NLD speaks out on boat people crisis (Mizzima (Burma))

The National League for Democracy (NLD) has issued a statement on 1 June addressing the issue of the boat people adrift off the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The party, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, have faced international criticism for failing to properly clarify their position on the issue.

The following is the statement in full:

The position of the National League for Democracy regarding the boat people

On a number of occasions in recent weeks, vessels carrying ‘boat people’ have been caught off the shores of Burma and some other ASEAN countries. There has been suffering due to a shortage of food and poor living conditions, and many instances of health problems. Some boat people have even lost their lives.

It has been estimated that the total number of boat people on the vessels that have been found may be in the tens of thousands. According to news reports, the majority are from Bangladesh, and some are from Burma. As a first priority, the safety of the boat people, and provision for their basic needs, must be ensured as quickly as possible. The problems that they are presently facing must be addressed with the assistance of the international community. The countries of origin of the boat people must be carefully checked and verified. It is seen that the issue of the boat people is related to the conflicts that took place in Rakhine State’s Buthitaung and Maungdaw townships around three years ago.

The problem of human trafficking must also be effectively addressed. Human trafficking is an issue of concern to the entire world, and the international community should come together to help resolve it. It is essential to track down and take action as quickly as possible against those individuals who are carrying out this trafficking. If there is a delay in taking action, the problem will only grow bigger.

The National League for Democracy , and the party’s Chairperson (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) , have consistently said that resolution of the communal conflict in Rakhine State should be founded on the principles of human rights, democracy and rule of law , and that inflammatory words and actions should be avoided. The NLD has always held strongly and unwaveringly to the path of non-violent politics in resolving difficulties. Situations must be carefully studied and delicately handled, taking a long­-term perspective.

There have been many speeches and statements issued with regard to the problems in Rakhine State, but words alone are not enough. Effective and sensitive action that takes all views into account is required.

In order both to resolve communal conflict in Rakhine State, and to prevent the emergence of more boat people in future, it will be necessary to:

Establish rule of law

Ensure border security

Eradicate corruption amongst the authorities in the border areas.

Ensure full and rapid access for humanitarian assistance to people in need.

Re-settle those living in IDP camps as quickly as possible.

Improve and develop the economic situation and welfare of the residents of the area.

Address the issue of citizenship fairly, transparently, and as quickly as possible.

To eradicate the problem of human trafficking and ensure a peaceful resolution of communal conflicts in Rakhine State, we must work courageously and consistently towards the goals of peace, harmony, human rights, and the emergence of democratic values. In doing so, regional governments, relevant international organisations and all domestic actors must work together.