Göttingen, 11. Juni 2012
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accused Burma's government of stirring up the violence between Muslims and Buddhists by systematically marginalizing the Muslim Rohingya. "If the Muslims are deliberately denied their civil rights, this leads to further tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority in the multiethnic state," said the STP's Asia-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Monday. The human rights organization sharply criticized the imposition of a state of emergency over the state of Arakan (officially Rakhine). "By sending out more police officers and soldiers, the authorities ignore the real reasons for the violence and just try to intimidate. If Arakan is to come to peace, the Muslim Rohingya people must finally be granted their civil rights."
The state of emergency is in effect in Arakan since Sunday. After a Buddhist girl came to an unresolved violent death on May 29, 2012, there have been repeated clashes between Muslims, Buddhists and the security forces. On Wednesday of last week, ten Muslims were killed by Buddhists because they were falsely accused of having murdered the girl. At least nine people died last Friday, when Rohingya houses were attacked by Buddhists as a revenge for the Muslims who had been killed before. The tensions got worse after more security forces were deployed and even joined forces with armed Buddhists, fighting the Muslims and burning down their houses.
The approximately three million Muslim Rohingya are considered to be the most disadvantaged group in multi-ethnic Burma with its Buddhist majority. The authorities are systematically cutting down their civil rights. They are not allowed to leave their villages or to get married – and they do not get birth certificates issued, because the authorities treat them as Bengali migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The open discrimination is followed by an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to neighboring countries. But even there they are denied their basic rights, so that most of the refugees live underground to avoid being deported to their homeland Burma.
"Despite all the international praise for the democratization-process in Burma, the situation of the Rohingya has not improved since President Thein Sein took over power from the military dictatorship in April 2011," said Delius. Burmas government still persistently refuses to grant the Rohingya their basic human rights.
Ulrich Delius can be reached under +49 (0)160 – 95 67 14 03
Translated by Robert Kurth