GEORGE TOWN: A coalition of Malaysian NGOs has called on the Myanmar government to immediately stop the violence and arson attacks against the Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine state.
The coalition also wants President Thein Sein’s government to bring the criminals behind the violence to justice and compensate the Rohingya victims.
Currently Rohingyas are under arson attack and violence by Rakhinese ethnic group following an alleged rape – murder of a Rakhinese girl by three Rohingyas last month.
The arson attacks and violence against the community is said to have spread in many parts of Rakhine state.
The NGO coalition comprises Citizens International, UJN, ABIM, MAPIM, SHURA, KUMS-Malaysia, TERAS, PUM, WADAH, SALIMAH, GAMIS, PKPIM, PUK, MSA-Stevens and UNIROD.
In a joint statement, the coalition chairman SM Mohamed Idris condemned the killings and failure of authorities to protect the Rohingya civilian population.
The coalition would now lobby internationally to stop the violence, including submitting memorandums to United Nations and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
This Friday, the coalition will hold a two-km peaceful march from the Tabung Haji mosque to hand over a memorandum to the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Both the US and EU recently eased sanctions on Burma amid a process of reform that began with the election of a military-backed nominally civilian government in November 2010 that ended decades of military rule.
Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh
Activists, however, have criticised Yangon for allowing troops to take control of the western province and have asked that journalists, aid workers and diplomats be allowed into the area.
“The violence is spiralling out of control under the government’s watch,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement.
President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency late Sunday night after unrest over the weekend saw rival Buddhist and Muslim groups setting houses on fire.
Idris also called Yangon administration to recognise the Rohingyas as citizens with equal rights as other ethnic groups in Myanmar.
Rohingyas are a stateless Muslim group in Myanmar as Yangon considers them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Idris said the Rohingya community has faced discrimination and persecution from the Myanmar military regime for over 60 years.
He said it was wrong for Yangon to classify Rohingyas as illegal immigrants when the community had always been a permanent ethnic community in Myanmar.
Idris called on Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy to convene a dialogue with the Rohingya community to address their grievances.
Source: Free Malaysia Today