Uniting Church in Australia President, Stuart McMillan, has urged the Australian Government to take the lead in efforts to end the brutal persecution of Rohingya people in Myanmar.
This comes after reports of ongoing systematic burning of Rohingya villages, beatings and gang rape as well as the murders of Rohingya people including the killings of babies and children.
Between August 25 and September 14 alone, there have been arson attacks on 62 villages in Northern Rakhine. Those who escape the fire have had to flee through a rain of bullets.
“The Australian Government must urgently work alongside the international community to halt what is justifiably being described as the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority by military forces,” said Mr McMillan.
To date over 410,000 Rohingya have been driven out of the country and into refugee camps at the Bangladeshi border. Before this mass exodus there was 1.1 million Rohingya people living in Myanmar.
Nobel Prize winner and defecto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, has drawn criticism for not condemning this military action against this ethnic minority.
Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said it was clear the violence must stop and the international community must act.
“There is a considerable level of expectation as to what Aung San Suu Kyi will say,” Ms Bishop told ABC radio as the international community awaited Suu Kyi’s national address on Tuesday 19 September.
The Australian Government has announced it will deliver $5 million in aid as a response to the emergency assistance needed in the region.
“We are thankful… [and] we encourage the Government to provide this and any further assistance it can to ensure that those fleeing this tragic situation have access to food, shelter and security for as long as is necessary,” said Mr McMillan of the announcement.
Mr McMillan echoed the calls from the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibhahim Abu Mohammed, for the government to increase the quota for the accepted arrival of Rohingya refugees into Australia
“Australia must do whatever we can to support those who have fled and who cannot return home.”
“I call on Uniting Church members to pray for our Rohingya brothers and sisters who are suffering and mourning the loss of lives.”
“May peace prevail and replace the hate and violence,” said Mr McMillan.
The Rohingya have been described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world that have been denied citizenship and therefore, state protection. Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.