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Open Letter to Burmese Government and Embassy

Genocide of Rohingya

The Ambassador Mr Myint Naung

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma)

Sir

The Media Review Network South Africa, an advocacy group concerned with human rights issues, expresses its disgust and revulsion at both the Burmese government and right wing nationalist Buddhists that seek to further their agenda through violence. The reprehensible treatment, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Rohingya is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Since the revocation of their citizenship in 1982 the Rohingya have become a targeted population for ethnic cleansing simply because they are Muslim. The resurgence of brutality against them in the 2012 Arakan massacres is unacceptable, more especially because the military regime was replaced in 2011 by a democratic government. Apart from the denial of their citizenship the Rohingya may not own land, have no access to education and healthcare, are required to seek government permission to marry and are subject to forced sterilisation. They have been stripped off their most basic human rights and are in effect stateless and because of that easy prey for the various human trafficking syndicates that operate in the region.

The carnage which has been unleashed on this innocent community who seek only to have their basic human rights recognised, in a land which they have called home for centuries is a grotesque act of inhumanity that cannot be justified.

For the last few years the Rohingya have been and continue to face abuse and marginalization by the military junta and Buddhists of Burma. As a result, many Rohingya have fled to neighbouring South-East Asian countries aboard crowded wooden boats navigated by smugglers. The journey by sea has proven dangerous, and at times deadly and treacherous.

The discrimination against the Rohingya is further reinforced by the Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai governments who have remained silent on the apartheid being institutionalised by Burma. Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have participated in push-backs of boats filled with refugees and have all but ignored the refugee crisis. In fact authorities in neighbouring countries have been complicit in the trafficking of Rohingya.

In the past three months more than 25 000 Rohingya have left Burma by sea. This is more than double the number during the same period last year. This past week has proven to be most deadly and lethal to those Rohingya that have fled and remain stranded at sea.

However the real question of humanity lies with the Burmese government and its people. Why are you, a democratic country, allowing this apartheid and genocide to continue?

Adding insult to injury Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a past member of The Elders, Aung San Suu Kyi has chosen to remain silent on the issue. Considering the great movement both inside Burma and abroad for her release, her reaction to the genocide has been appalling.

The Media Review Network as a strong component of South African civil society, echoes the sentiments of all human rights organisations nationally and internationally, and appeal to the Burmese regime and all countries in your region to rethink and realign your position vis a vis the Rohingya Muslims. This appeal is based solely and purely on humanitarian grounds and no other considerations.

Issued By:

Nabila Ismail

Researcher, Media Review Network

Tel (O): 011 837 3220

And

Shabnam Mayet

Protect the Rohingya

Cell: 072 178 6102

Issued Date: 15 May 2015

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The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.
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