Myanmar government’s restrictions on Muslims put health of 1000s at risk: MSF
Wed May 29, 2013 12:2AM
In June 2012, the government imposed movement restrictions on Muslims in townships around Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, after clashes broke out between Muslims and extremist Buddhists.Restrictions imposed by Myanmar government on Rohingya Muslims prevents tens of thousands from getting health care and basic services in the west of the country, the international group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders--MSF) says. Ronald Kremer, the aid group's emergency coordinator in Rakhine state, said in a statement published in New York City on Tuesday that the government was confining around 140,000 people to makeshift camps. He stated that the movement of tens of thousands of others, still living in their homes, was also severely restricted. "MSF has just returned from areas where whole villages are cut off from basic services," Kremer said.
"What we have seen shows that current policies such as movement restrictions are having a detrimental impact on people's health… This includes tuberculosis patients unable to access the treatment they need to stay alive, and pregnant women dying unnecessarily because they have nowhere safe to deliver."MSF also quoted an unnamed man saying the restrictions prevent the displaced even from going to the hospital, or school. Also, they are not allowed to fish or to collect firewood. They are only able to go to their farms with military escorts just two or three at a time. "This fear is so pervasive that even when people were living in the path of Tropical Storm Mahasen, many told us they were too scared to move," Kremer said, adding, "They did not know where they would be moved to, or what would happen to them." MSF called on the Myanmar government to provide the displaced with access to health care and proper shelter. In June 2012, the government imposed movement restrictions on Muslims in townships around Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, after clashes broke out between Muslims and extremist Buddhists. About 800,000 Rohingyas in Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement. The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status. Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists. The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee. Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority. Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmar military for its persecution of the Rohingyas. Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists. NT/AS