Burma Needs Urgent Humanitarian Aid: Asean

By Markus Junianto Sihaloho 4 December 2012

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) supports the United Nations’ calls for urgent action to deliver humanitarian aid to displaced people in Burma.

While expressing her appreciation of progress in Burma, AIPMC President Eva Kusuma Sundari urged the Naypyidaw government to quickly realize the recommendation in the resolution.

“We call on Myanmar’s authorities to improve human rights conditions within their country, especially for thousands of Rohingya Muslims who are facing systematic violence in Rakhine [Arakan] State,” she said on Sunday. “The government should guarantee protection and basic rights of their own people, including the Rohingyas.”

The AIPMC is comprised of legislators from the 10 Asean member states.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are more than 400,000 internally displaced people in Burma. The UN body said that some 115,000 have been forced to flee their homes in Arakan State since intercommunal violence broke out in June.

Meanwhile, more than 235,000 have been run out of their home towns in Karen State, while more than 75,000 have been displaced by the ongoing war between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army in the country’s far north.

“People should not be prosecuted because they come from different ethnic and religious groups,” said Eva.

AIPMC Vice-President Kraisak Choonhavan also spoke out against the prejudices on the Muslim Rohingya community.

“The government’s denial of the very legitimacy of the Rohingya ethnic group constitutes a major barrier to finding a long-term solution to the intercommunal problems in Rakhine state and betrays an inherent ethno-nationalist superiority complex of the predominantly Buddhist-Burman government of Myanmar,” he told the Mizzima news agency. The Thai legislator added that the immediate concern was the need to get urgent humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the violence.

“But the greater fear is that if the government, ethno-nationalist political parties as well as elements in the Buddhist clergy continue to label these people as ‘Bengali’ interlopers with no rights, then this violence could spread so much further, putting the safety, dignity and lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk,” he was quoted as saying.