Myanmar (Burma) is a home country to multi- religious and numerous ethnic groups with the population of more than 55 million whereas the Rohingya ethnic minority group is part of them. The Rohingya ethnic minority people are a distinct ethnic group who has been living in the coastal Arakan State of western Burma (Myanmar) from time immemorial with strong historical roots, cultural heritage, tradition and great civilization.
Under President Thein Sein led Myanmar’s complex political system in the course of democratic transitional period, the indigenous Rohingya ethnic minority people are the Prima Facie victims of the crime against humanity of persecution. The situation of the native Arakan Rohingya community as well as other Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) is tremendously worsening day to day. Systematic and widespread human rights abuses on regular basis against the Rohingya minority are continuously perpetrated by the Myanmar government officials and its security forces. Muslim Rohingyas are also subjected to genocide, modern-day-slavery, massive restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, religion, and to work, as well as the complete denial of their basic fundamental rights to education, health access and livelihoods under the context of non-citizen, stripping their bona fide citizenship status.
Under pre-planned promulgation of ethnic cleansings and genocidal actions of Burmese Government authorities in collaboration with active Rakhine-ultra nationalists, hundreds of Rohingya villages or settlements had been destroyed, tens of thousands Muslim houses has been razed, many Muslim owned business properties and outlets, Islamic religious centers, cultural and historical heritage has been burned down and destroyed from the year 2012.
Currently, more than 145,000 Rohingya population are being displaced and now living under apartheid-like conditions in the isolated and squalid concentration camps throughout Arakan State while many others living in a desperate situation of massive humanitarian crisis with segregation in restricted villages, more than 150,000 have fled the country to escape well-founded fear of persecutions, thousands of Rohingya and other Muslims were killed, many more have been victimized with torture, cruelties, arbitrary detention, forced labor, sexual violence, and other forms of serious physical persecution during the periods of ethnic cleansing and genocidal campaign targeted the Rohingya ethnic minority and other Muslims in Burma.
After decades of Burmese Government’s repressive and racist policies, the Rohingya ethnic minority are now often described as one of the most persecuted minorities and vulnerable people in the world. The most controversial and discriminatory 1982 citizenship law instituted by the former dictator general U Ne Win formally excluded the Rohingyas from the list of 135 officially recognized ethnic groups considered indigenous to the country of Myanmar (Burma). The President Thein Sein-led Burmese quasi-civilian government including senior NLD officials together with Rakhine Nationalist party leaders and extremists nowadays denying the existence of Rohingya and vehemently refuse even to acknowledge the term “Rohingya,” insisting that they are illegal intruders from neighboring Bangladesh and have no history in the country despite the facts that Rohingyas are an indigenous races of Burma having supporting, recognized and documented history, separate culture, tradition, civilization, language and literature.
In the face of continued persecution, severe restrictions on everything from marriage to childbirth, denying human rights to freedom of movement, intimidation, threats, forced displacement, extermination and mass atrocities amount to genocide, an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya population in Arakan State were unable to cast vote on November 08, 2015 historic Myanmar election and denying the Rohingya politicians to be part of the national democratic and political process, even the current sitting Rohingya Muslim MPs in the Myanmar Parliament have been barred from contesting again for re-election. Other Myanmar Muslim candidates who applied to run for parliament also were rejected from contesting on the grounds of their Islamic faith and religion. Neither the main opposition political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by democracy icon and human rights defender Daw Aung San Suu Kyi nor the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the ruling government’s political party led by President Thein Sein has fielded a single Muslim candidate in the 2015 national electoral process in the context of spreading anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide.
The roots of anti-Muslim campaigns are being developed by the so-called “969 Movement” led by controversial monk Ashin Wirathu and his extremist Buddhist radical group who has a direct link with the Burmese top military generals including President Thein Sein. There are undeniable facts that the successive military regimes and some Buddhist ultra-nationalists have implanted the seed of hatred in the mindset of the general Burmese public to dislike Muslims nationwide in Myanmar (Burma). The recent establishment of four controversial bills or four so-called Protection of Race and Religion laws championed by Myanmar’s powerful Buddhist nationalist group, locally known as Ma Ba Tha seen as targeting against the Myanmar’s Muslim minorities.
Hence, the future survival of the entire Muslims with rights, equality and dignity in Myanmar (Burma) particularly, the Rohingya minority and other Muslims in general are at great risk and limbo as they are victimized with multiple repression, suppression, discriminations, brutalities, segregation and inhumanities, at the hands of Burmese successive military regimes and finally, the President Thein Sein-led administrative officials, security forces, Rakhine political extremists and Buddhist radical monks. Both central Myanmar government and Rakhine State officials also deliberately excluded the Rohingya minority who are trapped inside displacement camps from any role in the state’s development, distribution of resource, and political representation due to differences of ethnicity and religious backgrounds.
In this circumstances, the Rohingya American Society (RAS) therefore, believes that it is the right time to focus on issues to bring an end of the plights of the Rohingya minority and all other suffering Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) by organizing the seminar.
The seminar on the topic of “2015 – Myanmar Election, Transition to Democracy, and the Plights of Muslim Minorities” was held on November 28, 2015 (Saturday) from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Rohingya American Society office building in Milwaukee city, Wisconsin State, USA.
The seminar was moderated by Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani, the Executive Director of the Rohingya American Society (RAS) and started the seminar with keynote speech from the honorable Rohingya Member of Parliament (MP) U Shwe Maung (alias) Abdul Razak who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
The other Guest speakers in the seminar includes are – Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid (The Chairperson of Burma Task Force & Council for a Parliament of World Religion), Shaykh Sa’ad Quadri (Imam of Masjid Al-Huda & Rights Activist), Dr. Syed G. Mohiuddin (The President of Masjid Al-Huda and Guidance Incorporation), Mr. Abdul Khalaque (Secretary General of World Rohingya Organization), and Maulana Jalal (Vice – Chairman of the Burmese Muslim Community of Fort Wayne -Indiana).
At the end of the seminar, a comprehensive resolution was adopted, made declaration as follows and that is released on the date of December 05, 2015 with expertise consultation.
- The Rohingya Muslim minority that identifies itself as the “Rohingya” is one of the indigenous communities of Arakan State-Burma. They were neither brought up by the British colonial administration since 1826 nor they entered illegally into Arakan from neighboring country Bangladesh after the Union of Burma (Myanmar) gained her independence in January 04, 1948. The Myanmar President U Thein Sein himself confessed in his interview with Voice of America (VOA) that it is very rare and there was no any illegal entry of foreigners from neighboring country Bangladesh (East Pakistan) after 1948 Burma independence.
- The Burma’s first founding President Sao Shwe Thaik who also led and organized the Panglong conference in March 1946 firmly stated that “Muslims of Arakan certainly belong to one of the indigenous races of Burma, in fact, there is no pure indigenous races in Burma, if they do not belong to indigenous races of Burma, and we also cannot be taken as indigenous races of Burma.
- The General Aung San, Father of today’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 1946 when his unification trip to Arakan assured full rights and privileges to Muslim Rohingyas as an indigenous people saying that “I give (offer) you a blank cheque. We will live together and die together. Demand what you want. I will do my best to fulfill them. If native people are divided, it will be difficult to achieve independence of Burma.”
- Under Article 3 of the Nu – Atlee Treaty of 17 October, 1947, and under section 11(i) (ii) (iii) the Constitution of the Union of Burma 1947, effected January 4, 1948, the native Rohingya ethnic minority people are bona fide citizens of Burma.
- Being one of the indigenous races of Burma, the Rohingya Muslim community have been enfranchised in all national elections held in Burma from British colonial rule up to 2010 such as, the “Di-Archy” system was replaced by a ruling system called “91 Tana” 91 Departments Administration election (1936), General Aung San’s Constituent Assembly election (1947), all elections during democratic Parliamentary rule (1952, 1956, 1960), U Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) constitutional referendum (1974) and SLORC military Multi-Party Democracy election (1990), Military SPDC’s constitutional referendum (2008) and its Multi-Party election (2010). In the 2010 general election, the Rohingya people in Arakan State elected five (5) Rohingya MPs in the Upper and Lower house of Parliament, and Rakhine State Assembly under the banner of ruling USDP government led by President Thein Sein. In all their exercise of franchise from 1936 to 2010, there were Rohingya MPs, Cabinet Ministers, and Parliamentary Secretaries respectively. It is a noteworthy to mention that citizens whose parents hold FRCs (Foreign Registration Cards) are not eligible to run for any public office. But, The Rohingya voters and politicians effectively disenfranchised from the November 08, 2015 Myanmar historic election. Neither the ruling USDP nor NLD has nominated a single Muslim candidate for parliament in the first 2015 democratic and national election process.
- In 1795, Francis Buchanan met Rohingyas in Ava, the then capital of Burma who were taken by Burmese king Bodaw. He was attached as surgeon, to Captain Michael Symes’ Embassy to Ava, Burma. He wrote in his account in 1799” A comparative vocabulary of some of the language, spoken in the Burma Empier,” Asiatic Researches, Vol. 5 page 219-242 about the language of Burma proper and Arakan. British doctor Francis Buchanan “the first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who called themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.
- Rohingya political, social, educational, and cultural organizations were duly recognized and approved by the Burmese proper Authorities for registration. For example, the Rangoon University Rohingya Students Association was one of the ethnic student Associations that functioned from 1959 to 1961 under the Registration Numbers 113/99 December, 1959 and 7/60 September, 1960 respectively. The Burma Election Commission of military- led Burmese government also granted permission the Rohingya people to form political parties such as National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPH), Students and Youth League for Mayyu Development (Arakan), National Ethnic Reformation Party, Amyothar (National) Party, and Indigenous Collaboration Party during the year of 1989- 1990. Again, the Burmese Government under the term of State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) granted permission the Rohingya political candidates to from political parties such as National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) founded in 2010, National Development and Peace Party (NDPP) founded in 2010, and Democracy Party for Human Rights (DHRP) founded in 2012.
- The previous democratic parliamentary government of Burma had recognized the Rohingya people as an indigenous ethnic group of Burma. For example; on 25 September 1954, at 8 p.m. the first Prime Minister U Nu declared Rohingya as an indigenous race of Burma in his radio speech. Rohingya language was aired by the official Burmese Broadcasting Services (BBS) from the date of 15 May 1961 to 30 October 1965 from the indigenous program. Mr. Kalim Ullah (alias) U Ba Tun (B.A., B.L.) was the news caster. (See: Page (71)” Voice of Myanmar in 30 years” Written by U Kyaw Nyein, the Director of Ministry of Information, Burma)
- On the date of November 03 and 04, 1959, Defense Minister and Prime Minister U Ba Swe made public speeches to the mass public rallies in Maung Daw and Buthidaung Townships of Arakan State. There, it was assured the public that “The Rohingyas are equal in every way with other minority races like the Shan, Chin, Kachine, Kayin, Kayah, Mon and Rakhine. They have lived in Myanmar Niang Ngan for ages, according to historical facts. They are of the Islamic faith. There is historical evidence that they have lived faithfully and harmoniously with other races of the Union”.
- In his speech, Brigadier U Aung Gyi, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Union of Burma at Maung Daw on the date of July 04, 1961 at the ceremony of the resistance group who were fighting in the name of revolution since the independence of Burma profoundly stated that “the Rohingya people are an indigenous race in Burma same as other ethnic groups such as Shan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Mon, Kayah and Rakhine.”
- Under the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act and 1951 Residents of Burma Registration Rules, The Rohingya people were issued Burmese NRC (National Registration Cards), which itself is a proof of their bona fide citizenship and nationality since foreigners were excluded from the issuance of such cards. [The issuance of the NRC to Rohingyas was stopped by the late General U Ne Win’s military regime after 1962].
- U Nu’s democratic government granted local autonomy to the Rohingya nationals and declared establishment of the Mayu Frontier Administration (MFA), a special frontier district ruled directly by the central government in the year 1961, May 30, which was abolished on February 01, 1964 by General U Ne Win. [It is worth mentioning here that initially, General U Ne Win recognized the Rohingyas as an indigenous race and citizens of Burma.) Dr. Shwe Lu Maung (alias) Shah Nawaz Khan, The Price of Silence)].
- “Sarpy Beikman” is a Burmese Government’s controlled publishing house. Government censored well its publications. In its publication, especially Myanmar Encyclopedia Vol.9, 1964, on page 89, the narration was given in details concerning the Rohingya people and their Burmese nationals.
- Khityae Sasaung, a bulletin of Defense Ministry, in its Volume Number 12, No. 6 and 9 dated 18/7/61 and 8/8/61 respectively, carried out long stories concerning the Rohingya people. It described Arakan, a place of Rohingya majority where some minorities, like Khami, Mru, Dainet and Rakhine, too reside.
- The High School Textbook of Geography which printed in 1978 by the Ministry of Education, Government of Burma in (BSPP) rules led by General U Ne Win indicates minority settlements in Northern Arakan where the majority Rohingya people lived.
- The historian Moshe Yegar writes, “The Rohingyas preserved their own heritage from the impact of the Buddhist environment not only as far as their religion is concerned but also, in some aspects of their culture.” [The Muslims of Burma: A Study of a Minority Group, p.25].
- Rohingya people were recruited in Army, Navy and Police forces as loyal Burmese citizens to defend the country and people of Burma from 1948 to 1962.
- The View of World Famous Burmese Historian Professor Dr. Than Tun On Rohingya Muslim, “The ‘Kyaukza’ of 1442 C.E.”
In the “Kyaukza” stone inscription serial No.963/20-23-804- Burmese Era 1442 C.E.there is indication of Muslim King’s reign of Arakan in 14th century who were friends of Burmese Kings and used to visit them. The Kings of Arakan had Muslim titles. If they were not Muslim Kings mentioned in the inscription, the Muslim Kings of Arakan might be Rohingya Muslim Kings, from the Mayu river valley, the eastern of the Naf River. Rohingyas claim their existence there of over thousands years. If not thousands years, their existence might be from the time of 1202 C.E. When the Muslims conquered Bengal that is 800 years. (Dr. Than Tun, Kalya Magazine August 1994, Pages 27-28,with the reference of Luce, G.H.”K’yan(chin)” Mru and K’umi (N. Arakan)”, Phases of Pre-Pagan Burma, Languages History, Oxford, SoAS, 1985,76-97).
- In the Burmese transliteration of the 8th century Anandasanda Stone Pillar inscription in the ancient capital city of Mrauk-U, the use of Rohingya words like Arakandesh (Arakan country), Raza (King), Kam (Job), etc., testify to the rich cultural heritage of the Rohingya people in Arakan. [Dr. Saw Tun Aung: Shittaung Phara Stone Pillar’s Northern Side Inscription. Rakhine Welfare Association’s 25th Anniversary Magazine, pp. 48-53].
- In its “Position Paper on Persecution of Muslims in Arakan State “dated September 24, 1992, submitted to the United Nations, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma – NCGUB (Exile Government) that was led by Dr. Sein Win, cousin of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi affirmed that:
– Muslim Rohingyas have been living in Arakan for centuries,
– Muslim Rohingyas are Burmese citizens,
– Muslim Rohingyas have the same rights and privileges as other citizens of Burma regardless of their ethnic beliefs or ethnic background.
- In Myanmar Swe Zon Kyan [Myanmar Encyclopedia] Vol.9, page 90 it says “Of the 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants of Mayu Border District 75% are Rohingya ethnic people who are Muslims. The rest are made up of Rakhine, Dai Nat, Myo, and Kamee. Generally, agriculture and fishing are their main economic activities.” (Myanmar Encyclopedia, Volume 9, P. 90, Government Printing House, Rangoon, 1964.”
- From 1430 A.D. Arakan was ruled by the Muslims. (The arrival of Islam in Burma by Zaya Kyaw Tin U Ba Shin P.5). Muslim kingdom of Arakan was independent in the 14th and 15th (Time Atlas of the world history, edited in 1979 by Geoffrey Barraclough P. 33).
According to Burmese history by U Kyi, History of Bassein by U Maung Aung and Burma Encyclopedia Vol. 6, Islam came to Burma since A.D. 800. Three Muslim dynasties ruled the country during A.D 1222.
- Democratic icon and Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – led the National League for Democracy (NLD) which got resounding victory in the November 08, 2015 election with more than 80% seats in the lower and upper house of Myanmar parliament, issued Membership Registration Cards of her NLD party to Rohingya people under the term of “Rohingya ethnicity” in 1990.
- The above evidences, historical facts and recommendations strongly confirm that the Rohingyas are original native people of Arakan and bona fide citizens of Myanmar (Burma). Yet, they are not tolerated and are systematically excluded and rendered stateless in their homeland through controversial and racist 1982 citizenship law. This 1982 Burma Citizenship Law is the most restrictive citizenship law in the world instituted by the late dictator U Ne Win’s BSPP regime on October 15, 1982. It directly violates several fundamental principles of international customary law standards, offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leaves the Rohingya people exposed without any legal protection of their rights. It is conflicting government’s obligation to fulfill the rights of the child as stipulated by Article 7 (1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 which states that the Child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right to a name, and to acquire a nationality. The Burmese government ratified this convention in 1991 and is obliged to grant citizenship to Rohingyas.
It also noted that the 1982 Citizenship Law violates:
- Article 24 (3) of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 also states,
“Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.”
- Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEADAW), 1979,
- Article 5 (d) (iii) of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965.
The 1982 Burma Citizenship Law promotes discrimination against the native Rohingya people by arbitrarily depriving them of their Burmese (Myanmar) citizenship. The deprivation of one’s nationality is not only a serious violation of human rights but also an international crime. So, it needs immediately to repeal or amend this 1982 citizenship law in line with the international standards and guidelines.
- The 1982 Burma Citizenship Law which has effectively declared the Rohingya people as “non-national”, is not compatible with the United Nations and international laws recognizing inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Through its discriminatory laws and practices against the Rohingya people, the government of Myanmar is in violation of each and every Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), making the Rohingya as “un-wanted” people of the 21st century who immediately needs the protection of their basic fundamental human rights.
- It is also known to the world that the Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law completely violates the Burma Union Citizenship Act, 1948 at the time Burma achieved its independence from Britain, which said “Any person descended from ancestors who for two generations at least have all made any of the territories included within the Union their permanent home and whose parents and himself were born in any of such territories shall be deemed to be a citizen of the Union.” In this context, the Muslim Rohingya people of Arakan are very much concerned and strongly to mention that they have been living in Arakan from generation to generation since 8th century A.D. to till today with evident historical background and recognized status of indigenous Burmese citizens and therefore, they have the same rights and privileges as other ethnic nationalities of Burma regardless of their ethnic belief or ethnic background.
- The statements from Rakhine political party leaders such as Dr. Aye Maung, U Aye Thar Aung, and U Oo Hla Saw, President U Thein Sein-led current Myanmar quasi civilian government officials such as U Ye Htut, U Zaw Htay, and Defense Commander-in-chief of Myanmar U Myint Aung Hlaing, NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win and MP U Win Htein, U Khin Maung Swe from National Democratic Front, some ultra-Buddhist nationalists such as Ashin Wirathu and U Pa Maukka, Rakhine historians like Dr. Aye Chan, and U Khin Maung Saw (Berlin), and including 8888 student movement leader Ko Ko Gyi have been deceptive, hypocritical, great blunder and unacceptable of their consistently denying the Rohingya existence and historical rights of Rohingya’s Bona fide citizenship of Burma (Myanmar). The denial of Rohingya Muslim minority as a bona fide ethnic group of Burma is surely not mirrored through historical and legal perspective. Rather it is purely fascism, racism and complete discrimination against the native Rohingya people. Ending this kind of blunder, bigoted and mala fide statements from the leading majority political groups, and protecting the rights of Rohingya and other minorities are so necessary components of Myanmar’s move toward the real democracy where the minorities’ rights must be guaranteed based on Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and international treaties. The continued denying and refusal of the Rohingyas’ legal rights and historical existence by the Myanmar (Burma) government means the total annihilation of entire Rohingya population from the soil of Arakan-Burma (Myanmar).
- The leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Burma’s human rights advocate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who secured the vast majority votes with more than 80% seats in the 2015 Myanmar election had promised to support the citizenship rights of the Rohingya Muslims in 2005; she gave the above statement in response to Dr. Shaik Ubaid’s query on a BBC program. (Note: – Dr. Shaikh Ubaid is a professional Medical Doctor and he has been advocating the cause of Rohingya since 1992 to present. He lives in New York City-USA).
- The National League for Democracy (NLD) organized a mass meeting on 28-29 July, 1990 at the Gandhi Hall in Rangoon’s Bo Aung Gyaw Street to celebrate 1990’s landslide election victory. At the meeting, the Rohingya was duly recognized as an indigenous ethnic group of Burma (Myanmar) which was declared by U Chit Khine in his Secretary’s report. (Source; The Lady of Destiny – Page -50).
- While campaigning for election in 2015, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed allegations of “genocide” targeting the Muslim Rohingya saying “it is very important” not to “exaggerate the problems” in Myanmar. “I promise everybody who is living in this country (Myanmar) proper protection in accordance with the law, and in accordance with the norms of human rights,” she said. (Source of Al Jazeera).
- The history and civilization of the Rohingyas of Arakan, as outlined above in brief, particularly, the statements of five distinguished national leaders of Burma (Myanmar), First President of Burma Sao Shwe Thaik, General Aung San, former Prime Minister U Nu, former Defense Minister and Prime Minister U Ba Swe, and Brigadier General U Aung Gyi, unambiguously and unequivocally have made it evident that:
*— the arrival of Rohingyas in Arakan has predated the arrival of many other people and races now residing in Arakan and in other parts of Burma,
*— the Rohingyas are natives of Arakan and constitute one of the many indigenous races of Burma, such as the Shan, Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Mon and Rakhine, now inhabiting Arakan and other parts of Burma and finally,
*— by history, by culture, by tradition and by civilization, the Rohingyas are as much citizens of Burma as anyone else in that country, Burma (Myanmar).
Besides the previous Burmese Democratic Government’s Recognition, Historical References and Endorsements,
“What Others Say About the Rohingya People”
(Remarks of US President, Mr. Barack Obama)
“Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there. For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution. But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people. And the Rohingya hold themselves-hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.” (November 19, 2012 at the Yangon University)
During a private meeting with President Thein Sein, Mr. Obama used the word “ROHINGYA” multiple times and also said that discrimination against the Rohingya wasn’t consistent with the kind of country Myanmar wants to become. “Ultimately that is destabilizing to a democracy. (Thursday, November 12, 2014)
In a round-table meeting and discussion with 15 members from Myanmar civil societies and communities including Rohingya MP U Shwe Maung at the U.S. Embassy in Yangon on November 14, 2014, the President Obama said that ethnic Rohingyas are not illegal immigrants that they are from Myanmar, they have been living in Myanmar since a very long time ago and they need to be accepted as citizens of Myanmar. (According to MP U Shwe Maung’s post on Facebook and Twitter.)
In an interview with the Irrawaddy magazine, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about the treatment of Rohingya and other Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country and would press government officials on the importance of respecting rights for all.
(Remarks of United Nations and its Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon)
The United Nations which is represented by 193 member countries have called the Rohingya as “one of the world’s most persecuted minority groups on earth. They have been denied citizenship and many other basic human rights by the national government in Burma, and in the last 2-years have been hunted down by Buddhist extremists and chased from their homes. More than 140,000 live in crowed, unsanitary camps, unable to pass police check points to leave without paying hefty bribes. The UN General Assembly and also its Human Rights Committee called on Myanmar Government on many occasions to provide “full citizenship” rights to the Rohingya Muslim minority and allow them to move freely throughout the country. The U.N. resolution also urged the government of Myanmar to allow Muslim minority to call itself “Rohingya” and not Bengali, as the government insists. The United Nations also asked Myanmar government to ensure that the Rohingyas have equal access to service such as health and education, and to address the root causes of violence and discrimination against them. It also called on the Myanmar government to take measures to ensure that the Rohingyas can safely return to their communities, to conduct independent investigations into right abuses, and to promote peaceful coexistence. On Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee criticized Myanmar government for its treatment of the nation’s Rohingya Muslim minority and urged the Southeast Asian country to change its citizenship rules to make Rohingya full citizens.
The non-binding draft resolution, co-sponsored by the European nations, the United States and other Western countries, was adopted by consensus during a meeting of the 193-nation Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights. The resolution said the assembly “reiterates its serious concern about the situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine State and other minorities subject to marginalization and instances of human rights violations and abuses.” It also added that the assembly “calls upon the government of Myanmar to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals, including belonging to the Rohingya minority.” The Rohingya people should have full citizenship on an equal basis and related rights in Myanmar.
In prepared remarks, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, “it is important for the Myanmar authorities to take the necessary steps to address the legitimate grievances of minority communities, including the citizenship demands of the Muslim/Rohingya in Rakhine.” The UN Chief Mr. Ban Ki-moon also criticized the government’s response to the sectarian crisis, saying President Thein Sein must take “concrete action” to punish the perpetrators of the violence and reduce tensions that led to the unrest. (Wednesday, July 11, 2013 at U.N. Headquarters)
- “Regrettably, recent steps by the Government risk to further fan flames of the communal divide, the Secretary General warned, referring to the recent enactment of four so-called race and religion protection laws” propagated by Wirathu and a Buddhist nationalist movement.”
- “Addressing the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims, who earlier this year had their suffrage rights revoked, Ban said, authorities must ensure that all those who were able to vote in previous elections retain those rights.”
– “The revocation of white cards is a step in the wrong direction, Ban said, referring to temporary identity cards that allowed them to vote in previous polls. I am deeply disappointed this effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities. Barring incumbent Rohingya Parliamentarians from standing for re-election is particularly egregious.”
- “For many Rohingya who cast ballots in the past, losing their ability to vote is just the latest in the erosion of their basic rights. In Rakhine, I am appalled by the humanitarian conditions of the Rohingya and Kaman communities, Ban said, pointing out that those circumstances ultimately led to a regional refugee crisis.” (September 24, 2015 at the UN General Assembly in New York City).
(Remark of OIC Secretary General, Iyad Amin Madani)
These events (violence against Rohingya), violate the basic rights of the Rohingya Muslims to be protected as citizens and as a minority by their own government. They also represent a grave violation of Myanmar Government’s international commitments to protect civilians.
(Remark of Nobel Peace Prize winner & Educational Activist MALALA- YOUSAFZAI)
“I call on the leaders of Myanmar and the world to take immediate action to halt the inhuman persecution of Burma’s Muslim minority Rohingya people,” Malala said in a statement released by Malala Fund on June 08, 2015.
“The Rohingyas deserve citizenship in the country where they were born and have lived for generations.” “They deserve equal rights and opportunities. They deserve to be treated like we all deserve to be treated – with dignity and respect. Today and every day, I stand with the Rohingyas, and I encourage people everywhere to do so.”
(Remark of Djibouti’s U.N. Ambassador Roble Olhaye)
Djibouti’s U. N. Ambassador Roble Olhaye, representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that the Rohingya live in “permanent segregation in what amounts to ethnic cleansing.”
(Remark of Saudi Arabian U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Yahya al-Mouallemi)
Burma cannot rejoin the community of democratic nations if it doesn’t protect minority rights. “it is not enough to just have elections, you have to end the killings and persecutions. The Saudi Arabian Ambassador also said the Rohingyas are barred from citizenship, work, travel, religious practice, and even the proper burial of their dead.
Remark of Pope Francis: Burmese Treatment of Rohingya minority a form of “war”
In an article released on August 07, 2015 in the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis spoke of the gross injustices against the Rohingya while with a group of youth at the Vatican City and saying sharply that “Burmese treatment of its populous and persecuted Rohingya minority constitutes war against them.”
He continued said, “Let’s think of those brothers of ours of the Rohingya… They were chased from one country and from another and from another…When they arrived at a port or a beach, they gave them a bit of water or a bit to eat and were there chased out to the sea.”
“This is a conflict that has not resolved, and this is war, this is called violence, this is called killing.”
Remark of Rt Hon. John Bercow (Speaker of the British House of Commons) at the University of Yangon, Myanmar on 1 August, 2013
“I call upon the Government, and Parliament, urgently to review and revise the 1982 Citizenship Law, to bring it in line with international human rights norms. I call for a genuinely independent analysis of the Rohingya people’s history in Burma, so that misunderstandings can be corrected, misinformation countered and prejudices addressed….”
Remark of Former Malaysian Prime Minister & President of PGPF Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
Myanmar should be expelled from ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) membership for committing genocide of the Rohingya people. The former Malaysian Prime Mister said the Rohingya had been a part of Myanmar for over 800 years and it was against the law to expel the Rohingya people from Myanmar based on their origin. He said if Malaya back then, could accept those who were brought in by the British colonialists, Myanmar should also accept the Rohingya.
In his delivering keynote speech at the “Plight of the Rohingya, Crime Against Humanity” International conference organized by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) at the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 12 June, 2015, Dr. Mahathir said ASEAN governments as well as the United Nations (UN) should act against Myanmar. “Countries like these only give us (ASEAN) a bad name. So, if Myanmar continues to keep committing genocide against its people, Rohingyas, leave Asean. Myanmar does not believe in treating its own minority fairly and justly. (Source, “The Star Online – 13 June 2015)
Remark of Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid on Rohingya Genocide
Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, the Chairman of Burma Task Force (BTF) and speaker in the conference organized by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) at the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said that the crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas are well-documented. It is a text book case of Genocide. Hence, if the heads of the Myanmar State can’t be tried under ICC, they have to be prosecuted in War Crimes Tribunal like the leaders of former Yugoslavia were.
Remark of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, Professor at Harvard University
“The Rohingya did not come to Burma.
But Burma came to the Rohingya.”
Remark of 7 Nobel Peace Laureates at Oslo Conference on the Rohingya on 28 May, 2015 (Oslo, Norway)
“What Rohingyas are facing is a textbook case of genocide in which an entire indigenous community is being systematically wipe out by the Burmese government.”
Remark of the Dalai Lama on Myanmar’s Persecuted Rohingya
The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist faith and prominent international figure gave an interview to the Australian newspaper on May 28, 2015. In it, he appeals to Myanmar’s world -famous Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy advocate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (DASSK) to publicly speak out against a horrific violation of human rights rippling outward from her country: the unceasing persecution of the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority group. He also pointed out that the world could not continue to ignore the plight of the Rohingya minority.
Remark of former UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana
In his 2012 report to the UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana emphasized his particular concern at the “endemic discrimination” faced by the Rohingya, and called for the government to “review and amend laws and policies that deny the Rohingya community its fundamental human rights”. The Special Rapporteur cited the urgent need to resolve the legal status of the many Rohingya who have been relegated to statelessness, including by revision of the Citizenship Act 1982.He repeated this in his 2013 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Remark of Exchange during a general debate in the House of Commons in UK on the Rohingya
(Hansard: 09 Jun, 2015)
Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Conservative): The Burmese Government often give the impression that the Rohingya people are not really Burmese. Will my right hon. Friend (British Foreign Minister Mr. Hugo Swire), the Minister for Asia confirm that the Foreign office has seen a map from the 18th century that confirms very clearly that the Rohingya people were part of Burma at the time and that this has been shared with the Burmese Government?
British Foreign Minister Mr. Hugo Swire (Minister of State FCO): My hon. Friend (Mr. Richard Graham) is absolutely right. We have got charts, which we have shared with the Burmese Government, and they show very clearly that there were Muslims, as they are described in the ledger, going right back to the 18th century. It is absolutely certain, as far as we are concerned, that the Rohingya have been in Rakhine for many, many years.
British Research Institute Report on Rohingya
“BRITISH RESEARCH INSTITUTE REPORT SAYS ROHINGYA FACE GENOCIDE COMPARABLE TO NAZI ERA”
Myanmar’s Rohingya minority population is in “the final stages of a genocidal process” comparable to that in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the 1990s. and attacks against them are planned at the highest levels of government, according to report from a British Research Institute.
With just weeks until the country holds its landmark election on November 08, 2015, the report says, the result of an 18-months investigation by the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) at Queen Mary University of London, found “compelling evidence” that Rohingya face” mass annihilation” by the government of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and that a genocide has been taking place for three decades.
The 106-page report includes evidence from leaked government documents and detailed accounts from witnesses about the severe lack of food and employment opportunities; difficulties trying to obtain health care; and discrimination and violence from Buddhist monks and non-Muslim villagers.
The report also says, the Rohingya, a roughly 1.1 million-strong Muslim minority group living in Myanmar, are denied basic human rights in the country, where officials are working to remove their presence from the country’s history. Human rights violations against the Rohingya include rape, torture, killings, arbitrary detention and confiscation of land, while ghettoization, sporadic massacres and limits against their freedom of movement amount “to a longer-term strategy by the state to isolate, weaken and eliminate the group,” the report says.
“It’s really important to construct genocide as a social process, because if we don’t, we can never intervene before mass killing takes place, “Penny Green, a professor of law and globalization at Queen Mary University of London and lead researcher of the report tells Newsweek. She added that the elections “reinforce the elimination of the Rohingya from the political realm of responsibility of Myanmar.” (Newsweek – 10/29/2015)
Now, understanding the above declarations, reviewing the historical references and remarks, the participants of the United States seminar therefore, call upon the Myanmar (Burma) Government the following demands: –
- To immediately amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law to restore full-fledge citizenship to the Rohingya minority on the same basis as the 135 other ethnic groups. The Myanmar government should furthermore sign and ratify the 1954 Convention relating to the status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and fulfil its international obligation to prevent statelessness of all affected people.
- To stop systematic persecution, discrimination, torture, silent killing, and dehumanizing of innocent Rohingya people and other Muslim minority, including abolishing laws and policies that institute or contribute to the constant persecution of Muslims and other targeted groups within Myanmar (Burma).
- To release all innocent Rohingya and other Muslim prisoners who are being in detention and/ or imprisonment on fabricated charges or false accusation by the police and Burmese security forces.
- To immediately stop all kinds of restriction on movement, marriage, education, employment, and religious practices of the Rohingya people,
- To rehabilitate all the Rohingya people and other minority Muslims to their original places assisting them with appropriate financial compensation by both Union and Rakhine State governments, so that, the Rohingya people can reintegrate back into their society.
- To allow United Nations’ sponsored international independent investigation team including to open OIC office to monitor ongoing slow-burning genocide as well as the treatment of Rohingya and other Muslims minority in the Rakhine State of Burma.
- To immediately stop the criminal activities, anti-Muslim campaign and promoting religious intolerance of Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his 969 radical movement, and punish them for causing unlimited suffering towards the minority Muslims of Burma.
- The Union and Rakhine State government must take initiative for peaceful dialogue between the Rohingya people and Rakhines for genuine peaceful co-existence creating a congenial atmosphere in the region of Arakan to avoid further communal violence.
The participants of the seminar also call upon the international community such as the United Nations (UN), European Union countries, Asian and Southeast ASEAN countries, Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC and its member countries, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), international Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), Civil Societies and communities and Human Rights Organizations of the world including the United States Government to exert more positive pressure with all available means on the current President Thein Sein-led Myanmar (Burma) quasi-civilian government and including in the shape of new democratic government which would be formed in March, 2016 by the National League for Democracy (NLD) under the leadership of Nobel Peace Laureate and democratic icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to restore full-fledge citizenship and basic fundamental human rights of the Rohingya people as well as to coordinate peace and promote reconciliation between the Rohingyas and Rakhine people, so that, the Rohingya ethnic minority people can survive with rights and human dignity as the same as other Burmese ethnic population in the civil society of new democratic environment of the Union of Myanmar (Burma).
Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani
On behalf of Organizing Committee
[United States Seminar]
Milwaukee City, State of Wisconsin, USA.
Presided by: –
Rohingya American Society (RAS)