The situation in the northern part of Rakhine, a state in Myanmar where most of the Rohingya people – an ethnic and religious minority – reside, escalated on August 25th: The extremist group “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” (ARSA) attacked about thirty government checkpoints and police stations. The military of Myanmar, backed by broad popular support of Myanmar’s citizens, and not opposed by the civilian government, has mounted an unprecedented punitive operation. Reliable information about the situation of the conflict area in Myanmar is scarce. As of now, international journalists have had no access to Rakhine State.
About 500 Rohingyas were killed and some 390,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since the last outbreak of violence according to current UN figures. And their numbers are rising. The situation in Bangladesh for the Rohingya refugees is dramatic. Thousands are living in emergency tents, makeshift camps or in the open. Without international support, a humanitarian catastrophe will ensue. Also, other countries in the region like India, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are concerned.
The Rohingya people in Myanmar are living in dire conditions and are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The conflict between the group and the Myanmar government has religious and ethnic roots. One of the core problems of social discrimination faced by the Rohingyas is the denial of citizenship as identified by the international “Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State” led by Kofi Annan, on the one hand. On the other, Myanmar’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy is far from over. The military elites are still the strongest political force.
The Progressive Alliance calls for
- Immediate cessation of any military activities in Northern Rakhine;
- Immediate readmission of UN Agencies and international NGOs into the crisis area;
- Immediate additional funding to first responders and humanitarian workers in Bangladesh;
- Access of the UNHCR fact finding mission to Rakhine;
- Continued dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar and setting up of a Joint Border Management;
- Admission of international press to cover the situation in Northern Rakhine;
- International Conference on the proposals of the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State;
- International Conference on Regional Implications of the Kofi Annan report by receiving countries especially Bangladesh, but also India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia.