A total of 157 British parliamentarians urged their government to exert more pressure on Burmese government to stop violence on Rohingya people.
“The scale of the human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Myanmar is unprecedented in its recent history. It requires the attention of the British government at the highest level,” they said in a letter to the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday.
According to the letter signed by Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma Rushanara Ali, MP, and obtained by BSS here today, the British parliamentarians hoped that as in the past, the government would show global leadership in support of the people of Myanmar as they face in this new crisis.
The letter read, “It appears that the military is using the attacks as a pretext for the mass clearance of the Rohingya population from large parts of Northern Rakhine State rather than seeking to arrest militants from Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) involved in attacks against government buildings on August 25”.
“Based on reports from the United Nations, human rights organizations and Rohingya organizations, we are witnessing human rights violations on a scale extreme even by the standards of Myanmar’s history,” it said.
Quoting eyewitnesses, it said civilians being shot indiscriminately, people forced to lie down in rows and then shot in the back of the head, beheadings, rape, rounding people up into buildings which are then set fire to, and deliberate shooting of children.
“Estimates of people killed range from official figures of hundreds dead, to estimates by reliable Rohingya organizations of between 2,000-3,000 killed,” it read.
The letter said more than 10,000 people have been displaced by such attacks, with more than 140,000 Rohingya having arrived in Bangladesh and it is estimated at least as many again are displaced in Myanmar. “A major humanitarian crisis therefore currently exists in Myanmar and in neighbouring Bangladesh”.
It said, “Twin priorities are to do whatever we can to halt the military offensive against Rohingya civilians, and address the urgent humanitarian needs…We believe it is vital that greater pressure is brought to bear on Min Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of the military in Myanmar, to order the military to halt their attacks”.
It read, “While there is no single measure which can persuade the military to halt its attacks, any leverage that can be used must be used”.
The British parliamentarians requested the UK government to review its current approach towards the Burmese military in light of the serious human rights violations which they are committing now and have been committed in recent years.
They also requested their government that the current training programmes being provided to the Burmese military is suspended and an evaluation is carried out to assess the effectiveness and value for money.
“Any resumption should be conditioned on commitments from the military to abide by international law and the government should halt the export of any kind of equipment to the military,” the letter added.
They also urged the British government to support in urgent resolution on the situation at the new session of the human rights council and support a resumption of the annual resolution on Myanmar at the upcoming UN General Assembly.
In the letter, they also advocated providing additional funding to meet urgent new humanitarian needs, rather than coming from the existing budget allocation to Myanmar.
Welcoming recommendations of the Rakhine Commission led by Kofi Annan, they urged the British government to work with the government of Myanmar, providing both financial resources and expertise to ensure they are implemented as swiftly as possible.
The British parliamentarians, who signed the letter included Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Chair of APPG for Human Rights Ann Clwyd, Tulip Siddiq, Adrian Bailey, Afzal Khan, Ann Coffey, Chi Onwurah, Baroness Dorothea Glenys Thornton, Eleanor Smith, Angela Eagle, Bob, Blackman, Barbara Keeley, Alison McGovern, Alex Cummingham and Yvette Cooper.