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AIPMC Welcomes UNGA Resolution on Burma, Calls for Urgent Action to Protect Human Rights and Deliver Humanitarian Assistance to IDPs

By ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus  •  November 28, 2012

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) today welcomed the United Nations General Assembly resolution on human rights in Myanmar as well as the Myanmar mission’s acceptance of that resolution, backing calls for urgent action to be taken to ensure humanitarian aid and protection for tens of thousands of forcibly displaced peoples in the country.

“Considering the reforms that have been initiated over the past 18 months, it is only right that the resolution gives recognition to these achievements, including increasing space for political activities, easing restrictions on political assembly and the media, and the release of many political prisoners,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, AIPMC President and Indonesian MP.

“AIPMC also wishes to commend the Myanmar mission on adopting this non-binding resolution with consensus and hopes the government will follow through with the recommendations therein to urgently improve the human rights situation in their country.”

AIPMC welcomed the UN resolution’s statement of “expressing particular concern about the situation of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state” where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. Tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims are suffering under continued persecution and remain too fearful of further attacks to return to their villages, many of which have been burned to the ground by Rakhine mobs. Those who do remain are too afraid to leave their enclaves.

Among the urgent actions required under this resolution, is the General Assembly’s calls for the Myanmar government “to take action to bring about an improvement in their [Rohingya] situation and to protect all their human rights, including their right to a nationality.”

“The UN’s Rakhine Response Plan, which was revised this month, is facing a shortfall of over $40 million, there is an urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to Rakhine State. There is a very real threat that children will soon start dying in large numbers from disease and malnutrition,” said Ms Sundari.

“Under this resolution, which it accepted, the Myanmar government should support foreign missions and non-governmental organizations, including doctors and relief teams, and grant them visas and permission to provide assistance to these people. We have heard that some doctors and aid workers have been denied approval to operate in Rakhine State, which is deeply concerning given the urgency of the situation. But more than this, steps must also be taken to ensure that, as soon as possible, these people can return to their lives – they cannot live on charity, and in fear, in refugee camps forever,” she added.

According to UNOCHA, there are more than 400,000 IDPs in Myanmar: some 115,000, chased from their homes in Rakhine State on ethnic grounds since inter-communal violence broke out in June, as well as over 235,000 displaced by conflict in Karen state and more than 75,000 displaced by the ongoing war between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army in the country’s far north.

AIPMC remains deeply concerned by the Myanmar government’s refusal to recognize the Rohingya as a legitimate ethnic group. A representative of Myanmar’s mission to the UN said, in his country’s response to the resolution, which it accepted, that “there has been no such ethnic group as Rohingya among the ethnic groups of Myanmar … Despite this fact, the right to citizenship for any member or community has been and will never be denied if they are in line with the law of the land.”

“The government’s denial of the very legitimacy of the Rohingya ethnic group constitutes a major barrier to finding a long-term solution to the inter-communal problems in Rakhine State and betrays an inherent ethno-nationalist superiority complex of the predominantly Buddhist-Burman government of Myanmar,” said AIPMC Vice President Kraisak Choonhavan.

“The immediate concern is rightly the need to get urgent humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the recent violence, but the greater fear is that if the government, ethno-nationalist political parties as well as elements in the Buddhist clergy continue to label these people as “Bengali” interlopers with no rights, then this violence could spread so much further, putting the safety, dignity and lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk.”

For further information and interview requests please contact Ismail Wolff on +62 81514006416, or by email at info@aseanmp.org.

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