VIEW : Rohingya Muslims: children of a lesser god? — Mohammad Ahmad


The HRW report accused the Burmese government of engaging “in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement”

Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire, administering it as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony. Burma was granted independence in 1948.

Post-independence, Burma took measures to strengthen the economic interests of the Buddhist Burmese against those that it saw as foreigners. These measures were intelligently masked to portray generality but most specifically hurt the Rohingya who constituted the biggest section in the Muslim population of independent Burma. Among the several Acts passed by the Burmese government in 1948, the Land Alienation Act forbade the sale of land to non-Burmese nationals while denying citizenship to anyone who could not prove his ancestors settled in the country before 1823. As a result, Muslims in its Arakan province, whose ancestors were in Burma and contributed to its economic activity even a century ago, were denied their right to own land and, therefore, any benefit accruing out of such ownership. Continue reading

Burmese sleepwalking into “ethnic cleansing”


Full Comment’s Araminta Wordsworth brings you a daily round-up of quality punditry from across the globe.  Today: A genocide could be brewing in Burma where monks are firing up the majority Buddhist populace to attack Muslims.Britain Myanmar Protest

As happened in Rwanda almost two decades ago, the West is looking the other way while the inter-religious (and ethnic) assaults and killings mount

Rohingya Muslims make up about 5% of Burma’s population, but as the majority Buddhists tell it, they represent a growing threat to the country’s well-being just by being there.

They are also outsiders ethnically. Many are the descendants of people from the Indian subcontinent who moved to Burma during the days of the British raj. Others are dispossessed peasants from Bangladesh who have eked out a living on the fringes of society. Most are stateless. Continue reading

Benedict Rogers: What Cameron and Hague should tell Burma’s President tomorrow


Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist, a former Parliamentary Candidate, and is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.

Tomorrow, Burma’s President Thein Sein will arrive in London. Until a year ago, the idea of a Burmese General with blood on his hands making an official visit to the United Kingdom would have been inconceivable. His visit is a sign of how much and how fast not only Burma, but British Government attitudes towards Burma’s regime, have changed.Benragers

In the past two years, President Thein Sein’s Government has certainly introduced reforms that have changed the atmosphere and landscape significantly. A key turning-point came when he met Burma’s democracy leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw for the first time in 2011. That paved the way for a series of reforms, including the release of many political prisoners; increased space for political activists, civil society and the media; improvements in freedom of expression; and preliminary ceasefires with most of the ethnic armed resistance groups. In 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi and 42 of her colleagues from the National League for Democracy (NLD) were elected to Parliament. As Lord Alton and I wrote following our visit to Burma in March, we should be quick to welcome and encourage these changes. Continue reading

Why Burma could become another Rwanda


Burma is ethnically cleansing the Rohingya people. When David Cameron meets the Burmese president tomorrow he must call for it to stop.

After the genocide that tore apart a nation and killed 800,000 in Rwanda, the world said never again. But nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves on the brink of another campaign of destruction against an entire people. Yet once again it is being greeted with silence.

A man collects clean water from a pump in a UK...

A man collects clean water from a pump in a UK-supported camp for displaced Rohingya people, near Sittwe, Rakhine Province, Burma, 19 June 2013 (Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development)

In Burma, ethnic cleansing is happening. We have seen more human rights violations and attacks on Rohingya minorities in the past two years than in the last 20. Organised in monasteries and on Facebook, a wave of hate is being broadcast against the Muslim Rohingya community in Burma and a new apartheid system is being introduced.

My family regularly get called “dogs” or worse when they walk down the street. The government continues to deny us citizenship, telling us this isn’t our home. We can’t marry the people we love and are told we’re only allowed to have two children per family. We can’t travel from one village to another without permission. No other minority in the world faces such extreme and vicious treatment. We are being treated as criminals simply because we exist.

But now the situation is getting really desperate. Mobs have attacked our villages, driving us from our homes, children have been hacked to death, and hundreds of my people have been killed by members of the majority. Thugs are distributing leaflets threatening to “wipe us out” and children in schools are being taught that the Rohingya are different.

Everyone from our community is affected. I was lucky enough to flee 10 years ago when it was simply discrimination, but last year the rising violence forced my brother to flee to Bangladesh. Many people I know have faced appalling abuse and torture in a country they used to call home.

If this sounds all too familiar, that is because it is. This is the same type of racist incitement used to such devastating effect in Rwanda against the Tutsis in 1994. All signs are pointing to a coming horror. Yet the government has not just failed to stop these brutal attacks but is participating in it by inciting violence and fuelling hate. Continue reading

Thein Sein visiting the UK


At the end of this week President Thein Sein of Burma will be visiting the UK. He’ll be given red-carpet treatment by the British government, which has hailed him as a reformer.

However, when Thein Sein boards his plane to the UK, he’ll be leaving behind a country which still has one of the worst human rights records in the world. He’ll leave behind hundreds of political prisoners still in jail, where torture is still being used. He’ll be leaving behind his army which continues to kill, to bomb and to rape ethnic civilians. He’ll leave behind camps where ethnic children die because he won’t allow them to get aid. Continue reading