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Media Release: Reimpose Sanctions, Says Peace Foundation

The Australian government should consider re-imposing sanctions on Myanmar, according to the Sydney Peace Foundation (SPF).

A new report from the US-based Human Rights Watch has shown how the central Thein Sein government is complicit in appalling human rights abuses in Rakhine state in western Myanmar.

The report titled, “All you can do is pray, Crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State” was recently published almost 12 months after the initial violence.

The report states, “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.”

It also states, “The evidence indicates that political and religious leaders in Arakan State planned, organized, and incited attacks against the Rohingya and other Muslims with the intent to drive them from the state or at least relocate them from areas in which they had been residing – particularly from areas shared with the majority Buddhist population.”

The report has shown that all the political leaders who planned, organized and incited the violent pogroms of ethnic cleansing have gone unpunished.

SPF Council member Kuranda Seyit has just returned from a visit to Rakhine state and was shocked by what he saw. He was deeply disturbed by the horrific eye-witness accounts of the violence and appalled by the terrible living conditions in the camps.

Mr Seyit said today, “We have over 115, 000 people herded together like sheep into a refugee camp, with very little resources, a trickle of international aid and poor health and educational facilities.  A grave concern, is that the Rohingya people are living in fear of more attacks and they are not allowed to leave the camps.”

On 12 July,  2012, president Thein Sein proclaimed that the “only solution” for the situation in Arakan State was to expel “illegal” Rohingya to other countries or to camps overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Australia must look beyond the superficial reforms that are taking place in Myanmar and to hold the Thein Sein government accountable for allowing the massacres to take place. While there is a transition towards democracy, it is simply not good enough to have democratic elections. A true democracy gives all the basic rights of freedom of expression, movement and religion, a right to life and a right for a peaceful existence with justice across the land.  These are not being upheld in Myanmar yet the Australian government has lifted sanctions and established a trade commission in the country.” Mr Seyit added.


Please contact Kuranda Seyit for more information on 0412 318045.