28 Oct 2012

Hague calls for end to ‘terrible violence in Burma’

Foreign Secretary William Hague calls for peace in Burma’s Rakhine state, after the destruction of settlements occupied by Muslim Rohingyas following fierce fighting with Buddhists.

Fierce battles razed parts of Rakhine state (pic: Reuters)

In a statement, Mr Hague said: “Our ambassador is in constant contact with the Burmese government.

“He spoke to the president’s office earlier today to express our grave concerns about recent developments and our readiness to assist at both a humanitarian and diplomatic level in the search for a sustainable solution to this long running issue.”

It follows claims of intense fighting in the past week and satellite images from Human Rights Watch that show the widespread destruction of a predominantly Rohingya Muslim part of Kyaukpyu, one of several areas in Rakhine state.

This is where battles between Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists threaten to derail the country’s fragile democratic transition.

Members of the Muslim Rohingya community say that more than 100 Rohingya were killed on Tuesday and 440 houses burnt by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in a village called Yaing Thay, in the northern part of the state.

Local Rohingya have accused the police of participating in the violence and shooting members of their community. Speaking to Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 News, Tun Khin from the Burmese Rohingya Oraganisation in the UK said the kiling amounts to “ethnic cleansing”.

Read more from Channel 4 News’ Asia Correspondent John Sparks who has been reporting on the Burma crisis since June

The allegations continue – community leaders claim 350 homes, two mosques and a madrassa were burnt in the village of Thayet Oat on 22 October and they say 200 Rohingya houses were burnt in a place called Aung Dine later that same day.

Although the claims have not been independently verified, if true the events would be the worst outbreak of violence since June when fighting left some 75,000 Rohingya and 5,000 Buddhists homeless.

Mr Hague said:

“The UK calls again on all parties to cease the violence and for the Burmese authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee security in the region. We also call for supplies of humanitarian support to be able to reach all those who need it without delay.

“The UK is at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to address the current crisis and to reach a sustainable settlement which respects the legitimate rights of all those who live in Rakhine.

“I have raised this issue with the Burmese foreign minister and continue to do so; we most recently discussed it when we met last month.

“I hope that we will soon see an end to this terrible violence and that peace will return to Rakhine state.”