Urgent Action To Stop Sectarian Violence Against Muslims In Myanmar Should Be Taken Now
On behalf of KontraS (The Commission for The Disappeared and The Victims of Violence) — a Non Governmental Organization based and works in Indonesia, we write this letter expressing our deplored of the occurrence of sectarian violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar.
Around twelve o’clock at midday on 29th September, a motorcycle owned by one Buddhist youth Maung Naing Oo was placed in front of a shop owned by the Chairman of Kaman Muslim party in Thandwe. The Buddhist youths started to argue harshly when the shopkeeper requested them to remove and place the vehicle some ahead from the shop since the vehicle closed the entrance of the shop. On the double, the Buddhist youth diffused the entire town that the Kaman Muslim Party Chairman insulted Buddhism. The main reason of diffusion of such aggressive news is because the extremists of RNDP and the 969 Campaign have been seeking chances to attack the Kaman Muslims since long time. While about 200 extremists are attempting to assault surrounded the house of U Kyaw Zan Hla, the police came and the mob was segregated and arrested him. Amid the investigation in custody, more than 80 extremists surrounded the custody and demanded the police to hand over U Kyaw Zan Hla to them. U Kyaw Zan Hla was bailed after thorough investigation in custody. When the extremist came to know about the release of U Kyaw Zan Hla, 20 disguised Karate-Experts are sent to enclose the police camp. Then, the police and the disguised Karate-Experts discussed mutually. Later, the extremists mobbed in Ngha Kyaw Daung quarter and a house owned by Kaman Muslim was burnt down to ashes.
It is miserable that no security forces made any obstruction against the assault while it is the duty of security forces to defend the rights of everyone – without exception or discrimination – from abuses by others, while abiding by human rights standards themselves. Then, the mob wishfully vandalized some Kaman houses throwing stones. At night, one Muslim oil shop was set on fire and vandalized more Kaman Muslim houses in Bodegung quarter as well. The armed forces are deployed in Thandwe and Muslims are only prevented from coming out of houses at streets. The security forces did not prevent nor arrest the 969 Campaign leader Tun Than Kyaw who is moving by car to and fro in the town. More extremists gather in monasteries that are coming up from rural sides and getting preparation to further assault Muslims.
Sectarian clashes that began in Rakhine in June 2012 have since morphed into an anti-Muslim campaign that has spread to towns and villages nationwide. So far, hundreds of people have been killed and more than 140,000 have fled their homes, the vast majority of them Muslims. Most of those targeted in Rakhine state have been ethnic Rohingya Muslims, considered by many in the country to be illegal migrants from Bangladesh, though many of their families arrived generations ago. But in the latest flare-up this week, the victims were Kamans, another Muslim minority group, whose citizenship is recognized. Muslims, who account for about 4 percent of Myanmar's roughly 60 million people, have been the main victims of the violence, but they have been prosecuted for crimes related to the clashes far more often than members of the Buddhist majority.
Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless, for too long Myanmar’s human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them. While the restoration of order, security, and the protection of human rights is necessary, most arrests appear to have been arbitrary and discriminatory, violating the rights to liberty and to freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion. It is the wide range of human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya and wider Muslim population in Rakhine State including “sweeps” or “ethnic cleansing” against Muslim villages, arbitrary detentions, sexual assault, rape, torture, destruction of property, and unlawful killings – carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces. We should stop these acts and prevent others from occurring so that is why we encourage and call on the authorities of Myanmar, AICHR and OIC to:
- Urge the religious leaders in Myanmar to quickly stop the "ethnic cleansing" campaign that has been ongoing since October 2012 and urging the peaceful coexistence through promoting calm and live together peacefully to the citizens
- along with the Rakhine Investigation Commission urge the establishment of a Truth-Finding Committee, and stressed the need to ensure that those who break the law are “prosecuted”
- Urge the granting of the Rohingya equal access to citizenship is in itself a form of discrimination which should be urgently addressed
- Offer the support to the Government to address the impunity which is enabling widespread and systematic human rights violations to continue against the most vulnerable of all ethnic minority groups in Myanmar
- Urge the Rakhine Investigation Commission to involves the Rohingya Community in the commission in order to make their voice be heard and prove to the country that the equal environment should be begin as soon as possible to ensure the safety-living for everyone as mandated in Universal Declaration of Human Rights
We end our letter now with the respectfully thank for your consideration and express our sincere hope that your Excellency will take this letter into account.
Jakarta, 11 October 2013
Executive Committee of KontraS