The world’s most persecuted minority, the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar (Burma), is currently facing the terror of another bloody military campaign against them. Hundreds have been killed, tens of thousands of refugees are trapped on the border into Bangladesh without basic food and medicine; more than 73,000 have now fled across the border since August 25 according to the United Nations. Another 30,000 are trapped in hilly terrain without basic supplies of food, water or medicine in the northern Rakhine State.
An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar in the western coastal state of Rakhine. They are an ethnic Muslim group who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar. They are not considered one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups and have been denied citizenship by Myanmar, which has effectively rendered them stateless. The Rohingya have long been persecuted by the Myanmar government. Despite living in the country for generations, they have been denied citizenship and are regularly harassed.
In the recent wave of violence against the Rohingya, there are reports of beatings, torture, shooting, hacking to death, and rape. Rohingya children and civilians have been beheaded and burned alive, according to witness testimony amid claims that Burma’s military and paramilitary forces are committing ‘genocide’ or a ‘massacre’ against the Muslim minority. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released devastating satellite photos from inside the region, showing the total destruction of a Muslim village in northern Rakhine State. The photos show that about 700 buildings have been burned down, making up about 99% of the Chein Khar Li village.
The British Muslim Forum (BMF) condemns this senseless violence and terror, ongoing persecution and abuses of human rights of the Rohingya Muslim community by the Myanmar government. The BMF calls on the whole international community, the United Nations (UN) with its 193 Member States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with its 57 Member States, and human rights organisations to take effective steps in putting a stop to the ethnic cleansing, genocide and crimes against humanity being committed against the Rohingya.
Although the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has called for the violence to end, saying the treatment of the Rohingya was ‘besmirching the reputation of Burma’, and appealing for action from Aung San Suu Kyi, the former dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize and is now the country’s State Counsellor. Nonetheless, the BMF calls on the British Government to do a lot more and lead the international community in exerting maximum pressure to stop the current violence, and to safeguard and protect the Rohingya Muslim community from heinous abuses of their basic human rights and dignity. The BMF calls for the systematic human rights violations to be stopped immediately.
BMF spokesperson, Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, said: “The ongoing persecution and dehumanisation of the Rohingya community in Myanmar is despicable beyond words. The worsening cycle of deadliest violence must be broken urgently. The blocking of access to the region for journalists and international humanitarian aid agencies is utterly shameful.”
“The UN and the wider international community need to apply sustained pressure on the Myanmar government to stop the inhumane treatment of the Rohingya community and pass legislation that recognises the Rohingya as legal citizens of the Myanmer state.”
“The role of the Muslim community is crucial as well. There needs to be a coalition of political powers and financial support from Muslim countries that seeks to achieve political stability and legal status for Rohingya Muslims and improves the huge economic disparity faced by the Rohingya community.”