Media release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
Thursday 18th February 2016
Four Steps the NLD Led Government Can Take On Rohingya Crisis
The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK today publishes a new briefing paper calling on the NLD-led government, which will take power in April, to take four practical steps to start addressing human rights violations against the Rohingya. The briefing paper is available on our below website link.http://www.brouk.org.uk/Practical steps the NLD-led government can take in its first six months to address human rights violations against the Rohingya
Addressing the root causes of prejudice and human rights violations against the Rohingya will take many years, but in order to start this process, and to have an immediate impact saving lives and reducing human rights violations, here are practical steps an NLD government can take in its first six months:
- Action against hate-speech and extremists - Take action to prevent hate speech and incitement of violence, and demonstrate moral leadership, with Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders personally and specifically speaking out against prejudice and hatred, and challenging the extreme nationalist narrative.
- Ensure humanitarian access - Immediately lift all restrictions on the operations of international aid agencies and also start to devote more government resources to assisting IDPs and isolated villagers.
- Reform or repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law - The lack of full citizenship lies at the root of most of the discrimination faced by the Rohingya. There is no way this issue can be avoided, and it is much better that an NLD-led government bite the bullet and deal with it at the start of their period in government when they have a new and strong mandate, strong party unity, and elections are years away. It will have to be addressed at some point. Better it is done while the NLD-led government is strongest.
- Justice and accountability - An NLD-led government should set up a credible independent investigation with international experts to investigate these crimes and propose action. If the NLD government fails to do so, the United Nations should establish its own Commission of Inquiry.
The briefing paper also analyses the NLD and Military approach to the Rohingya issues, and what the election results reveal about anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim prejudice in the country.
These results appear to reinforce something that BROUK has long believed, which is that while prejudice against Muslims is widespread, it is not necessarily that deep. Prejudice against Rohingya is greater than Muslims in general, but is not the top concern of many Rakhine. The prejudice that exists is widespread, but for many periods has been below the surface. It usually comes to the surface when prejudice and hatred is stirred up by political and religious extremists. It is a top down process, not a grassroots bottom up expression of repressed tensions, as many have tried to argue.
For decades successive regimes and governments in Burma have pursued a twin-track policy of impoverishment and human rights violations in order to attempt to drive Rohingya out of the country. Under the government of President Thein Sein human rights violations against the Rohingya sharply escalated, as he attempted to use Buddhist nationalism and anti-Muslim prejudice in the country to win public support.
The incoming NLD government presents the first opportunity in decades to not only halt the escalation of anti-Rohingya policies and laws, but also put it into reverse, ending violations of international law and applying the rule of law and international human rights standards.
"At the election people voted for hope, not hate," said Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. "This Rohingya issue is not as intractable as many diplomats and observers try to argue. If there is strong moral leadership and action countering hate speech and incitement, it will be possible to take practical steps to start to end human rights violations against the Rohingya. There is a unique opportunity to make real progress but if those arguing for a soft and slow approach win the debate, the opportunity will be lost and the crisis and suffering will continue for many more years."
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