Call for action to end violence in Burma

The international community must act to end the escalating conflict in Burma's western Arakan State, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the past week as a result of fighting between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed and over 100,000 people have been displaced.

Although both sides have perpetrated violence, CSW said the Rohingyas had been the "primary victims" of a "systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing".

The Rohingyas have been effectively stateless since they were stripped of their citizenship in 1982 and are described by CSW as among the most persecuted peoples in Burma.

There have been reports of security forces acting in collusion with Rakhine mobs in attacking, arresting and killing Rohingyas, and there is strong suspicion that government elements want to eliminate the Rohingyas.

CSW said the international community should act under the 'responsibility to protect' principle, which is aimed at halting mass atrocity crimes.

The organisation wants pressure put on the Burmese government to allow international observers to maintain a presence in areas affected by the conflict.

Andrew Johnston, CSW’s Advocacy Director, said: “This crisis is a cause for very grave concern, and poses a serious threat to peace and democratisation in Burma.

"The recent violence is especially troubling because it appears to have escalated into a wider anti-Muslim campaign, with Muslims generally, not only Rohingyas, facing attacks.

"There is an urgent need for international action and aid to bring an end to this violence which has caused so much death, destruction and displacement.

"Longer-term, questions of citizenship and inter-racial and inter-religious harmony and reconciliation must be addressed, but right now the priority must be restoring peace and providing urgently needed aid to the affected areas.”

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