Thursday, October 25, 2012
Muslim leader calls for Burmese government action to end Rakhine violence
Posted 25 October 2012, 21:39 AEST
At least five people have died, eighty people injured, with hundreds of homes set on fire.
Widespread violence broke out in Rakhine last June, killing at least 90 people and displacing tens of thousands of Rohingyas.
Abu Tahay, a Rohingya community leader in Rangoon, says the violence was incited by extremists who want to kick the Muslim Rohingyas out of Rakhine state.
Mr Abu Tahay adds that Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi should NOT remain silent on the matter, being a national icon.
Presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: Abu Tahay, Muslim Rohingya community leader and head of political affairs, the National Democratic Party for Development in Burma
ABU TAHAY: Five townships are already affected by violence created by the Rakhine people. The total of Rohingya villages (affected) are twelve villages already affected - all are Rohingyas, all the houses that were abandoned are Rohingya houses.
LAM: What is the local police doing - are they trying to bring peace and stability to the area?
ABU TAHAY: No, local police are taking part, to instigate violence against (sic) the two communities, such as Rakhine and Rohingyas.
But only the military personnel tried to protect the Rohingya people, but not good enough, to protect these innocent people.
LAM: So the Burmese military is trying to protect the local Rohingyas?
ABU TAHAY: Yes. And at the same time, the Rakhine people started burning down the houses of not only one location but at a few locations simultaneously.
LAM: When you say the 'Rakhine people', do you mean the local Buddhist Rakhine?
ABU TAHAY: Er, local Buddhist Rakhine and some strangers, Rakhine from other places, some Bengali Rakhine from the Bangladesh, so members of the Arakan Liberation Army, who are trying to establish an independent Rakhine nation. Because of racism, they want to establish an independent Rakhine nation, without the Muslim community. They don't want to establish a sharing and caring society, between these two communities.
LAM: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader of the NLD, the National league for Democracy, says the situation in Rakhine is so volatile, because of the total absence of rule of law. Do you agree with her?
ABU TAHAY: Not only the absence of rule of law - there's some action also to do. The government must have the responsibility according to our constitution and law, to establish the rule of law, not to victimise these Rohingya people, in the process of democracy. They're trying to make peace and stability in the Rakhine state, but it's not good enough to do so.
I may be in Yangon (Rangoon) but I have, almost every hour, contact with the families of these sufferers - everywhere. Then they can show themselves all Islam and Muslims are not extremists. They're the peace-loving people in the world. This was created by some racist people and politicians, to segregate the Rohingya people from Burmese society.
LAM: What do you think the government in Naypyidaw should do? What would you like the government to do?
ABU TAHAY: First, the government should stop the violence urgently. Second, they should focus on the criminal law. Then they have to educate and respect human rights declarations.
LAM: Have you tried speaking to the opposition NLD, to get support from the National League for Democracy of Aung San Suu Kyi?
ABU TAHAY: Yes, I have tried a few times to discuss face-to-face, with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but I didnt get the chance. Previously, she was busy with the by-election. Now, she's sitting in the parliament. She has the obligation to do something and to say something to the Burmese society, including the Rohingya people, because she's the democratic icon of our country.
Secondly, she's the Nobel Peace Laureate, and the daughter of the national leader or national hero, General... (line fades)
LAM: General Aung San, her father?
ABU TAHAY: Yes, the national hero of our country. He had already resolved the Rohingya issue in 1946, assuring these Muslim people are ethnic people of this country. Secondly, he'd also agreed with the national leader of Pakistan, Mr Jinnah in 1947, that these Rohingya people and Muslims are Burmese nationals. Then he had made an agreement with the British prime minister, that all Muslim communities are granted as nationals of these country. That is why, Aung San Suu Kyi has the obligation.
Also, in government, i believe there're two groups of people. One group believes in resolving the Rohingya issue for the future political process of this country. But some believe in racism.
LAM: So you're saying there are racist people in government?
ABU TAHAY: Yes, yes.