Shabana Mahmood MP has put her name to a letter from Rushanara Ali MP to the Foreign Secretary, the Rt. Hon Boris Johnson MP, calling on the UK Government to intensify its pressure on the Burmese government to allow full humanitarian access to the Rohingya, who have recently been displaced need urgent protection.
The United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all reported that thousands of Rohingya Muslims in the North Rakhine State of Burma have been indiscriminately targeted in a recent increase of human rights abuses. The letter has been co-signed by all three co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Burma.
The text of the letter is below:
Rt. Hon Boris Johnson MP,
Foreign Commonwealth Office,
Kings Charles Street,
30th November 2016,
RE: Violence against Rohingya Muslims in Burma
We are writing to you to highlight our grave concerns over reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that thousands of Rohingya Muslims in the North Rakhine State have been indiscriminately targeted in a recent increase of human rights abuses in Burma.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) claimed that tens of thousands of people have fled their homes following a security operation in response to the killing of nine members of the border police at three different border posts on 9th October. The UNHCR have reported that serious human rights violations have subsequently taken place. These include cases of tortures, rape and sexual assault, summary executions, and the destructions of mosques and homes.
In addition, Amnesty International have also reported that they have received “a litany of human rights violations” carried out by the Myanmar army in North Rakhine State during recent security operations. These include reports that security forces led by the military have fired at villagers from helicopter gunships, torching hundreds of homes, carrying out arbitrary arrests, and raping women and girls.
On 13th November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) also released high-definition satellite imagery which it claims show the razing of villages populated by the Rohingya. According to the images, 430 buildings in three different villages were destroyed towards the end of October and beginning of November.
We condemn any reprisal attacks that have followed the recent incidents of violence on the Burmese border and call for an immediate end to the targeted use of violence of an already persecuted religious minority. There currently exists an urgent need to prevent further violations of the Rohingya’s human rights. With the UN estimating that 30,000 people are already displaced, many of the Rohingya are crossing the border into Bangladesh to join the thousands Rohingya refugees already seeking asylum.
Together with the international community, the UK Government must intensify its pressure on the Burmese government to allow full humanitarian access to the Rohingya. The Rohingya who have recently been displaced need urgent protection. We call on the Government to do all in its power to help those fleeing the violence to find a safe passage home.
Rushanara Ali MP, Paul Scully MP and Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
Co-Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Burma
Alok Sharma MP, Minister for Asia and the Pacific in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has now replied to the letter Shabana Mahmood MP signed along with Rushanara Ali MP and other MPs.
Their letter called on the UK Government to intensify its pressure on the Burmese government to allow full humanitarian access to the Rohingya and do all in its power to help those fleeing the violence to find a safe passage home.
Mr. Sharma replied that the ‘UK Government remains concerned by the situation in Rakhine and the persecution of the Muslim minority Rohingya community’ and described some recent actions that the UK Government took such as the UK Ambassador lobbying Cabinet-level Burmese Ministers. He also has written that the Government of Burma has now committed to investigating allegations of human rights abuses carried out during the military operations in the wake of the initial attack on 9 October and restoring humanitarian access to Northern Rakhine State. You can see his full response attached to this page.
As you will note however, the Minister did not go as far as calling for a UN-led inquiry into the human rights abuses.
Shabana Mahmood commenting said,
‘I appreciate that the Government has taken meaningful action in pressing the Burmese Government to investigate human rights abuses in the country.
However, recent investigations by the UN have uncovered rape and killing of minors, which may well be found to be crimes against humanity.
In light of this, I feel that the Government have not nearly gone far enough and should now actively and energetically call for a full scale UN-led investigation into these human rights violations, which could find those responsible and provide effective recommendations to prevent further atrocities’.