Monday, January 26, 2009

Rohingyas face 'slow burning genocide': Activist

By Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - At least a hundred Rohingya ethnics and supporters on Monday gathered in front of the Thai and Burmese embassies in London, to stage a protest demanding just treatment to fellow Rohingya boat people, who are allegedly being detained by Thai authorities.

Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK), who led the demonstration, said they are concerned about their fellow Rohingya boat people, who are reportedly detained by Thai authorities and have been towed away to sea on boats without engine.

"We call on the Thai government to find a long term solution to the problem and urge them to exercise restraint from towing away our unfortunate brothers into the sea," Tun Khin said.

Migration of Rohingyas, who mainly reside in parts of Burma's western Arakan state, in search of greener pastures will persist until the root cause is solved, Tun Khin said.

"Towing them away to the sea is not a solution to the problem," he added.

According to Tun Khin, Rohingyas, who are Muslim minorities in military-ruled Burma, face the worst form of human rights violation under the military regime. They are deprived of being a citizen and are required to get permission even for marriage.

Rohingyas are banned from travelling within Burma, education and the right to own properties such as land, house and others are denied by the ruling junta, Tun Khin said.

"These [boatpeople] desperate as they are at home, are risking their lives out in the sea and are going out in search of a better place. And these waves are not going to end unless the root causes are solved," he added.

In recent months, since December, hundreds of Rohingya boat people have been reported rescued from drifting near the coast of Andaman Islands in India and at Sabang in Aceh province of Indonesia.

Survivors said, they were arrested and detained by the Thai military as they crossed the Thai waters, and were towed away in wooden boats without engines with little supply of rice and water. But Thailand has denied mistreating the Rohingya boat people.

The boatpeople were reportedly heading for Malaysia and Thailand in search of jobs and security.

Tun Khin said, this is only the tip of the iceberg of the problem and several more are likely to follow unless the Thai government as well as the international community acts to stop persecutions in Burma.

He said, the Burmese junta is targeting them in particular and are forcing them to be stateless, as younger generations of the Rohingyas are no longer issued national identity cards.

"It is a slow burning genocide," he said.

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