Rohingya in Burma are being systematically persecuted by the government and denied basic human rights, the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) told the British All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma on Wednesday.
BROUK President Tun Khin, along with Benedict Rogers, the East Asia Team Leader of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, described the situation of Rohingyas in Rakhine State at a meeting of British lawmakers chaired by Baroness Kinnock.
Tun Khin said the current sectarian unrest has been influenced by hardliners in the government who do not want to see reforms in Burma, and the Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP), which reject Rohingya as members of Burma's ethnic groups. In recent months, there have been an increasing number of anti-Rohingya activities, including seminars in Rangoon and in Arakan State organized by the RNDP, Tun Khin said.
According to Tun Khin, at least 650 Rohingyas have been killed in the sectarian violence, and at least 1,200 are missing. Official government figures this week said up to 80 people died in the clashes including Buddhist and Muslims.
He said 22 villages have been burned down and 14 mosques destroyed. He noted that Bangladesh has refused entry to Rohingyas at its borders, and has pushed back at least 16 boats seeking access to Bangladesh. The curfew imposed by President Thein Sein has only been applied to Rohingyas and not Rakhine, he said.
Tun Khin said: “We really need U.N. observers in Arakan (Rakhine) State. Even though the riots were stopped some Rohingya houses are still being burned down by Rakhines… We urge the British government to put effective pressure on the Burmese regime to stop the killings and violence against the Muslim Rohingyas in Arakan and to restore peace and security in the region, to allow the international community and NGOs to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to all the victims regardless of race or religion.”
He asked Britain to pressure the Burmese government to provide security to ensure Rohingya can safely return to their homes, for Bangladesh to open its borders to refugees fleeing persecution, for the government to offer citizenship to Rohingya who qualify and to fight against anti-Muslim activities and racism in the country.
“There is a solution if the regime is willing to negotiate between the two communities,” he said.