Monday, April 22, 2013

Burma: state complicity in attacks on Muslim minority

The parallels between Sri Lanka and Burma mean that it is worth monitoring the developments there closely, to see what it leads to. The latest HRW report on the violence lays the blame squarely on the state. The violence was precluded by an organised campaign of hate:
"For months, local Arakanese political party officials and senior Buddhist monks publicly vilified the Rohingya population and described them as a threat to Arakan State."...."In many instances, calls by monks and the RNDP [Rakhine Nationalities Development Party- a nationalist party in Burma], for the ouster of Rohingya and Kaman Muslim communities were accompanied by instructions to the Buddhist population to socially and economically isolate them."
A great deal of local organizing preceded and supported October’s violence. Arakanese political parties, monks’ associations, and community groups issued numerous anti-Rohingya pamphlets and public statements. Most of the public statements and pamphlets explicitly or implicitly deny the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity, demonize them, and call for their removal from the country,..... The statements frequently were released in connection with organized meetings and in full view of local, state, and national authorities who raised no concerns.
 Could incidents such as this, or this, be the start of more serious action in Sri Lanka?

HRW concludes that:
"Burmese state involvement in the crimes appears to have been both direct and indirect. While much of the violence appears to have been carried out by mobs with weapons, various branches of the state security forces stood by and did nothing to provide security for attacked Muslims and at times participated directly in the atrocities – this includes the local police, Lon Thein riot police, the inter-agency border control force called Nasaka, and the army and navy. Human Rights Watch found no indications that the Burmese government has seriously investigated or taken legal action against those responsible for planning, organizing, or participating in the violence either in June or October. This absence of accountability lends credence to allegations that this was a government-supported campaign of ethnic cleansing in which crimes against humanity were committed. Security forces have actively impeded accountability and justice by overseeing or ordering the digging of mass graves, or by digging mass graves themselves, in some cases after killings involving state security forces."
The outcome was as dreadful, as it was predictable. We in Sri Lanka know better, or should know better. Do we?

No comments: