By Gehan Bashumailah
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the violent conflict which broke out last June in Rakhine State, Myanmar [Burma], causing killings of hundreds of Muslims and 150,000 Muslim citizens to flee their homes and live within the confines of overcrowded camps.
The killings and rampage against Rohingya and other Muslims continue unabated. On May 28 night an argument between a Muslim man and a Buddhist petrol vendor sparked another outbreak of anti-Muslim violence in Lashio, Shan State.
The north-eastern mountain town was suddenly torn apart as Buddhist mobs went on a rampage, destroying Muslim-owned shops and religious buildings, and clashing with Muslim men on the street.
By May 30, hundreds of Muslim families had been forced to flee the violence, often at a moment’s notice. They were only able to carry a few basic belongings and rushed their children to safety.
Nongovernmental organizations and reporters have documented children fleeing a burning neighbourhood and beaten to death while policemen watched. Photos and video circulating online evidence shocking scenes of Muslims being burned alive on the streets of Myanmar.
The Government now has begun to decrease Muslim population by reinstating the two-child policy. “Implementation of this callous and cruel two-child policy against the Rohingya is another example of the systematic and wide ranging persecution of this group, who have recently been the target of an ethnic cleansing campaign,” said Asia Director, Brad Adams, at Human Rights Watch.
Justifying the policy, state spokesman Win Myaing Rakhine said: “The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists)… Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.” The law unsurprisingly doesn’t apply to Buddhists.
UK Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, speaking in Parliament on June 12, said the British Government had said the Government of Myanmar must be judged by their actions and not their words, “yet over the past 18 months the UK Government have reversed a decade-long policy of prioritising human rights in Burma and supported the lifting of all European sanctions on the country despite the fact that none of the human rights benchmarks of the European Union has been met.”
She added that “the heartbreaking plight of the Rohingya people, is described by the UN as the “most persecuted group in the world.”