ANC condemns violence against Myanmar's Rohingya
Cape Town – The ANC has added its voice to the growing international condemnation of the violence directed against the Rohingya by Myanmar's military.
Edna Molewa, chairperson of the ANC's NEC sub-committee on international relations, said on Monday in a statement that the ruling party "condemns in the strongest terms the actions of the Myanmar military that have resulted in the displacement of some 509 000 Rohingya Muslims from the Northern Rakhine State to Bangladesh".
"This has led to a significant humanitarian and refugee crisis that includes an estimated 100 000 children," Molewa said.
She pointed out that the Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Despite having lived in the country formerly known as Burma for centuries, they are not considered one of the country’s official ethnic groups.
"This has effectively rendered them stateless."
"The ANC condemns not only the violence being perpetrated against Rohingya men, women and children by the military – but also the decade's long apartheid discrimination they have faced, dating back to British colonial rule."
Molewa said the United Nations described the Rohingya as "the world’s most persecuted minority".
She said the ANC called on the Myanmar government to immediately stop the refugee crisis by allowing the Rohingya people who have fled, to return to their places of birth.
"The international community should put pressure on the Myanmar government to stop the indiscriminate attacks on the Rohingyan [sic] people, and continue to support the ongoing effort to alleviate the plight of the displaced," she said.
"We further call on the Myanmar government to take the necessary steps to grant them nationality."
She said the ANC recalls the historical ties of solidarity and support that the ANC and all freedom-loving people had extended to Aung San Suu Kyi over the many years of her exile and house arrest.
Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, is the leader of Myanmar's governing National League for Democracy party and the State Councillor – a position similar to prime minister. She has received widespread criticism from across the globe for the crackdown on the Rohingya.
"We implore her to support the Rohingya's right to return to their country of origin and to ensure their safety and right to live and work with dignity," said Molewa.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Myanmar's civilian-led government, which took office in March 2016, has failed to meet expectations to implement significant reforms.
The "brutal crackdowns" on the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine State started in October last year and, according to HRW, include extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, and widespread arson.
Amnesty International said earlier this month that "the Myanmar authorities are actively blocking aid groups from reaching affected areas in northern Rakhine State, where people are on the brink of survival".