Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Migrants at Sea Off Coast of Myanmar

May 22, 2015

UUSC is monitoring the plight of stateless Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in Southeast Asia and is deeply saddened to see the Myanmar government’s continued failure to acknowledge discrimination against this ethnic Muslim minority in Rakhine State. We note that the government will be attending a regional meeting to resolve this great crisis, and we hope that this serves as a catalyst for necessary deep reforms focused on providing Rohingya minorities with protection and full rights of citizenship as well as laying the groundwork for holding those responsible for their persecution accountable.

Myanmar’s modern history has been marred by government-supported oppression, ethnic conflict, and military cronyism. Ethnic minorities have struggled against the central government for identity and autonomy, which has led to a battle over the control of land and resources as well as the deep suppression of basic human rights. Misunderstanding, hate propaganda against minorities, deep poverty, orchestrated violence, and lack of education have led to further outbreaks of fighting in conflict-affected ethnic areas, where daily life continues to be heavily influenced by the military, local ethnic armies, Chinese migrants, foreign investors, and drug lords.

UUSC has been working in Myanmar since 2002, including during the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Irrawaddy Delta and affected 2.4. million people in 2008. UUSC’s work in Myanmar has turned into a longer-term effort with several peace-oriented projects after the country’s transition to civilian rule. UUSC’s work has focused on emergency disaster relief, empowering ethnic minorities, and working with farmers to understand and protect land rights and their livelihoods. More recently, UUSC has also been working with partners focused on promoting religious harmony and cultural tolerance.

Stay tuned for more updates on our work in Myanmar.

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