By UCA News
By Mike MacLachlan
There is “an urgent need for international action,” including by the United Nations, to curb religious violence in western Myanmar, six senior British politicians said in a letter published today.
“The priority must be to put pressure on the government to stop the violence and to provide unhindered access for aid agencies,” they wrote in a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“More emergency aid is needed, and pressure on Bangladesh to allow refugees across its borders is required.”
The letter follows weeks of violence between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya in the region bordering Bangladesh that has led to hundreds of deaths, the destruction of at least 22 villages and nearly 100,000 people being forced out of their homes.
There has been violence on both sides, the letter points out, but “the Rohingya are the primary victims, having faced persecution for years.”
Myanmar should revise the 1982 citizenship law, which does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens, the writers, all members of the British House of Lords, wrote.
They acknowledge that Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent visit to Britain shows that change is under way in Myanmar. But this is threatened by the Rakhine-Rohingya situation, they said.
“This crisis has consequences for regional peace and security, and for [Myanmar’s] reforms. It merits the urgent attention of the UN Security Council and the secretary-general,” the letter said.
“As a permanent member of the Security Council, Britain should ensure that this is placed on the agenda immediately.”
The letter is signed by the Catholic rights campaigner and former MP Lord Alton, the former Liberal Party leader Lord Steel, Baroness Cox, also a rights campaigner, Baroness Jenkin, a Conservative peer, Lady (Glenys) Kinnock, opposition spokesperson in the Lords for the Department of International Development, and Lord McConnell, a former First Minister in the Scottish Parliament.