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Rohingya Muslims face starvation

Published Jul 16, 2012 02:02am


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AID groups have warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe in western Myanmar as authorities attempt to isolate tens of thousands of the displaced ethnic Rohingya minority in camps described by one aid worker as “open air prisons”.

Aid has struggled to reach those affected by sectarian unrest in early June. The UN announced on Friday that 10 aid workers in Arakan state had been arrested, five were UN staff. Some have been charged, although the details remain unclear.

Rates of malnutrition among the Muslim Rohingya, who have borne the brunt of emergency measures implemented in the wake of fierce rioting in June between the minority group and the majority Arakanese, are said to be “alarming”. Most aid workers have either been evacuated or forced to flee in recent weeks.

“We are worried that malnutrition rates already have and will continue to rise dramatically; if free and direct humanitarian access accompanied by guaranteed security is not granted with the shortest delay, there’s no way they won’t rise,” said Tarik Kadir of Action Against Hunger.

Its staff were forced to leave northern Arakan state, where 800,000 Rohingya live and where malnutrition rates were already far above the global indicator for a health crisis. With scant medical care reaching the area, the situation is likely to worsen.

“There’s no way of measuring the impact over the past month because staff have either been evacuated or forced to flee,” he said. “And given that rainy season is under way, when you factor in all these other problems, we don’t need to measure it to know it’s a catastrophe.”

President Thein Sein, who has been praised for reform, on Wednesday unsuccessfully requested UN help in resettling nearly one million Rohingya abroad. Critics likened it to mass deportation.

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said it “would expect a strong international response” to any attempt to deport the Rohingya. HRW staff who recently returned from Arakan state said that while both Rohingya and Arakanese were complicit in “terrible violence” during the rioting, subsequent mass arrests “focused on Rohingya”.

“Local police, the military, and border police have shot and killed Rohingya during sweep operations, those detained are being held incommunicado,” she said.

A resident of Maungdaw in northern Arakan said he had witnessed Rohingya men and children as young as 12 being tortured in a police station in early July. After interrogating them about arson attacks in the town, police “handed them over” to Arakanese youths inside the station.

“I saw these youths burning the vital parts of old men with a cheroot [cigar] and also hitting young Muslim detainees with an iron rod.” The official death toll of the rioting and its aftermath has been put at 78, although the real figure may be much higher. International observers are banned from visiting northern Arakan state.

A 1982 law refuses to recognise the Rohingya as Myanmar citizens, and hundreds of thousands have fled to Bangladesh. The aid problems have coincided with a dramatic rise in food prices in Arakan. — The Guardian, London


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (21) Closed

pleasant Jul 16, 2012 12:31pm
I agree with you Zero. But the fact remains Pakistani Muslims carried all the pains of global Muslims so far. You cannot deny that.
Rocky Jul 16, 2012 12:40pm
Red Cross and Saudis are totally different.
human Jul 16, 2012 11:32am
They are very notorious? What does that mean? Do you know each every single one personally? No one deserves to be treated the way they are, even you after making such an comment. Be very careful about your perceptions, <Muslims are not reducing in number and influence, I would rather try an figure them out, The world does not belong to specific race at specific areas. The whole world is everyone's to share. You vile waste of human life.
Irfan Jul 16, 2012 12:22pm
Bangladesh should Open its borders for the refugees, other Muslim countries should support Bangladesh for setting up the refugee camps, same as Pakistan did for Afghan Refugees...Muslim Ummah should send their Zakat (as Ramadan is near) to these refugees....Common Brothers lets do something..for Allah Sake for the love of Prophet (PBUH)... we will be asked for this remember...
raika45 Jul 16, 2012 01:26pm
You share a world if you integrate with the people around you.How many of your muslims around the world do that?To you it is your religion at the apex.How many of your immigrants wifes can speak the language of the country they settle in?Your statement "the whole world is everyone's to share" is a joke.Try settling in a mid east oil rich muslim country.See if they will take you.After all they are your "muslim" brothers.
mohd Jul 17, 2012 05:43pm
I am from Myanmar, one of the Muslims, what bro Adur Razzaque said is true. I really appreciate it. The Rohingyas are Muslims and they are the part of the Ummah. It is Ummah's responsibility to take care of other distressed Muslims in anywhere of the world. All of you should know how Buddhists in Myanmar are insulting Islam.
ziaush shams Jul 16, 2012 09:50am
This has nothing to do with Pakistan or Bangladesh. This human tragedy has been created by the present military administration, disguised in civilian dress, through state sponsored ethnic cleansing of minority non-Biddhist people, who are living in the Arakan state of Burma for more than two hundred years. General Thien Sien, who appears to be the Godfather of this crimnal act, has recently announced that all the 800,000 or so of them should be deported. His audacity is outrageous and this act is totally unacceptable to any civilized society. It is high time that the Burmese people, who are ruled illegally by the Junta since 1962, should rise to the occassion and free 50 million odd Burmese people from Thein Sien led thugs' dreadful subjugation. Enough is enough. The rest of the world should join the Burmese in their freedom struggle and save resouce rich and culturally rich Burma from utter distruction.
Zero Jul 16, 2012 11:45am
Your insensitivity doesn't help the situation. If you can't be a part of the solution, don't be a part of the problem!
Deb Jul 16, 2012 02:26pm
Are you really part of the solutions??
Espad Jul 16, 2012 02:38pm
It is specious on the part of some readers in Pakistan to suggest that Bangladesh should shelter Burmese Rohingiya Muslims and that the Ummah should help Bangladesh financially to shoulder this burden. Did Pakistan accept the so called Biharis after the formation of Bangladesh in 1971 ? This when Biharis were the staunch supporters of a united Pakistan and suffered (and continue to suffer) greatly after Bangladesh became independent. These Biharis even today wish to migrate to Pakistan - but are not wanted here !! Therefore it is best Rohingiyas come to terms with the Buddhist majority in Burma, accept their minority status, totally assimilate with Burmese society, adopt its culture and live peacefully. It is their insistence to remain outside the Burmese mainstream that is responsible for the Buddhist majority to distrust them and suspect their loyalty to Burma. For Muslims in Pakistan to advise the "ummah" to financially support Rohingiyas to migrate to Bangladesh is suicidal to the interests of Rohingiyas, because this will only embolden the Burmese military brass to forcibly drive them out of Burma.
SAROJ Jul 16, 2012 08:03am
Abdur Razzaque Jul 16, 2012 09:40am
The Rohingyas are the mixed community comprised of Bengali Muslims, migrated Muslims and locally converted ones too.They are not the pure Bangladeshi ones. They have been living over there since the British colonial time. The then British govt. even exiled our last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah in Burma and his tomb is located in Rangoon too. Whatever it is, the Rohingyas are Muslims and they are the part of the Ummah. It is Ummah's responsibility to take care of other distressed Muslims in anywhere of the world. Thanks to the UNO for starting negotiations with the Myanmar govt. Alas, on the other hand, the OIC and all other influential Muslim countries keeping themselves aloof from the Rohingya crisis. Instead of showing up their solidarity they are showing up their interest to fight against other Muslim nation.
ahmed41 Jul 16, 2012 05:44am
They are facing starvation . So let all the Islamic charity set ups help them with food and resources and rehabilitation. If the RED CROSS can do it , so can the Saudis .
MKB Jul 16, 2012 08:46am
Rohingyas, are originally Bengali sleaking people, ssettled in Arakan province of Mayanmar.They are very notorious.
Jawwad Jul 16, 2012 03:19pm
Where is Aung Suki the champion of human rights? I hear she purposely neglecting the plight of Muslims in Burma since no politician want to be associated with it for political reasons. All that championing human violations for what Ms. Suki? Exposed!
Iron First Jul 16, 2012 04:49pm
Islamic countries are fighting among each other , killing their own people . so what these so called ummah can do ?Non-muslims suffer in Muslim countries and so do the Muslims in non-muslim country .What is wrong in that ? Instead of crying foul , Islamic countries should extend helping hand to these poor if they can ,otherwise leave them to their fate .
Asif Raza Jul 17, 2012 01:18pm
Completely agreeing to the article I would like to add further that the condition through which Rohingya Muslims are passing is panic and inhumane. It’s a clear violation of human rights and charter of United Nations. Myanmar in which this creed is living since British colonial period, is not only denying to give them basic human right of citizenship but also has turned to them as a hostile and assailant and even it is more heartening that no one of the neighboring countries seems to accommodate them even as refugees who are being slaughtered by a majority of Buddhists. The question is that why all sovereign countries who claim best democracies are silent over this innocent bloodshed of people deprived of homeland and treated as refugees with in the country in which they are living since centuries. So it becomes the very first responsibility of all civilized nations of the world who believe in humanity to stop this massacre of Rohingya minority in Myanmar. All NGO's and human right organizations should come forward and must do their best to stop this mass butchery of a stricken poor minority and to lessen their woes and worries. We should be human first and all other races after that because the only real nation is humanity.
wajahath ali Jul 17, 2012 09:06pm
May Allah give them Patience and provide them with food and Power to fight back and stay alive
Ahmed Jumma Jul 18, 2012 04:36am
DEB, All I am trying to make you understand that everybody has equal right in this world of the Creator irrespect of religion. If you had denied the right of living in your country in the beginning there was not problem for you. Now Rohingya people have grown to more than 0.8 million, you should adopt them for betterment of your own country. Every citizen should obey the Law of the land, so Rohingya people will also follow the Law. Please remember we also have to die one day and have to be presented before God on the day of judgement. Not so far away.
Ahmed Jumma Jul 18, 2012 04:59am
RAIKA45 - You know Arab World has their own Law of the Land from the beginning where everybody is living peacefully whether he is a Muslim or non-Muslim. They have shared their money for all of the world, if they didn't there were no other rich countries like America, Britain, Switzerland because they had deposited their money in these countries without getting interest and so those countries utilized the interest money for welfare of their people. Sharing of knowledge is initiated from Arabs while Church was not allowing education for poors and common men. Please go through the history. Who started studies of Science.
BURMESE DUTCH BOY Aug 07, 2012 01:22pm
we are getting distracted now,rohingyas is the subject and not buddhist or muslim or hindus..this people has no citizenship ...they should be given one if they are from burma..the notorious military gouvernment of burma will only use them for their benefits such as force labor,human traffic-ing of prostitution etc.etc...i donot understand why aung san suukyi is not raising hell on this matter!!!!people are starving and dying from torture.....please somebody save them!!!!UN or AUNG SAN SUUKYI!!!!!!!!! I AM A BURMESE DUTCH BOY