Recent reports from the north-western Rakhine region of Myanmar are horrifying. Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing across the border to Bangladesh over the past few weeks. Their testimonies are heartbreaking, and it is clear action is urgently needed. There is strong evidence that the violence directed at the Rohingya people is systematic, and is intended to drive them out of the country. If this is correct, it is ethnic cleansing and a crime against humanity.
The latest upsurge in this decades-long was caused by an attack on border guard posts by a militant group known as the Arakhan Rohingya Salvation Army. The response by the army of Myanmar has been entirely disproportionate. They have burned entire villages across large areas of the region, forcing the residents to flee for their lives. Many credible and terrible reports of atrocities have emerged. These reports provide evidence of indiscriminate murder and mutilation, of gang rape, including of children, and of intentional deprivation of the survivors of all of their possessions and of the basic necessities of survival – food, clean water, and shelter.
The Government needs to do far more to make our condemnation of these abuses clear, and to put strong pressure on the government and the military of Myanmar to end this campaign of indiscriminate violence and guarantee the Rohingya their rights.
I was proud to sign a letter to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urging him to take stronger action, authored by my colleague Rushanara Ali, and signed by 157 Parliamentarians across every major political party. You can view the letter here:
I have also asked several Parliamentary questions on this issue throughout this year, on the 17th January, the 22nd June, and twice on the 4th September, keeping up the pressure on the Government to act. I am currently waiting on a Government response to my most recent questions.