International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief

IPPFoRB Steering Group condemns appalling violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

STATEMENT
11 September, 2017

Ottawa, Canada – As the IPPFoRB Steering Group – comprised of parliamentarians from Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Norway – we unequivocally condemn the appalling violence faced by civilian populations, including the Rohingya Muslim minority, in Myanmar’s (Burma) Rakhine State.

We call on all parties responsible for the recent violence to cease and desist. The military leadership must reverse course and begin to contribute to the restoration of stability and peace in the region. Their present actions are only encouraging a deepened inter-ethnic divide affecting vulnerable civilian populations. The government has an obligation to protect its citizens.

Reports indicate that recent violence has forced close to 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. This violence is but the latest instance in a prolonged effort by the military leadership of Myanmar to subjugate, intimidate and suppress the Muslim minority. Historically, Rohingya citizenship rights, access to basic services, and freedom of movement have been restricted by the government. Ethnic violence has intensified in recent years, increasing levels of ghettoization and displacement.

We call on Myanmar’s leadership to do better. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi must demonstrate the courage she has shown in the past and propose a solution that includes the reinstatement of citizenship for the Rohingya population, and their full involvement in Myanmar’s society.

The government of Myanmar must abandon its campaign of intimidation and seek a prompt end to the violence. After years of persecution, we encourage Myanmar’s leadership to embark on a path of reconciliation with its religious and ethnic minorities. We remind Myanmar of its obligations under a number of international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We also urge international and regional organizations, including the United Nations, to live up to their obligations and hold the financiers of hate, intimidation and violence to account for their actions. It is our firm belief that only a concerted and coordinated effort by international, regional and domestic stakeholders will lead to a cessation of the violence, division and disdain for religious liberty presently afflicting Myanmar.

– 30 –