Wednesday, 18 July 2012

#SaveTheRohingya Campaign Launch

We are just a few concerned individuals who heard about a crisis in Burma (Myanmar) and a threat to the Rohingya people. We did some research. This is what we found.

We dug some more and managed to make contact with a Rohingyan man in hiding in Burma. This is the transcript from the final part of a telephone interview with that man on 17th July (it was hard to catch everything he said because he was sobbing):
'This is our life. We are in a very hard situation. Our life is hard..
So please… with the power of… please try to save our life.. really really I have no-one to explain to how they’ve (affected?) our lives.. please try to save our lives.. please contact with other people please..
I hope all the people (will try to?) save our lives.. please try to save our lives, we are very.. until now we have no information from our brothers and sisters.. please try to save our lives and our dignity.. (??)
our weak point is because we are Muslim.. we have no more weak point, at the moment, they are trying to end Islam.. they try to kill our lives.. (please contact the Islamic countries and other news agencies) we are dying.. we will die by ourselves..
we cannot go to other villages because the border immigration are waiting to kill us.. they are waiting for us..
our weak point is just because we are Muslim.. please try to save our lives..I’ve heard so many times in the other townships.. from a lot lot of people I’ve heard this.. they were raping the Muslim women.. they reported 171 people were arrested..
all the women, they don’t have even a lighter to burn (fire) to cook rice.. just they are eating green banana trees..there are even no (more) banana trees for them to eat.. so please, don’t forget about that..
please try to save our lives by sharing this information with other countries.. our children are dying....
more than 1,000 lives are already killed in my village – they are also like me, I am also like them..'

These are our notes from a first interview with him on 14th July:

  • police burning Muslim villages
  • Rakhine come dressed as Muslim mullahs (i.e. sheikhs) and burn Muslim houses
  • he saw this
  • they are OUT OF FOOD, no houses/shelter (as they've been burnt), and no water
  • burning mosques and houses
  • 70,000+ HOMELESS - living in hiding
  • they are attacking one township after another
  • can't go to city or another village because there are 250 border immigration guards patrolling the villages etc - if they see any Rohingya, they kill them
  • they're scared to move around
  • they are giving wrong information to villagers/propaganda
  • Rohingya are NOT burning houses of Rakhine
  • the reports about 100,000 Rakhhine hiding in monasteries because Muslims are burning their houses is ABSOLUTE LIE (he couldnt emphasise this enough)
  • they have nothing - no Internet, no Media
  • the "crisis time" was from 8-13 June:
  • he went around collecting data, 1040 are DEFINITELY missing, presumed dead
  • 2500 ppl injured
  • Rakhine SHAVED HAIR of DEAD BODIES of Rohingya to make them look like MONKS (i.e. that Rohingya killed the Rakhine)
  • some people saw this and told him about it
  • an ambulance driver saw this and reported it to them
  • Rakhine dress like mullahs and go into Muslim villages - burn and kill
  • Special services and Police Forces are working WITH Rakhon
  • 200+ ppl died by bullets
  • 400+ ppl died by sword/knife
  • 200+ ppl died by being burnt alive
  • NO DOCTORS, NO CLINICS, Red Cross came 3 wks ago
  • 10 ppl die every day in all villages from fever, malaria, illness, injuries
  • people have come to his village every day JUST WANTING FOOD, as they have NO FOOD in their village
  • impossible to send food because they are restricted by Rakhine
  • 10 ppl arrested, 1 of them was working for MSF
  • other townships - 30 ppl dead, 147 arrested (that he heard of)
  • EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: a mother came and sought refuge in his village, Rakhine came to her village, burnt her house, her 8 year old son was inside, he was severely burnt when she went in to get him, she managed to flee with him to the guy's village. the boy survived 2 days, then died (most likely due to lack of medical aid)

 our source also told us that on 14th July some food arrived in Sittwe from Myanmar capital city, but when 20 Muslims tried to get it 2000 Rakhine, police and security shot at them, so they had to escape the gunshots and go back with no food. 
He said that they asked the military to buy food for them, but as soon as the Rakhine recognized that the military was buying food for them they wanted to kill the military.

We tried to get some urgent media coverage on this but we soon realised that things move so slowly with large organisations, and everyone was so busy, that probably all these people would have starved to death before we got anywhere near front page headlines. So we are putting up this information here and launching a Twitter campain to try and get some urgent media attention on this matter, and hopefully some food for these people! We need the public to help us. We need the media to contact us.

If you are an NGO or an established journalist (with a profile we can verify) and would like more information about these interviews then please email with full contact details and also information regarding who you work for.

Please check back each day for 5 new online actions that you can join us with to help this story get the attention it deserves. We will be tweeting to the #SaveTheRohingya tag. Please help us start this campaign by telling all your tweeting friends that it exists and follow the tag for when we launch our first actions. There is lots of information on our research page that you can use for tweeting.

Action 1.1 is here. Please do it!

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