Myanmar Must Stop Escalation of Violence Against Rohingya: Activist

Singapore (Antara News) – The Myanmar government must stop the escalation of violence against the Rohingya minority because it is dangerous and could develop into genocide, Rafendi Djamin, a noted Indonesian human rights activist, said.

“The human rights situation in Myanmar is regressing because the government and politicians let the escalation of violence continue against the Rohingya people,” Djamin, Indonesias representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), said on the sidelines of a workshop entitled Reporting on Regional Integration and ASEAN, here on Saturday.

Myanmar will be ASEAN Chair 2014 and automatically become chairman of the AICHR next year, he said, adding that this would be an appropriate opportunity for Myanmar to prove that it deserves the chairmanship of the human rights commission of ASEAN.

The Myanmar government must ban the hatred demonstrated by radical Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims, since it has escalated into violence and could lead to genocide, he said.

Laws must be enforced, those promoting hatred and who commit violence must be punished, Djamin added.

“It is the responsibility of the Myanmar government to implement early warning systems in order to prevent genocide,” he said.

Djamin also urged Indonesia to play a leading role in solving the problem of Myanmars Rohingya minority by enforcing the Jakarta Declaration and Bali Process.

The humanitarian situation, including the stateless status of the Rohingya, must be addressed, and their basic human rights must be protected. They must be able to have their medical needs met and have opportunities to work, he stated.

Indonesia, as co-chair of the Bali Process, along with Australia, has the capability to help solve the Rohingya problem, Djamin said.

Besides, being the most democratic nation and most economically advanced country, Indonesia has the responsibility to promote the protection of human rights in ASEAN, he said.

Recently, in September and October, seven people were killed and scores of houses were burned to the ground when Buddhist mobs attacked ethnic Rohinyga Muslim villages in Thandwe Township, Arakan State, The Irrawaddy daily reported.

Myanmar rejected a United Nations committee request to grant the Muslim minority group citizenship rights, saying the country does not recognize the existence of “a Rohingya minority.”

The UN General Assemblys human rights committee, on Nov. 19, unanimously passed a resolution calling for Burma to grant citizenship to the Muslim minority Rohingyas and also called on the Buddhist nation to contain violence against the Rohingyas and other Muslims.

The resolution passed the committee by consensus. The body will consider it this year under General Assembly rules.

Some 140,000 Muslim Rohingyas have been driven from their homes in the coastal Arakan state region following Buddhist-Muslim clashes over the past year, and more than 200 have been killed. The violence has spread to Muslim communities elsewhere in Myanmar.