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Burmese govt must protect victims of violence, bring peace to Rakhine state

We call on all parties to find a meaningful solution to the problems in the Rakhine State of Myanmar so that there is everlasting peace. Given the way things have unfolded in the Rakhine State over the last few years, especially the recent episodes of violence which has left hundreds of people displaced, their houses burnt, it certainly does not augur well for the future of a Myanmar that is gradually transitioning towards democracy.

While we condemn all forms of violence perpetrated by any side, we are particularly concerned at how the military has misused its powers to commit human rights abuses and atrocities against the Rohingya community. The large scale displacement of people, especially women and children whose houses have been razed to the ground owing to arson and violent attacks and the resulting humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed on a war footing and the NLD led government respond by protecting the lives of ordinary citizens.

In order to bring about lasting peace to the Rakhine State and in order for the communities to coexist in a peaceful manner we strongly urge the government to initiate a peace talk led by a third party. Further the areas that have been impacted by the violence should be opened to international aid providing the much needed access to humanitarian service providers to bring food and medicines to the people who have been left homeless and hungry by the conflict.

We believe that while the Rohingyas have faced the brunt of the violence, there are other communities such as the small Hindu families and also some Buddhist families must be given full state protection and those guilty of perpetrating the violence must be booked and tried as per the law. If there is any truth on the reports of Islamic militancy taking roots in the Rakhine State it must be investigated by the Government and ordinary citizens not forced to become victims of circumstances sandwiched between the State and Non-State armed forces.

We also encourage Aung San Suu Kyi to take lead in changing public perception about her government and the overall state of democracy and peace in Myanmar. The dialogue with the government of Bangladesh must be accorded topmost priority by her government so as to ensure that all the refugees that are lodged in camps along the banks of the Naf river are given their rights to return back to their homes in Rakhine and are given full protection by both the governments.

The Myanmar Government should also allow proper access to UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee to places of violence and human rights in Rakhine so that a full and transparent account of the ground situation is possible. At the same time we would also like to urge the UN Special Rapporteur to be very sensitive in her approach the vexed issue of conflict in Rakhine and make a comprehensive assessment of the overall situation.




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