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Government must act to end Burma violence

August 13, 2012 12:16 PM

David Ward speaking in Centenary Square

Bradford MP David Ward is calling on the Government to step up diplomatic efforts to end mounting violence against Burma's minority Rohingya community.

David Ward has written to the Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, urging him to condemn the violence and send a strong message to the Burmese Government to intervene and stop the crisis.

The letter follows a Human Rights Watch report accusing Burmese forces of standing by while violence escalates against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority, and in some cases even colluding with their attackers.

David will also be speaking at a rally organised in support Burma's Rohingya community which will take place in Bradford's Centenary Square on Monday 13th August.

Commenting, David said:

"Hundreds of Royingya have been killed and thousands more displaced. The international community cannot allow atrocities on this scale to go unnoticed.

"I want the Government to take a lead in bringing this crisis to the attention of the world. We must send a strong message to the Burmese Government that the UK is not indifferent to the plight of the Royingya.

"Alistair Burt has agreed to meet me and representatives from Bradford's Rohingya Community do discuss the UK's response to the crisis.

"I am also raising this with the Department for International Development who need to do everything they can to help the thousands of Rohingya who have fled across the border into Bangladesh and are now living in terrible conditions in refugee camps."

Human Rights Watch's report "The Government Could Have Stopped This"

can be downloaded here: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/07/31/government-could-have-stopped

David Ward's letter to Jeremy Browne:

Dear Jeremy,

I am extremely concerned by reports of mounting violence against the Rohingya community in Burma's Rakhine state. I am also concerned by the UK Government's failure to comment on these developments or to condemn the violence that is taking place. I ask that you use every diplomatic means at your disposal to bring an end to this violence and to ensure that the Rohingya people who have been displaced are allowed to return to their homes safely.

You will be aware that a recent Human Rights Watch report, The Government Could Have Stopped This, has accused security services in Rakhine state of standing by while inter-ethnic violence escalated in June. More worryingly, Human Rights Watch also uncovered evidence that the Burmese police and security services may themselves be complicit in the persecution of the Rohingya, collecting reports of their involvement in rape, torture, looting and the arbitrary killing of Rohingya people. The report warrants further investigation by the UK Government and the Foreign Office must waste no more time in condemning the violence that continues to take place.

These events have led to a humanitarian emergency in several parts of Burma and across the border in Bangladesh. I understand that thousands of internally displaced Rohingya have been denied assistance by the Burmese Government, which in many cases is also blocking external aid from getting through. Those refugees who have fled across the border into Bangladesh are also living in appalling conditions in refugee camps while many more are being turned back by the Bangladeshi Government in spite of continuing violence in Burma. I urge you to work with your colleagues in the Department for International Development to ensure that the necessary humanitarian aid gets through to displaced Rohingya both in Bangladesh and Burma.

I would be grateful if you could outline what action the Foreign Office is taking to address this situation so that I can pass this information on to the Rohingya community in Bradford. I also ask that you do everything you can to bring pressure to bear on the Burmese and Bangladeshi authorities, as well as our partners in the European Union and the United Nations, to cooperate in bringing this crisis to an end. Most importantly I believe the UK Government must issue a strong public condemnation of these atrocities to send a strong message that the international community is not indifferent to the suffering of the Rohingya.

I look forward to your response.

David Ward