July 20, 2012
“The United Nations must take urgent measures to preserve the spirit of the [UN] Charter and protect the fundamental rights of the Muslim people in Myanmar by calling upon the Government in Myanmar to put an end to the crackdown against Muslims,” said Mohammad Khazaie in a formal letter to Ban on Friday.
“Recent crackdown by Myanmar security forces against Muslim minority in Rohingya province has resulted in human losses and suffering of hundreds of innocent civilians, destruction of mosques and homes and eviction of people from their homeland, which constitutes violations of their fundamental rights,” said the letter, a copy of which has also been forwarded to UN’s High Commissionaire for Human Rights Navi Pillay as well as Director of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs Valeri Amos.
“We believe that ethnic and religious cleansing against Muslims under whatever pretext is unjustifiable and inexcusable under recognized international law,” the letter said.
It has further described as highly “disturbing” remarks by Myanmar authorities suggesting attempts to strip the nation’s Muslim minority of their citizenship rights despite “the fact that Muslim people in Rohingya have been living there for centuries.”
Khazaie’s letter also calls on Secretary General Ban to “interfere expeditiously and outspokenly, as you did with other similar situations and to take every appropriate measure in order to halt the current situation and to prevent further similar tragedy to happen against Muslim people of Myanmar.”
Moreover, the document cautioned that inaction by the international community toward the ongoing human rights violations by the Myanmar Government “would contribute to the grave violations of fundamental rights of Muslim inhabitants as well as the international law and make an appalling precedent in international relations.”
The letter finally called on the Myanmar Government to address the concerns of its Muslim citizens and the international community “in a positive and constructive manner” and allow Rohingya Muslims to “return to their homeland in honor, safety and dignity.”
As the result of violence perpetrated against Rohingya Muslims by radical Buddhists and police forces in Myanmar, over 650 Muslims have so far been killed in the country and another 1,200 reported missing.
Last Friday, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein declared that Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies as illegal migrants, although Rohingyas are believed to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin that migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
Even Myanmar’s Western-sponsored democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has kept silent on atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslims.
Ironically, only days after she received a peace prize, Suu Kyi told reporters she did not know if Rohingyas were Myanmarese.
The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.
Featured image: Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape violence, are sent back on their boats by Bangladeshi security officials in Teknaf on June 18, 2012.