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• International human rights organisation• Working with Rohingya since 2008• Other projects include, street children in Bangladesh, women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan and Roma rights across Europe.• Played a key part in providing access and information for major news outlets including: BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, AFP, Al Jazeera etc
International Political Reaction Foreign Secretary William Hague―The UK remains committed to the people of Burma, and has never wavered in itscalls for the granting of full human rights to all of its people, including theRohingya. There is also a need to seek a long term solution to the problems theyface in a manner which recognises their human rights, including their right tonationality, and to take effective steps which prevents any further forced orinvoluntary displacement and which does not leave them permanentlydisplaced.‖(13th August, 2012) President Obama―For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have facedcrushing poverty and persecution. But there is no excuse for violence againstinnocent people. And the Rohingya hold themselves — hold within themselvesthe same dignity as you do, and I do..no matter what religion you practise. Theright of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed ortheir homes may be burned simply because of who they are.‖(Address to Rangon University, 17th November) The call for the respect of human rights for Rohingya. What does it mean?
The 1982 Citizenship Act of Burma Introduced by dictatorship of General Ne Win Key points1. Full citizens – lived in Burma prior to 1823 and/or born of these citizens. (prior to British controlled)2. Associate citizens – those acquiring citizenship through 1948 Union Citizenship Law (living for two generations after British departure)3. Naturalized citizens – those who lived in Burma before 1948 and applied for citizenship after 1982 Contentious issues1. The 1948 Union Citizenship Law would have granted Rohingya citizenship as the major migration began after British rule – overturned by ‘82 Citizenship Law2. Lack of protection of citizenship implies restriction on marriage, travel and reproduction3. Violence this year has also meant a lack of protection against arbitrary arrests, arson attacks forced evictions Fundamentally contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Scale of Disorder Human Rights Watch images show clearly the widespread destruction of Rohingya homes Reports of mass graves of upto 300 found in Yin Thae village of Minbya Segregated IDP camps for Rohingya and Rakhine Hundreds thought to have perished, with reports of 115,000 IDP
The Media Response Initially very slow – hardly any verified footage (Restless Beings’ role) June Vs October coverage – a difference in rhetoric BBC – ‘spate of violence’ (June 10th) vs ‘chronic injustice’ (Nov 9th) The Guardian – ‘ethnic violence’ (June 12th) vs ‘religious war’ (Nov 9th) The Daily Telegraph – ‘curfews after riots’ (June 10th) vs ‘worst sectarian violence in years’ (Oct 28th)
Leverage To Call For Repeal of ‘82 Citizenship Law The EU (inclusive of UK) reached a decision in April 2012 to suspend all sanctions except for the export of arms from Burma. Article 4. In this regard, the EU still expects the unconditional release ofremaining political prisoners and the removal of all restrictions placed on those alreadyreleased. It looks forward to the end of conflict and to substantially improved access forhumanitarian assistance, in particular for those affected by conflict in Kachin State andalong the Eastern border, as well as to addressing the status and improving the welfareof the Rohingyas. The UK is one of the largest donors of aid to Burma: ―We are one of the largest aid donors to Burma and have allocated £187million to it over four years, which includes support for the process of ethnicreconciliation. We announced another £27 million in November for the humanitariansupport of refugees and internally displaced people and for peace-buildingactivities, drawing on our experiences in Northern Ireland. We have provided a further£2 million to Kachin, where there are 27,500 internally displaced people. We have arecord that is second to none in providing the aid that is sorely needed in that part ofthe world.‖ – Hugo Swire 4th December Foreign Policy Q&A Both the EU sanction lifting and the UK’s continued aid must be used as leverage for rationale to pressurise an immediate repeal of 1982 Citizenship Law and consequently the respect for dignity and rights for the Rohingya.