Today’s report by the International Development Committee of the UK Parliament shines a light on ongoing ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people in Burma and must lead to the UK government taking concrete action, said the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.
The report calls for a “dramatic change” in the UK’s engagement with Burma, in the light of recent ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people. The Committee also cites violations in other ethnic conflicts and shrinking space for freedom of the media and civil society as evidence of Burma’s deteriorating human rights situation.
“This very welcome report must spur the UK government into action. The report clearly spells out that the ethnic cleansing against Rohingya in Burma means the UK cannot continue engaging with the Burmese government as if nothing has changed,” said Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
“The continued refusal of the UK government and the international community as a whole to take serious action against the Burmese military is sending a dangerous signal that atrocities will be accepted. There is no question that the genocidal policies of the Burmese military are still continuing. The worst of the violence may be over, but our people are still being driven from our homes through forced starvation and systemic discrimination.”
In February, a delegation from the International Development Committee was refused visas to enter Burma at the last minute. Burma has also denied access to other international observers, notable members of the UN Fact-Finding Mission, which was established in 2017 by the Human Rights Council (HRC) to “establish the facts and circumstances” of alleged security force violations
The UK must push for justice
In August 2017, the Myanmar military launched an operation in Rakhine State that was characterised by human rights violations that amounted to crimes against humanity. Thousands of people were killed, hundreds of homes burned down and at least 693,000 people were forced to flee across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh.
So far, the Burmese authorities – both the military and the civilian government headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi – have refused to commit to providing justice and hold those responsible for violations to account. BROUK has urged the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court. Since Burma is not a party to the ICC and has not accepted the court’s jurisdiction, only the Security Council can refer the situation to the Court.
“We urge the UK government to do everything it can to ensure that the UN Security Council refers the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court. There must be justice for the crimes against the Rohingya people to break this cycle of abuse. The Burmese military and civilian government are both unable and unwilling to hold perpetrators to account – the hope for accountability now lies with the international community,” said Tun Khin.