Canberra must engage United Nations on deadly crisis in Burma

The Australian Government must use its seat on the UN Security Council to initiate immediate action in response to the horrifying rise of anti-Muslim violence and ongoing military brutality in Burma, the Greens said today.

"Human Rights Watch report they have found mass graves and evidence of forced displacement and other crimes against humanity in Arakan State (also known as Rakhine), where there are only three UN staff acting as observers. Significant United Nations observer teams must be sent in immediately - accompanied with aid and medical agencies," said Australian Greens spokesperson on Burma, Senator Scott Ludlam.

"The Australian Government - and now the European Union - has shown inappropriate haste in pursuing business as usual, which undermines the Burmese movement for reform and turns a blind eye to the alleged complicity of Burmese officials in ethnic cleansing.

"The evidence indicates that the mass violence in Arakan/Rakhine is planned not only by racist gangs, but by the political leadership of the State itself. Yet the European Union, encouraged by Foreign Minister Bob Carr, has now lifted economic sanctions on Burma.

"The problem is not restricted to one state. There is also violence in Kachin and Metkynia states, in which there is no UN presence whatsoever.

"Members of the persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority make up four per cent of Burma's population and are facing a coordinated and sustained assault from bigoted extremists - with the apparent support of local authorities. Last year tens of thousands of Rohingya people were forced to flee Arakan/Rakhine and 130,000 now live in refugee camps. Many more are attempting to reach Malaysia by boat to escape the violence.

"Violence from racist mobs is only one deadly factors in the Burmese crisis: The army has deployed artillery and its airforce against the Kachin peoples, causing widespread destruction, and a report has been sent to the International Labour Organisation claiming that Rohingya women are being forced into sexual slavery by the military."

According to the Burmese Government's own figures, two outbreaks of Buddhist-Muslim violence in 2012 left more than 200 people dead and 125,000 displaced, most of them Rohingya.