Special Rappertour on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar should conduct a comprehensive
investigation for the situation of Rohingya Muslim in Burma
KontraS received information that several acts of violence took place following the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman in late May 2012, in which the perpetrators were alleged Rohingya Muslims. Subsequently, on June 2nd, 2012 ten Muslim bus passengers were beaten to death by a mob seeking revenge for the crime. In the days that followed, there have been numerous and conflicting reports of further sectarian attacks perpetrated by both Buddhist and Muslim residents.
Since June 2nd, 2012, the conflict has significantly increased, however we believes that the conflict is related to the policies of the Burmese government in dealing with the Rohingya Muslim residents. The Burmese government has conducted several discriminatory policies against Rohingya Muslims, particularly under Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Act which renders Rohingyas stateless and utterly without protection.
Various reports and news observe that the state political party, the Rhakine Democratic National Party (RNDP), Nasaka - the border guard force - and police appear to be conducting an unprecedented campaign of harassment, torture, and oppression against Rohingya residents.
In response to the above mentioned matter, the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, stated to the media that “Burma will take responsibility for its ethnic nationalities but it is not at all possible to recognize the illegal border-crossing Rohingya who are not an ethnic [group] in Burma.” Thein Sein also said that the government was prepared to hand over the Rohingyas to the UNHCR and then resettle the ethnic group in any third country “that are willing to take them”.
KontraS affirms that the President Thein Sein’s statement is a wrong diagnosis. Indeed, the Burmese government must take substantive measures to develop and guarantee an effective peace process. Its attempt should be given more importance and be fully in accordance with the international human rights instruments.
We worry that wrong treatment by the Myanmar government will cause wide conflict and violence. It is important that the Burmese government must endeavor to develop peace and stop the discrimination towards ethnic Rohingya. Bridging and maintain communication among the ethnic group is first step that the government should prioritize.
As a result of the series of conflicts the Rohingya Muslims have become de facto refugees. They face uncertain conditions and various threats both from inside the country and by third countries; as the latter often refuse to grant them political asylum. We, strongly call on the governments of Myanmar, Bangladesh and any other third country to respect the 1951 Refugee Convention, and in particular Article 33 regarding prohibition of expulsion or return (Refoulement).
KontraS therefore call the Special Rappertour on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar to conduct a comprehensive investigation and take particular notice of any state involvement or negligence in the conflict. We call for its mandate to visit and observe the current situation of Rohingya Muslims and the voluntary resettlement of refugees either in Burma, Bangladesh or other third. Furthermore, the Special Rappertour on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar should ensure more attention from the international community to the security protection for Rohingya Muslim in particular and civilian Burmese at large.
Jakarta, 19 July 2012
Executive Director of KontraS