Jul 25

Burma Muslim minorities suffer persecution: Amnesty

Amnesty International says that the situation of ethnic minorities in Burma is grave and violence against the Rohingya community in the western state of Rakhine is on the rise.Burma Muslim killings

However, Burmese Government denies any violations by security forces against the community.

Benjamin Zawacki, Burma researcher for Amnesty, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia that Amnesty International has been monitoring the situation for a while now.

“Well we’ve had eyes and ears on the grounds for some time,” he said.

“This has been true since 2005 when we produced a lengthy report on systemic discrimination and persecution suffered by the Rohingya.”

“What we’ve seen since then and largely because of the soldiers, as opposed to despite their presence, is that violations against the Muslim population generally, and the Rohingya population specifically, have been on the rise.”

He said that since Rohingya’s are not considered citizens of Burma, the country’s security forces arrest their members frequently and treated them badly.

“Well, the Burmese Government is doing very little, as you may be aware about 10 days ago President Thein Sein suggested that the only solution was to place these people in refugee camps,” said Zawacki. “And or to resettle them to a third country somewhere else.

“What needs to happen is that the citizenship law of 1962 needs to be significantly amended or repealed such that Rohingyas are deemed to be citizens of the country.

“In their eyes the Rohingyas living in the country are simply not Burmese, that is the crux of the problem, they are deemed to be non-citizens.”

He also says that there is room for the US to apply pressure as it deepens its engagement with Burma.

“Clearly the United States, in renewing its links to the country should very much raise the political temperature here and say look you have a population that you have systemically persecuted and discriminated against.”

“That needs to stop.”

He said that one of the challenges of getting attention for the plight of the Rohingyas is that it runs counter to the current narrative of Burma which is very positive and optimistic.

“These reforms seem to be for the political and economic centres but not for the ethnic minorities.”