Burma Campaign UK today called on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to ask for a meeting on rising tensions in Rakhine State, Burma at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Britain leads on Burma at the UNSC.
Anti Rohingya tensions are on the rise in Rakhine State, and there are fears there could be a new large-scale outbreak of violence against the Rohingya.
For months now there have been unsolved murders of both ethnic Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine. The government is blaming Rohingya ‘insurgents’.
Government social media and state run newspapers have been full of stories about insurgents killing people and alleged terrorist camps being discovered. They have published pictures showing UN aid biscuits were found in one of these alleged camps, knowingly fuelling unfounded rumours that the UN is helping alleged terrorists. Now the UN has had to warn its staff of possible violence against them.
As well as the government whipping up fears and tensions, local politicians and nationalists are doing the same. The military is sending more soldiers to Rakhine State.
Unless action is taken to diffuse tensions, another large scale outbreak of violence is possible.
When a group now calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked and killed police officers last year, the Burmese Army responded with a brutal clearance operations targeting Rohingya civilians. Tens of thousands were driven from their homes and human rights violations were so serious the UN set up an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.
With tensions so high, an actual incident involving ARSA or one blamed on ARSA, could trigger not just another brutal clearance operation by the military, but also attacks by nationalists against Rohingya communities and international aid workers.
“For the situation in Rakhine State to be discussed by the highest body in the world puts the government and military on notice that their actions are being watched,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We cannot stand by and risk another brutal onslaught against the Rohingya population as happened twice in 2012 and in 2016. Everything that can be tried must be tried to avoid a new wave of large-scale violence against Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine State.”
Even if countries such as Russia and China block a statement by the UN Security Council, which is likely, the British Ambassador and others will also have the opportunity to make statements outside the meeting.