Rushanara Ali MP raises concerns about the use of Burma census to marginalise Rohingya Muslims

Rushanara Ali MP has spoken out on the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Burma. Speaking in Foreign and Commonwealth Questions, Rushanara pushed the government for an assessment on improving freedom of religion and belief in Burma.

Rushanara drew the attention of the House to the worsening situation in Burma, saying:

“Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state face discrimination and a protracted humanitarian crisis, compounded by the failure of the Burmese Government to recognise their right to citizenship. What action is the Minister taking to prevent the Burmese Government from using their census, which receives some £10 million of UK assistance, to discriminate against Rohingya Muslims by refusing to recognise their religious and ethnic identity?”

The government also released a statement on this issue, saying: “DFID has recently allocated an additional £5.8m of humanitarian funding to help meet the emergency needs of both communities in Rakhine State, bringing the UK’s total allocation for emergency humanitarian work there to £12m since 2012. In 2014, DFID has also allocated a further £8m of assistance to Burma’s peace process.”

Speaking afterwards, Rushanara said:

“I welcome efforts made by the UK to fund humanitarian work in Burma. But aid by itself is not enough. That’s why I’m calling on the Burmese authorities to address the culture of marginalisation and discrimination of the Rohingya community in Burma. We need to ensure that money sent from the UK to conduct any official census is not misused.”

“I visited Burma last year to see for myself how the Rohingya are marginalised. What must happen is a review of the 1982 Citizenship Law which renders the Rohingya stateless, denying them basic human rights. The international community – with Britain taking the lead – must now apply pressure on the Burmese Government to facilitate humanitarian access and improve freedom of religion in Burma.