Target: President Thein Sein
Goal: Stop violence against census takers and Muslims in Burma
The government of Burma must postpone a recent nationwide census in order to prevent violence against workers from international organizations. At greatest risk are aid workers and members of Muslim communities. Burma has a terrible history of persecuting against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, who have been denied citizenship since 1982. This has led to a series of riots and violence against these communities by citizens of Burma. Aid workers are attempting to count and classify these Muslim communities for the first time, and that has caused great uproar in the Arakan region of the country, known as a hotbed for violence against Rohingya. The government must postpone the census in order to prevent further violence.
This month, mobs in the Arakan State began to attack anything related to international aid organizations, including offices, residences and food storage facilities. Organizations quickly pulled their staff from the area. These actions have led armed separatist groups to declare that they will not permit census takers from entering territory they control. The major controversy surrounding the census is due to two questions related to ethnicity and religion. Many Burmese do not want to acknowledge the presence of the Muslim minority and will go to extremes to prevent their existence from being recognized.
Community leaders in the area, led by ultra-nationalist Buddhist U Wirathu, have called for Buddhists to not allow the census to continue. Demonstrations across the country have heightened the threat of violence against members of the Rohingya community. The government must do all it can to prevent further violence against them or members of the aid community. If Burma is to become a part of the international community then it must open its doors to every person that lives within its borders. Sign this petition to demand action be taken to protect census takers and Muslims alike.
Dear President Thein Sein,
Recent violence against international aid organizations undertaking a census in your country is appalling. Especially since the violence is being justified by those who wish to eradicate Muslims from Burma. This is dangerous thinking that will undoubtedly lead to further violence. I ask you to postpone the census until further action can be taken to prevent members of the nationalist movement in Burma from harming others.
I ask that you also do more to protect the rights of ethnic Rohingya Muslims, who have called your country home for decades. International human rights law dictates that you must treat this community in an equal manner. If your country wishes to be taken seriously by the international community then you must do more to bring these ultra-nationalist movements under control. I urge you to protect the rights of all your citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: racoles via Wikipedia Commons