Burma Task Force Deplores Burmese Military Bombing
Burma Task Force Deplores Burmese Military Bombing of Rohingya Villages; Support Kofi Annan Peace Plan:
For the last 10 days, the Burmese military has been building its troops in Rohingya areas. Together with the UN, Human Rights Watch, even the US Congress, Burma Task Force has been calling for the Burmese military to stand down to avoid violence.
Last night 25 Rohingya villages were bombed by the Burmese military reportedly using six gunship helicopters, navy ships and tanks as Rohingya families slept. This is a clear effort by the Burmese military to sabotage the Kofi Annan report’s recommendations for peaceful coexistence.
“Burma Task Force deplores the escalation of violence in Rakhine State, which will only harm countless vulnerable civilians as it did when the military repressed the population in their October 2016 Clearance Operation,” stated Malik Mujahid, Chairman of Burma Task Force. “On one side, we have frightened men armed with machetes and the other side we have government gunships and troops known for crimes against humanity. These are not equal forces. But there must be immediate ceasefire, not a no-holds-barred crackdown on the Rohingya population.”
The Burmese government has consistently ignored international pressure to return rights to the Rohingya minority. Despite Aung San Suu Kyi serving as a figurehead, the Burman-dominated military clearly still controls the government, with an extremist ideology that prevents peace not only with the Rohingya but with the many other ethnic groups in Shan, Kachin, Mon and other states.
The Burmese military has been active in empowering Rakhine Buddhist extremists, and reports indicate they have been arming their militias in order to further escalate an extremely dangerous situation. Since late July, the Rohingya population of of Zay Di Pyin of Rathedaung have been blockaded by their Buddhist neighbors and prevented from leaving their hamlet to work or fetch food and water. And last week, the Rathedaung Penn Kaing IDP camp was raided and all the males were arrested.
Now the Burmese military claims 59 Rohingya "insurgents" and 12 soldiers are killed last night. However, the military has again and again demonstrated that it does not spare civilians. The Burmese government refuses to allow a UN investigative team into Burma to follow up on the many allegations of atrocities.
Burma Task Force calls on the international media to avoid depicting the Rohingya victims of genocide as a threat. Playing into the securitizing narrative will enable the Islamophobic Burmese military to avoid implementing Kofi Annan’s plan for coexistence. Instead we will face only ethnic cleansing in the guise of “Clearance Operations.” We note that Mr. Annan has condemned the overall violence, but he emphasized that, “I urge the security forces to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation and above all ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed.”
The International community must also take action. Burma Task Force also calls on the Government of Bangladesh not to close its border with Burma; for US Congress to support a re-institution of sanctions on Burma, and for the United Nations to condemn the escalation.
“Just when there was a glimmer of progress with the Kofi Annan report, this unfolding crisis is heart-breaking,” stated Adem Carroll of Burma Task Force’s UN Office.
Justice will be served through
nonviolent means such as the People’s Permanent Tribunal
(PPT) on Burmese Crimes Against Humanity on September 18-22
in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Burma Task Force USA is the
principal program of Justice for All, a US-based NGO
promoting human rights and accredited with DPI at the United
Nations and supports the PPT process.