Burma Times. 08 March 2015 Joint statement
We undersigned Rohingya organizations strongly condemns Dr. Jacques Lieder, advisor to the UN resident coordinator in Burma Ms. Rentala Lok-Dessallien, for asking innocent Rohingya villagers intricate and irrelevant questions about history and ethnic origin in the Community Service Centre (CSC) of Alethan Kyaw village of Maungdaw township on 23 February 2015.
Dr. Lieder’s questions were not constructive and helpful to the oppressed and persecuted indigenous Rohingya minority of Arakan. Apparently it was an attempt to establish his distorted writings on the subject of Rohingya ethnicity.
Dr. Lieder asked the people why former Prime Minister U Nu’s Health and Education Minister Mr. Sultan Mahmud called the Muslims of Arakan as ”Arakanese Muslims”. This is an irresponsible question which he should not ask the simple villagers as a UN official. As a historian, of course he knows that the name ‘Arakan’ was given by British colonialists and as such the Muslims living in Arakan were called ‘Arakanese Muslims’ after the place name of Arakan. We are concerned that such questions are being asked with ulterior motives.
The Rohingya have an indisputably long history living in Arakan as an ethnic group who emerged from peoples of different ethnical backgrounds over a period of centuries. They have been living in a well-defined geographical territory in North Arakan and they have a distinct language, culture and civilization of their own. Yet, they are constantly denied recognition of this basic identity and, instead, they have been targets of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and persecution by successive military governments, extremist Rakhine Buddhists and other vested interest groups. The persistent denial of their identity together with unending targeting amounts to a policy of extermination. Most recently, their rights to vote and to stand for elected office – which they exercised in all elections held in the country before and after the independence of Burma until the last general election of 2010 – have been taken away, making them in effect illegal in their own homeland. Remarkably, Dr. Lieder, as a UN officer responsible for Arakan affairs, reportedly did not even mention a word of concern over this serious issue or the deteriorating situation.
It is unethical and dangerous that Dr. Lieder posed sensitive questions asking innocent villagers about Rohingya armed group leaders and, at the same time, enquired which organizations they support from among the existing Rohingya organizations inside and outside the country. It appears that he is echoing the false allegations from hostile Rakhines, with troublemaker Dr. Aye Maung and extremist Buddhists led by ultranationalist Buddhist monks that the Rohingya do not exist in Burma, that they are Bengalis, and that their so-called armed groups are carrying on violent activities against the native Buddhist communities.
Therefore, we demand that Dr. Lieder stops making such intellectual harassment of the innocent Rohingya villagers, and placing them at risk. We also urge the UN Secretary General and UN Resident Coordinator to take action against Dr. Jacques Lieder for his unrelated, controversial activities and to replace him with an unbiased officer who will work carefully and professionally in the interests of reconciliation, human rights, peace and development.
Signatories to this joint Statement;
- Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
- Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
- Burmese Rohingya Community in Netherlands
- Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
- Bradford Rohingya Community in UK
- Rohingya Community in Germany
- Rohingya Community in Switzerland
- Rohingya Organisation Norway
- Rohingya Community in Sweden
- Rohingya Community in Finland
For more information please contact;
Nurul Islam + 44 7947854652
Nay San Lwin +49 1796535213