Target: Burmese President Thein Sein
Goal: Protect and aid the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma’s Arakan State
Recent satellite imagery reveals massive destruction done to Rohingya Muslim communities in Burma’s western Arakan State. The eastern coastal town of Kyauk Pyu—where homes and other property have been destroyed—is just one of the latest areas to fall victim to Burma’s ongoing sectarian violence. The Rohingya Muslim people have faced a history of discrimination and hostility from ethnic Rakhine people and Burmese authorities alike who view the Rohingya as illegal immigrants. Call upon Burmese President Thein Sein to protect this marginalized population and ensure that necessary humanitarian aid reaches their communities.
Recently there was a renewal in the violence between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, affecting five different townships, most of which had seen little to no violence in the past. The Burmese government has reported that 64 people have been killed and 2,800 houses have been burned to the ground. Suspicions abound that the government may be underreporting the damage, as it has done so in the past to avoid local and international criticism of the state.
And this follows in the wake of the state’s other recent travesties, where Burmese security forces were documented killing, raping, and arresting Rohingya Muslims en masse after failing to stop escalating sectarian violence.
The Rohingya population faces more than violence. There are nearly 75,000 internally displaced persons in Burma, most of whom are Rohingya living in over 40 camps. The government continues to impose strict restrictions against humanitarian aid, denying these marginalized people access to food, water, shelter, and medicine.
Citizenship—and the protection it provides—has been forbidden for most Rohingya, and President Thein Sein has called for continued segregation and at times even expulsion of the Rohingya from Burma. Living in squalid camps and left unprotected, the Rohingya are often easy targets for would-be aggressors.
Call upon President Thein Sein to make a concerted effort protect this marginalized population immediately.
Dear President Thein Sein,
The recent violence that has erupted in the Arakan State against the Rohingya Muslim population is just another example of the ongoing sectarian conflict in your country. With more than 64 people dead and 2,800 houses razed, the violence has spread to townships previously left untouched. And with the travesties that took place in June—rape, killings, and mass arrests—at the hands of security forces, it seems as though the Rohingya have no place to look for safety.
It is the responsibility of a government to protect its people. Furthermore, the Burmese state must allow humanitarian organizations access to Rohingya communities. Many of these people are living in squalid camps, are internally displaced, and without food, water, and medicine. If your government can’t protect them, you must at the very least allow outside organizations to provide what aid they can.
The ongoing sectarian violence in Burma is a growing humanitarian disaster. You must act now to prevent further catastrophes.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection via Flickr