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NLD Must Lift all Aid Restrictions in Arakan State

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK  •  April 19, 2016

Today  a ferry boat with 65 Rohingya passengers including men, women, children and babies, sank at the entrance of ThayChoung river after being hit by big wave while they were traveling from Sin Tat Maw (Sandama) IDP camp in Pauktaw Township to Sittwe Township, Arakan, to buy food. According to BROUK’s reliable source, 15 Rohingya passengers died, about 20 are missing and 20 are alive and 10 are unconscious. Children and a baby are among the dead.

Since increased violence and repression in 2012, Rohingya people have faced a worsening humanitarian situation. Restrictions on travel and lack of security have made growing and buying food much more difficult for Rohingya people. Restrictions on international humanitarian assistance to those in IDP Camps and the rest of Arakan State also make the humanitarian crisis much worse. Since 2012 140,000 internally displaced people have been trapped in camps which UN officials have described as having some of the worst conditions in the world.

These restrictions and lack of security force Rohingya people to make long and sometimes dangerous journeys to find food. More than ten percent of the Rohingya population have fled Burma since 2012.

Previous governments have used a combination of impoverishment and repression to try to force Rohingya people out of Burma. The new National League for Democracy (NLD) led government must now end this policy.

In February Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK published proposals for four steps the new NLD government could take to start to address the Rohingya crisis, including ending restrictions on aid.

“The NLD-led government should immediately lift all restrictions on international humanitarian aid in Arakan State, and ensure security for aid workers,” said Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. “People are dying every day. Tragedies like this ferry sinking have happened too often in the past and will happen again without action.”

BROUK received the following list of people who died on the boat:

1.         Daw Nosima,54yrs (female )
2.         Ma Ro Ma,16yrs(female)
3.         Ma Nilar,21yrs(female)
4.         Daw Nyi Ma Phyu,(female)
5.         Maung Gyi,42yrs(Male)
6.         HasonShorif, Peran Mya 2 yrs(Male)
7.         Sajida, U Nura 6 yrs(Female)
8.         Muhamad Shorif, 4 yrs(Male)
9.         Hussain Shorif,3yrs(Male)
10.       Daw Mennisa,20yrs(Female)
11.       Surat Zamal,8yrs(Female)
12.       Ajida Khatoon,Rohimuddin,6yrs (Female)
13.       Solema Khatoon,65yrs,(Female)
14.       Ferani,UKholil Ahmad,60 yrs(Female)
15.       Name unknown baby

The four steps proposed by Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK are:

Action against hate-speech and extremists – Take action to prevent hate speech and incitement of violence, and demonstrate moral leadership, with Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders personally and specifically speaking out against prejudice and hatred, and challenging the extreme nationalist narrative.

Ensure humanitarian access – Immediately lift all restrictions on the operations of international aid agencies, ensure safe return to homes, and also start to devote more government resources to assisting IDPs and isolated villagers.

Reform or repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law – The lack of full citizenship lies at the root of most of the discrimination faced by the Rohingya. There is no way this issue can be avoided, and it is much better that an NLD-led government bite the bullet and deal with it at the start of their period in government when they have a new and strong mandate, strong party unity, and elections are years away. It will have to be addressed at some point. Better it is done while the NLD-led government is strongest.

Justice and accountability – An NLD-led government should set up a credible independent investigation with international experts to investigate these crimes and propose action. If the NLD government fails to do so, the United Nations should establish its own Commission of Inquiry.

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This post is in: Press Release

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