November that “State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has recently stated that the Government is responding to the situation based on the principle of the rule of law. Yet I am unaware of any efforts on the part of the Government to look into the allegations of human rights violations.”
At least 30,000 Rohingya Muslims have been displaced, and hundreds have died in the violence. The military have committed human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims including the burning of homes, mass rape, torture, execution without trial and the blocking of aid. Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have fled to the Bangladeshi border but have been denied asylum.
John McKissick, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar, told the BBC that the Burmese government is seeking the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya minority from its territory.
The Burma government rejects reports of human rights abuses but refuses to allow an international inquiry into Rakhine State to investigate and has also denied access to international aid agencies and journalists. According to media reports, on 23 November, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation were given access to Buthidaung Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp for the first time, but the only families to receive aid were Buddhist. Blocks on international aid and press continue in the region.
CSW is calling for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to meet with the Burmese government to demand that the block on humanitarian aid be lifted immediately.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The Burmese government have refused access to independent international observers and international aid agencies for too long. The military are committing grievous human rights violations against a stateless, vulnerable minority with impunity. They have used religious and racial hatred combined with national security concerns as a justification for atrocities. The military response to the initial attack on Burmese border police has been grossly disproportionate and reports indicate grave crimes against humanity. The international community cannot stand idly by while peaceful civilians are mown down by helicopter guns, hundreds of women are raped and tens of thousands are left without homes. We need an impartial international investigation and we need aid on the ground. If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets, and we may end up being the passive observers of ethnic cleansing.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Senior Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email [email protected] or visit www.csw.org.uk.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
Notes to Editors:
1. Click here to join CSW’s campaign to see an end to the block on humanitarian aid in Burma