Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Rohingya Problem: How To Solve? – Speech

August 31, 2012
By Dr. Habib Siddiqui
[Note: Conference Closing speech delivered at the International Conference on “Contemplating Burma’s Rohingya People’s Future in Reconciliation and (Democratic) Reform,” held on August 15, 2012 at the Thammasat University, Bangkok.]
Is there any solution to this problem facing the Rohingya and other ‘nameless’ minorities in Myanmar who are threatened to extinction? I believe there is. I call it the carrot and stick policy. I shall come to this later.


Rohingya Elimination is a Myanmar National Project


Millions of ethnic minorities are now internally displaced as a result of forced migration or what is called the ‘push’ factors. A larger number has been forced out to seek asylum outside as unwanted refugees in places like Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is tragic and its continuation is not desirable for the entire region.

In his book – Worse Than War – Daniel Jonah Goldhagen says that during mass murders, the murderers themselves, their supporters and those who wish to stand idly by practice linguistic camouflage. And this has been the case with the apartheid regime in Myanmar when it comes to its national project towards exterminating or purging out the Rohingyas.

Myanmar government wants to portray the Rohingyas as outsiders who had intruded into the country illegally. This small minority of probably less than 5%, living in a country of some 56 million, is even depicted as a demographic bomb, threatening Buddhist lifestyle. I did not know Buddhism is that frail. Funny that the Thein Sein regime is even touted as a reform-minded government!  If this be the attitude towards a persecuted minority one wonders how appalling it must have been during previous military regimes.

For decades what used to be whispered (and/or unheard by others) in government circles before the latest pogrom was unleashed against the Rohingyas of Myanmar has now become somewhat audible for all to hear. Their recent statements clearly show that for the past half a century, the Burmese (Myanmar) government ultimately has been the author of its own actions – their genocidal campaigns, their repeated pogroms, and their apartheid character to eliminate the Rohingya people one way or another. It is this policy which has led to forced exodus of more than a million of Rohingyas, let alone the inhuman condition that their people are subjected to day in and day out inside Myanmar.

As we have witnessed in the past with the Jews of Germany, Bosnian Muslims of former Yugoslavia, Kosovars of Kosovo of  former Greater Serbia (and former Yugoslavia), and victims of Rwanda and Burundi, any time such mass extermination or eliminationist projects are launched, it is always about societies and their cultures that contribute to the circumstances that produce extermination plausible as a group or national project — a project that is led by the state, supported by a good percentage of the nation or its dominant group or groups, and which employs large institutional and material resources.

With the current ethnic cleansing in Arakan against the Rohingyas, we are once again reminded of this ugly truth that it is a national project in Myanmar that is led by a criminal neo-Nazi regime where a good percentage of Rakhine and Burman majority — brainwashed by their own brand of Julius Streicher in the likes of (late) Aye Kyaw, Aye Chan, Khin Maung Saw and others – are willing participants. The extremist Rakhine politicians and Buddhist monks play their respective roles providing the justification and necessary institutional and material resources for such extermination projects.

It was all too natural, therefore, that Daw Suu Kyi and her NLD party members did not condemn this pogrom against the Rohingya, nor did others of the so-called democracy movement. They may not even realize how racists they are, and that is what such eliminationist national projects do to its people.

Dr. Maung Zarni of London School of Economics, who is an expert on Burma, recently said, “The racism against the Muslims in general, in Burma is pervasive across the majority, minority, civilian, military and class lines. And that is one of the scariest and most troubling aspects of this social transition in Burma. And the West has not spoken out against this issue, because the West is desperate to push its own strategic and commercial agenda in Burma. So what we have heard over the past one year or so, is that ‘Burma is a modern transitional democracy.’ And so now, the Burmese democratic transition is bringing about not necessarily concrete and irreversible democratisation process but the most ugly racism the world is witnessing.”

In such national elimination projects, as noted by Goldhagen, the targeted groups come to be seen as deleterious to the well-being of the executioner (often a majority) group. In some instances people deem the group’s perniciousness so great that they want to eliminate it. “In some of the cases such beliefs become socially powerful and coalesce into an explicit public and political conversation about elimination.”

And that is what has happened with the targeted Rohingya people. As part of a very calculated, sinister plan, the unfortunate murder of a Rakhine woman was used as the backdrop to simmer hatred and start the latest extermination campaign against the Rohingya people. It is not difficult to understand why the alleged criminal conveniently committed suicide in the prison so that no one would ever know the truth and whether or not he was used as a pawn in what was to follow. Thus, instead of a much anticipated inquiry report on grisly murder of ten Burmese (not Rohingya) Muslims in early June, we heard President Thein Sein’s statement that the Rohingyas cannot live inside Myanmar; they are unwanted.

As I have noted earlier, crimes at individual levels happen in all societies. But only in eliminationist projects are such crimes exploited to justify elimination of an entire targeted group. To do this, the Myanmar regime has employed all five principal forms of elimination – transformation, repression, expulsion, prevention of reproduction, and extermination of the Rohingya people. In spite of world condemnation, the regime, once again backed by its racist monks and mobs, therefore, refuses to allow outside inquiries and refuses to provide necessary food and shelter to the suffering Rohingya victims in this hot summer month of fasting.

President General Thein Sein has publicly stated that the Rohingya people should be expelled and the UN should take their charge as refugees, a call which was promptly rejected by the UNHCR. This attitude of the Myanmar government is worse than racial discrimination. It is an apartheid policy that has no place in the 21st century. The regime has been using the 1982 Citizenship Law as a convenient camouflage (a cover) to hide its sinister plan to depopulate Myanmar of any Muslims. Plain and simple! Let’s call a spade a spade.

The military regimes that preceded Thein Sein have been practicing this Burmanization and Buddhization policy of the country for the last half a century. Soon after assuming power in 1962, General Ne Win’s regime instituted the ‘Four Cuts’ policy, aimed at cutting off targeted groups from food, money, intelligence, and recruits. Even though Muslims of Myanmar, unlike other ethnic groups, were not part of any insurgent group, they did not skip persecution. Ne Win quickly nationalized all businesses and Muslims were the biggest losers. No compensation was offered by the Burmese authorities. He also purged the armed forces and the civil bureaucracy of Muslims. Many fled (including those with Burmese or Karen spouses, known as the Zerbadi) to neighboring East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), West Pakistan (now Pakistan), Thailand, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

In the face of international criticism, the Burmese regime began to deny the existence of the Four Cuts policy in the late 1980s; however, evidence suggests that it remains a policy and practice even today. Anti-Muslim riots took place in Mandalay in 1997 and again in 2001. Some two dozen campaigns have also been directed against the Rohingya people to exterminate or evict them from their ancestral homeland in Arakan.

The real power in Myanmar still lies with the generals. President is their front man. They would continue to make sure that they control government and that the head of the state is a Burman from the majority race. To maintain their tight grip of power, they have created a toxic cocktail of ultra-nationalism (which is pure racism) and religious intolerance (which is bigotry) where the government patronized bare-feet monks are the flag-bearers of this new Myanmar. It is no accident that Nazi insignia – signs and symbols – are hot sales amongst the Rakhines and many Burmans today. They see themselves as the Fascist Germans of the Hitler-era ready to weed out their ‘Jewish peril’ – the Rohingyas totally. Even the so-called democracy movement icons and leaders have proven to be closet racists and bigots who approve of this new Myanmarism. Indeed, with the advent of a semblance of democracy, majority Buddhists feel they now have a license to kill and persecute minorities. This is tyranny of the majority at its worst.


As I have shown earlier, the activities of the Myanmar regime since the days of Ne Win have been to heighten animosity among various communities, using one group against another. What goes on in the center by ultranationalists is followed in toto by the racists at the local state level. A transition to democracy alone has not and will not be enough to prevent the people tearing each other apart, irrespective of who forms the central government and whether or not it chooses to behave like a federal union with certain level of autonomy for each state. The first and biggest step in bringing about an end to the racism problem is to admit that it exists and to recognize its scale. Most racists inside Myanmar today are unaware of their despicable racism.

These leaders of Myanmar are also oblivious of the fact that citizenship based on ethnicity or race is an alien concept in the 21st century. Ethnicity based on race was an imaginary concept foisted by the imperialists to divide and rule, and cannot be used as a criterion for determining citizenship rights in our time. As such, the first thing the current regime can do is to bring its laws at par with international laws by amending the 1982 Citizenship Law so that Rohingyas and other minorities are accepted as equal citizens in Myanmar.

The current Rakhine-Rohingya tension can end, by partly expelling a few false notions in the minds of Rakhine and Burmese people that is embedded by text books and sustained false propaganda, authored and nurtured by the military regime and their paid historians and agents. If they instead go to older books of history, they would find not only the fact that as indigenous people the ties of the Rohingya people to the soil of Arakan is even older than the Buddhist Rakhines but also that as part of the larger Burmese Muslim community they partnered with Aung San in the independence struggle for Burma. As I have amply demonstrated in my work on demography they were not implanted by the British. Because of their racial similarity with the Indians, they are often times falsely equated with the Hindu Chettiars or Marwaris and other Indian Hindu money-lenders or absentee landlords during the British colonial period.

What is even more ridiculous is that they are perceived as collaborators of the British Raj before and during the Second World War. In 1920s and 1930s, when Burma witnessed a series of anti-Indian pogroms, often led by Buddhist monks, such were crushed by colonial troops – mainly Indian Gurkha and Sikh (and not Rohingya) and ethnic Karen and Kachin soldiers. In 1942 when Japan invaded Burma, the majority Burmans and the racists within the Rakhine community aligned themselves with the invading Japanese forces and massacred more than a hundred thousand Rohingyas in Kyaktaw, Mrohaung, Kyataw, Rambree and Paktaw where 350 villages were burned down – souring the relationship between the two communities for decades to come. But as events unfolded, it did not take long for Aung San and his comrades to realize that Japan had no intention of liberating Burma; they were simply used as pawns in Japan’s selfish imperial scheme. To this day, however, no apology has been issued for such an atrocity committed against the Rohingya and other affected minorities.

Abandoning All forms of Prejudice, Racism and Bigotry

The current antagonisms are compounded by the false notion that national success lies in racial purity and not in plurality. As I have shown earlier, the Rakhine Buddhist leadership, fascinated with Japanese imperial model of racial exclusiveness, wants to create a mono-ethnic state without any other race or religion. A visit to the USA and many parts of the Western Europe is sure to challenge that false notion and show that it is diversity of the workforce that is catalyzing success in our time. To quote Dr. Fareed Zakaria (of the Time Magazine and CNN) on this issue: “This infusion of talent, hard work and patriotism has kept the country vital for the past two centuries. And if we can renew it, it will keep America vital in the 21st century as well.”

Then there is the overwhelming belief that Rohingya Muslims, who probably constitute only 5% of the entire Myanmar population (counting even the exiled ones), are a demographic threat to the nation of 56 million. Sitting next door to China (with a population of 1.3 billion) and Bangladesh (150 million) where the population density is rather very high, most Rakhines and Buddhist Burmese assume that those people would one day take over their country unless they come hard on the Rohingya Kala and the Chinese Tayut. Thus the proximate linguistic (although very few Bangladeshis, even Chittagonians, can understand the Rohingyalish language spoken by the Rohingya people) and cultural links of the Rohingya with the Bangali makes the Rakhine and Burmese population feel threatened with dismemberment of their country – under pressure from Bangladeshi citizens. Bangladesh, thus, needs to be constantly cognizant of, and concerned with this Burmese/Rakhine apprehension, without sacrificing the right to voice support in a friendly way for the human rights of the Rohingya minority.

It is worth pointing out that democracy minus tolerance leads to fascism. If democracy is the rule of the majority, the protection of minorities against injustice and hegemony is not a matter of empathy of the majority.  Human rights in a democracy are held to be inalienable – no human being could be deprived of those rights in a democracy by the will of the majority of the sovereign people. This basic governance norm of democracy seems to have been forgotten in recent months by the so-called reform government of Thein Sein, and the members of the new parliament which includes Daw Suu Kyi and her NLD members.

Most Rakhine and Burmese chauvinists seem allergic to the name Rohingya, claiming that the name did not exist before the 1950s. They are wrong. There are written records in English dating back to the late 18th century, let alone the writings of Muslim poets of the early 17th century showing the name Rohingya. In his treatise, “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” written in 1799, British doctor Francis Buchanan wrote, “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga (Rohingya), or natives of Arakan.” The Classical Journal, September and December, 1811, Vol. IV, London, mentions the name – ‘Rooinga’ in pages 107, 348 and 535. The name Rooinga can also be found Linguarum totius orbis Index of 1815 by Joanne Severino Vatero, Berlin.

But more importantly, these chauvinists ought to know that the most egregious denial of human rights is to deny the right of others to define and interpret their own identity, because this is a denial of human freedom and human dignity. If the Rohingyas have chosen that name, it is absolutely their right to be known as such. No one should have the audacity to deny that right. It is this fact alone which has rendered derogatory names like the ‘Black niggers (or Negro)’ or ‘Red Indians’ totally unacceptable today. These people are known today as the ‘African (or Afro-) Americans’ and ‘Native Americans’, respectively. The Burmese and Rakhine people better get used to this naming convention, as much as their own names have evolved.

If they had studied history objectively they would have known that history of the geographical region we call the South Asia including what is today called Myanmar, which is sandwiched between South Asia and South-east Asia, has no one beginning, no one chronology, no single plot or narrative. This essential fact is recognized by all great historians — Professors David Ludden, Abdul Karim, Romila Thapar, R.S. Sharma and many others — who spent their lifetimes to study the region. To these unbiased and genuine historians of the ancient India and Burma, the region did not have a singular history, but many histories, with indefinite, contested origins and with countless separate trajectories that multiply the more we learn about the region.

Obviously, such an understanding and analysis of history is unpopular and loathsome with communal, racist, xenophobic regimes and their propagandists and vanguards. The latter bigots would rather have it their way in which the minorities or the have-nots in power simply did neither exist nor mattered. To them, the affected persecuted people just appeared in the recent scene through mere accident of history like those possible through a magic lantern! That is the level of their disgusting chauvinism, which is often reflected through the claims and counter-claims of pen-pushing chauvinists and zealots of the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

Racism is a curse and must be fought relentlessly; otherwise for multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries like Myanmar (a hybrid state of states) it will tear it apart. Freedom-loving and democratic-minded opposition groups working outside Myanmar, therefore, must respect each other and shun racism and bigotry. It won’t be easy and fast though. After all, it has been in their political-DNA for way too long, nurtured and nourished by promoters of hatred and intolerance.

They must believe and respect all the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That means, they must treat others that look different with respect and dignity. They must bury their pre-colonial chauvinist mindset that is not conducive to our time when increasingly human rights, freedom and democracy are all equally important. They should draw the lessons from former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. If they fail to do so, Burma will remain a country at war with itself, whether or not today’s regime is replaced by another government, civil or otherwise.

In the context of Arakan, it is important that there be a dialogue between the leaderships of the majority Rakhine and the minority Rohingya to bury prejudice and ease tension for a peaceful and respectable co-existence as equal citizens.

The Stick

As I have noted elsewhere, for every ideology, there is always an ideologue. This role is often shared by intellectuals, who are the real ‘brains’ that energize the wheel of the movement. So, as we have Aye Kyaw and Aye Chan (author of xenophobic works like the “Who are the Rohingyas?” and “The Influx Viruses”) among the Rakhaings, steering the wheel of intolerance against the Rohingyas of Myanmar today, Julius Streicher (1885 – 1946) was the ideologue responsible for breeding hatred against the Jews of Germany.
Julius Streicher was a prominent Nazi prior to and during World War II. In 1923 Streicher founded the racist newspaper, Der Stürmer of which he was editor. The newspaper become a part of the Nazi propaganda machine spreading deep hatred of everything and everyone Jewish.

Streicher argued in the newspaper that the Jews had contributed to the depression, unemployment, and inflation in Germany which afflicted the country during the 1920′s. He claimed that Jews were white-slavers and were responsible for over 90 percent of the prostitutes in the country. Eventually the newspaper reached a peak circulation of 480,000 in 1935. After the Nazi party was reorganized, Streicher became the party leader of Franconia. After 1933, he practically ruled the city of Nuremberg and was nicknamed “King of Nuremberg” and the “Beast of Franconia.” His publishing firm released three anti-Semitic books for children, including the 1938 Der Giftpilz (The Poison Mushroom), one of the most widespread pieces of propaganda, which purported to warn about insidious dangers Jews posed by using the metaphor of an attractive and yet deadly mushroom.

On May 23, 1945, two weeks after Germany’s surrender, Streicher was captured by the Americans. Chief Justice Jackson, chief counsel for the prosecution, spoke to the tribunal and explained to them the importance of what they were doing. He said, to paraphrase, that: “We are handing these defendants a poisoned chalice, and if we ever sip from it we must be subject to the same punishments, otherwise this whole trial is a farce.” Interestingly, in Jackson’s opening statement he claimed that the prosecution did not wish to incriminate the whole German race for the crimes they committed, but only the “planners and designers” of those crimes, “the inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the world would not have been for so long scourged with the violence and lawlessness … of this terrible war.”

So, at Nuremberg, the ordinary Germans who threw Jews into crematoria were not tried, but only their leaders, who incited violence. It was not surprising, therefore, to find Julius Streicher included in that short list. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death on October 1, 1946. Another person who didn’t escape punishment at Nuremberg was Dr. Wolfram Sievers of the Ahnenerbe Society’s Institute of Military Scientific Research, whose own crimes were traced back to the University of Strasbourg. They were not the typical people prosecuted for international war crimes, given their civilian professions. As Professor Noam Chomsky has argued there is a justification for their punishment, namely, those defendants could understand what they were doing. They could understand the consequences of the work that they were carrying out.

What is important here to stress is that Julius Streicher was not a member of the military. He was not part of planning the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, or the Soviet invasion. Yet his role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors’ judgment, to include him in the indictment.

As we have noted from the latest extermination campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, there was collusion from certain elements of the civil sector (Rakhine politicians and intellectuals) in this crime spree. They provided the justification for extermination. They acted like Julius Streicher of the Nazi era.
I would like to believe that by identifying and prosecuting both the state and non-state actors that are responsible for the on-going extermination campaigns we can show that such crimes against humanity will not be tolerated in our time.

It is high time that the UN and the international media take notice of this grave historic injustice to the Rohingyas of Myanmar. The Thein Sein regime must be obliged to accept the Rohingyas as equal citizens failing which the entire region would be forced to settle for decades of instability and insecurity, something nobody wants. It is for the good of the entire region – south and south-east Asia, let alone Myanmar that the regime fulfills its international obligations by reaffirming fundamental human rights and securing the life and dignity of the minorities within its territory, as are very clearly enshrined in the preamble of the Charter of the UN. The sooner the better!

However, as I have noted elsewhere the Myanmar government is known to have perfected the game of playing cat-and-mouse with the world community, hoping that such occasional extermination campaigns (dubbed as ‘sectarian’ clashes or riots) would soon be forgotten. After all, it has never been punished harshly for its horrendous records on a plethora of violations. In 2006, Special Rapporteur Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro stated: “As noted by the Special Rapporteur in his previous reports, the above-mentioned serious human rights violations have been widespread and systematic, suggesting that they are not simply isolated acts of individual misconduct by middle- or low-ranking officers, but rather the result of a system under which individuals and groups have been allowed to break the law and violate human rights without being called to account.” It is not by chance that when Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, urged an independent inquiry on Arakan Thein Sein promptly announced its own internal inquiry commission only to diffuse such outside pressures.

It is, therefore, necessary for the world community to ensure that it is not fooled by such ploys again, and instead, to demand full compliance – including restoring Rohingya citizenship rights – within a prescribed period of, say, six months. If the regime fails to reform by improving the status of the minority Rohingyas, the ASEAN and the OIC, with or without the UNSC, must press for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the massacre, and indict the Myanmar government for its war crimes against the Rohingya and other minorities, violating international criminal laws based on the provisions stipulated under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was adopted in July 1998 and came into force in July 2002, is a useful articulation of many of modern principles of international criminal law. As noted in a 114-page report “Crimes in Burma” (2009) by International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at Harvard Law School, the five common elements of a crime against humanity are as follows: (1) there must be an “attack”; (2) the attack must be “directed against” a “civilian population”; (3) the attack must be “widespread or systematic”; (4) the conduct of the perpetrator must be “part of ” such an attack; and (5) the perpetrator must have “knowledge” that, or intended that, his or her conduct is part of such an attack. The Report says, “Of the Rome Statute provisions on war crimes the most relevant to Burma are Articles 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(e), which cover serious violations in conflicts of a “non-international” (or internal) character… To constitute a war crime in the context of an internal armed conflict, the act must be committed against persons taking ‘no active part in the hostilities’. A war crime involves a perpetrator committing one of a number of prohibited acts, such as rape or torture, in a situation that meets certain common elements.”

If anyone is looking for evidences there are plenty to indict the Myanmar regime for its crimes against humanity. Unless the Myanmar government corrects or is pushed to correcting its Rohingya problem soon by allowing them to live as equal citizens, I am afraid that the agenda could be hijacked by extremists on both sides of the Muslim-Buddhist divide which could lead to war of secession, further threatening the regional peace and security.

It is worth noting here that the UN Security Council has the power under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to take measures “to maintain or restore international peace and security” when it determines “the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.” Article 41 of the Charter allows the Security Council to take action that does not involve the use of force. As articulated in Article 33 of the Charter, whenever the Council “deems necessary,” at “any stage” of a dispute, it may intervene “to ensure prompt and effective action” to safeguard peace and security. Myanmar is a prima facie case for the UNSC to intervene to ensure that the Rohingyas are protected from any further violations of their human rights.

In its 2009 report the IHRC stated, “UN actors documenting of reported violations have been strongly suggesting these violations may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes under international criminal law. This creates a strong prima facie case that such crimes have been occurring, and justifies intensified UN Security Council action to investigate the scope and scale of these potential crimes… If the international community and the UN Security Council fail to take action the evidence presented in this report suggests that the grave humanitarian situation in eastern Burma and elsewhere in the country will continue unchecked. The perpetrators of serious human rights and humanitarian violations will remain unaccountable. A culture of impunity will persist that is highly conducive to the continuance and escalation of violations.” And as the latest pogrom testifies, these fears have become reality for the Rohingya people.

The report recommended, “To help prevent future violations, the UN Security Council should create a Commission of Inquiry mandated and sufficiently resourced to investigate adequately the situation and make appropriate recommendations based on its findings. This Commission should apply all relevant international criminal and humanitarian law standards, in order to analyze whether or not the ongoing widespread and systematic violations may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. The international community, particularly the member countries of the United Nations, should make it clear to the Security Council that such action is needed. Finally, the Security Council should be prepared to act upon findings and recommendations made by such a Commission, including a potential referral to the International Criminal Court, the permanent body established to investigate, try, and sentence those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Three years have passed by since the IHRC Report surfaced. And yet today, the lives of persecuted Rohingya are infinitely worse. Simply put, they face extinction. How long can the UNSC afford to do nothing when it comes to protecting their lives? How about starting with an international inquiry commission, as recommended by Tomas Quintana?

It would be the greatest tragedy of our generation should we allow the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing to whitewash their crimes against humanity. The UNSC must demand an impartial inquiry and redress the Rohingya crisis. The Rohingya people need protection as the most persecuted people on earth. Should the Thein Sein government fail to bring about the desired change, starting with either repealing or amending the 1982 Citizenship Law, the UNSC must consider creating a ‘save haven’ inside Arakan in the northern Mayu Frontier Territories to protect the lives of the Rohingya people so that they could live safely, securely with honor and dignity as rest of us.

Unless, the Myanmar government restores the fundamental rights of the Rohingya people, let no government reward it with lucrative business deals, nor lift the current sanctions. Otherwise, they must share the guilt of aiding mass murder, making a mockery of everything that we cherish dear and noble, letting the bleeding and suffering to continue. If they truly want to see change, they better walk the talk! The US and her western partners must establish concrete, identifiable benchmarks, as I hinted here, to make sure the so-called reform is irreversible and inclusive for persecuted minorities like the Rohingya. They should insist that “ethnic cleansing” of any minority is unacceptable and is a crime against humanity, and ensure that Myanmar’s reforms include its minorities, embrace international human rights standards, and end its ethnocentric agenda.

If the Thein Sein regime is truly reform-minded, let it prove itself by doing what is just, morally right and honorable. It has the choice to either pick up the carrot or be beaten by the stick. It can capture this moment to either make history or be dumped in its garbage, sealing the fate of the country much like what happened to Yugoslavia and its leader Milosevic. I pray and hope that it chooses inclusion over exclusion, diversity over racism, tolerance over intolerance, wisdom over idiocy and ultimately life over death.

Source: Here

HRW report details persecution of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds
30 August 2012
Reports from the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, and from Al Jazeera, have shed further light on the oppressive conditions facing the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma’s Rakhine state (also known as Arakan), as well as the communal violence that broke out in June.

The Rohingya are a distinct ethnic group in Burma and neighbouring Bangladesh. They have lived in the area for centuries and are believed to have descended from Arab traders. Both countries treat them as illegal immigrants, deny them citizenship and discriminate against them. In times of rising economic stress and social tension, they become convenient scapegoats for nationalist demagogues.

On June 3, a Buddhist mob pulled 10 Muslims from a bus in the town of Toungop and slaughtered them. Local police and soldiers stood by and watched. The murders were supposedly in retaliation for the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman in nearby Ramri on May 28, even though three Muslim men had been arrested for that crime.

Tensions exploded on June 8 when thousands of Rohingya rioted in Maungdaw after Friday prayers, destroying the property of Arakan Buddhists and killing an unknown number of people. Sectarian violence swept through the state capital of Sittwe and surrounding areas. After Burmese President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency on June 10, the security forces and mobs of Arakan thugs went on a rampage against Rohingya communities. In all, at least 80 people died and 5,000 homes were torched.

An August 1 HRW report, entitled “‘The Government Could Have Stopped This’: Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma’s Arakan State,” provided details of the atrocities carried out by both sides in the communal conflict, and by Burmese security forces against the Rohingya.

The HRW press release stated: “Burmese security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists during deadly sectarian violence in western Burma in June 2012. Government restrictions on humanitarian access to the Rohingya community have left many of the over 100,000 people displaced and in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care.”

One example of the security forces’ role in Sittwe occurred on June 12. A Buddhist mob burned down the houses of up to 10,000 Rohingya Muslims in the city’s Narzi quarter—the most economically important Muslim area. Police and the anti-riot paramilitary “opened fire on the Rohingya with live ammunition” as they attempted to extinguish fires.

HRW and Amnesty International confirmed that since June, hundreds of Rohingya men and boys had been arrested and held incommunicado. The government denied this, but the HRW reported one case in a southern coastal town, in which 82 fleeing Rohingya were arrested in late June and jailed for a year for violating immigration laws.

HRW said that since June thousands of Rohingya had been pushed back into Burma by the Bangladesh government, in violation of international law. HRW representatives witnessed Rohingya men, women and children pleading for mercy after arriving in Bangladesh, only to be forced back to sea in unseaworthy boats. “It is unknown how many people died in these pushbacks,” a HRW statement noted.

On August 26, HRW called on the Bangladesh government to reverse its order that three international aid groups—Doctors Without Borders, Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid—cease their assistance to Rohingya in the Cox’s Bazaar and surrounding areas.

An Al Jazeera report on August 9 painted a picture of the situation in Sittwe, a city of over 200,000 inhabitants. “Traditional Muslim neighbourhoods... were deserted, locked up, or living in deep secrecy,” it said. “Most striking was the almost complete absence of the Rohingya population that once made up nearly one-third of the city’s population, and the largest portion of its working class…

“The Rohingya who worked as the city’s ever-present rickshaw drivers and porters at the jetty and markets are now gone. There are no signs of Muslims at the airport, the boat shuttles that ferry passengers to outlying islands, or even the local buses that run Buthidaung to Maungdaw, two Rohingya-majority (areas).”

The article reported that Muslim residents “say (there) is a state sponsored campaign to segregate the population along ethno-sectarian lines.” The report cited unconfirmed statements by off-duty soldiers that many more military murders had been committed than those reported.

Asia HRW director Brad Adams commented: “Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya. The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.”

These remarks reflect the broader campaign by the US and its European allies to pressure the Burma’s military-backed regime to distance itself from China, align more closely with the West and open up to foreign investment. The “human rights” issue—including demands for an end to ethnic conflicts in northern Burma—has been exploited by the US as a convenient means for extracting concessions.

There has, however, been a muted international response to the persecution of the Rohingya, except from governments in Muslim majority countries, seeking to placate public concern at home.

On August 20, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed former Vice President Jusuf Kalla as a special envoy to Burma to show “solidarity with our Rohingya brothers.” A meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on August 23 resolved to take the matter to the UN because of “the continued recourse to violence by the Myanmar [Burmese] authorities against the members of this minority and their refusal to recognise their right to citizenship.”

From Washington, however, there has been little criticism of the Burmese junta. Full diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored without a hitch. The new US ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal he had been surprised that the violence spread rapidly but added: “I don’t think it affects our view on sanctions.”

The Obama administration has never been concerned about the “human rights” of the Burmese people. Moreover, in the case of the Rohingya, criticism of the Burmese government would risk exposing Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is closely aligned to the West.

Suu Kyi has been silent on the persecution of the Rohingya. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) has the same chauvinist attitude as the government, regarding them as “illegal immigrants.” In her first speech to Burma’s parliament on July 25, she called for rights for ethnic minorities without mentioning the Rohingya, who are not official recognised as one of Burma’s 135 ethnic groups.

To placate international criticism, President Thein Sein announced a commission of inquiry on August 17 into the sectarian violence. The 27-member commission has no Rohingya representatives. Its chairman, Dr Aye Maung, advocates communal segregation. Another commissioner, Ko Ko Gyi, a member of Suu Kyi’s NLD, has called for the deportation of the Rohingya.

Source: Here

Forum calls for commission on Rohingya crisis

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 17:56

THE "Rohingya Suffering: We Care" forum has called for the setting up of an autonomous commission to investigate the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Melaka chief minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, said this was among the 10 resolutions passed during the one-day forum on the issue, which was organised by the Organisation of the Islamic World Malay World (DMDI), here today.  

"The Commission should be monitored by a world organisation such as Asean, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation or United Nations to seek a resolution for the crisis," he told reporters after opening the forum at the Melaka International Trade Centre.

Also present at the event was International Movement for a Just World (JUST), president, Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

Mohd Ali, who is also DMDI president, said they would be sending a letter to Myanmar President, Thein Sein, urging for the Rohingya to be accepted as citizens of Myanmar and given equal treatment. 

Meanwhile, a Melaka Rohingya Fund was launched to assist the ethnic group.

The fund managed to collect RM123,000 from the state's non-governmental organisationson on the first day of its launch.  

Source: MMail

Interfaith Press Conference for Rohingyas in front of UN (HQ) & RCI


Date: August 30, 2012


RE: Interfaith Press Conference for Rohingyas in front of UN (HQ) & RCI

New York City:- The Rohingya Concern International (RCI) actively participated in an Interfaith Press Conference led by BURMA TASK FORCE/NEW YORK on the date of August 28. 2012 in front of UN (HQ) in the New York City.

Many Organizations participated and showed their support and solidarity to suffering Rohingyas in Arakan,Burma who are the victims of Genocide.
All Speakers from the different organizations spoke out about the pogrom against the Rohingyas and spread awareness regarding the ongoing atrocities in Arakan against innocent civilian Rohingyas.

Dr.Shaikh Obaid led the ceremony and all speakers expressed their concern about the current situation of Rohingyas.The Speakers urged the President  Barack Obama and Secretary of State Clinton  as well as international community to address the suffering of one million Rohingyas in Arakan and those Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh. 

They also appealed to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Dalai Lama, leaders of Democracy movements and Buddhist Monks  to help stop ethnic cleansing in Arakan, Burma appealing the Burmese Govt.

The BURMA TASK FORCE has urged the Govt. of Bangladesh to open its border with Burma and offer full humanitarian assistance to those forced to flee Burma.
in cooperation with the international community.


The speakers at the  press conference were-
1.Dr.Shaikh Obaid...BURMA TASK FORCE
2.Mohiuddin M Yusof ...President/Rohingya Concern International
3.Imam Talib Abdur Rashid...President,Majlis Shura, New York City
4.Mariam Tanzila..
5.Mahtabuddin Ahmad.....HRDB
6.Advocate Abdul Aziz....Muslim Ummah of North America(MUNA)
7.Mubashhar Ahmad.....Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
8.Khwaja Mizan Hasan...Jamaica Islamic Center
9.Rev.Dr. Donna  Sch
11.Joe Lombardo

Note: A Big Demonstration for Rohingyas will be held on 8th Sept-2012
         in front of UN (HQ) and One thousand people are expected to participate
         in the peaceful rally .

Burma Task Force/New York is an alliance of mosques and Muslim organizations greater New York area launched to stop the ethnic cleansing in Arakan/Burma.

Contact:-Mohiuddin M Yusof

Information Desk
Rohingya Concern International (RCI)
New York ,USA

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Club seeks aid for Rohingya refugees

KUALA LUMPUR: Putra 1Malaysia Club urged Malaysians to donate food and essentials to some 200,000 Rohingya refugees who are staying in camps in Bangladesh and near the Thai-Myanmar border.

Its president, Datuk Abdul Azeez Rahim, said the club's mission was to collect 480 tonnes worth of food, toiletries and medicine for the refugees.

"We hope to provide six months' worth of food to them."

Azeez said the club has collaborated with hypermarket chains Giant and Mydin to provide avenues for charitable Malaysians to make their contributions.

"Members of the public can just go to Giant or Mydin and buy a family tag worth RM100 that would include a box full of food and toiletries.

"Each box would have the name of the person who donates this."

Azeez also welcomed Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities in Malaysia who wanted to volunteer with the club and pack the donations into individual boxes for the mission.

International human rights organisation Amnesty International described the Rohingyas as one of the most oppressed minorities in the world.

The Rohingya Muslims have suffered under the junta since 1978 and were restricted from becoming Myanmar citizens.

The club's 60 volunteers will head for Bangladesh on Aug 31 and are expected to return on Sept 9 after transporting the humanitarian aid to volunteers at Kutupalons and Mayapara, 120km from Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Azeez said the team would work with local non-governmental organisations and the International Red Crescent Society there.

He added the club had upgraded its security features during humanitarian missions, such as providing bulletproof vests to its volunteers to avoid any unwanted incidents.

Those interested to donate can contribute blankets, mineral water, medication, baby milk formula and food and send them to the club's headquarters at 66 Jalan Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur before Aug 31.
The public can also call 1-300-88-1113 or 014-5181818 (Azeez) for more details.

Chandra urges diplomatic approach on Rohingya issue

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 26, 2012): Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), has called on Malaysia to take a diplomatic approach to persuade Myanmar to stop the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in the state of Rakhine

Chandra said Malaysia was viewed as being able to play an effective role as it was among the Asean members which strongly supported Myanmar's entry into the bloc.

"Therefore, as a neighbour and friend, we should persuade the Myanmar government to act fairly in the Rohingya issue," he told Bernama.

He said Kuala Lumpur and other Asean members should ensure that the Investigation Commission set up by the Myanmar government was transparent and autonomous in bringing to justice those responsible for the persecution.

Malaysia should also continue communicating with Asean secretary-general Dr Surin Pitsuwan in efforts to halt the ethnic violence in Rakhine, he said.

Apart from these diplomatic efforts, he said, Malaysia could also provide financial assistance by collecting funds for the victims in Rakhine and other areas affected by the conflict.

Chandra also called on Asean member countries to bring up the issue at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to be held from Aug 29 to 31 in Tehran.

Although there were bigger issues such as Iran, Syria and Palestine, the Asean members present there may be able to make a stand on the situation and pass a resolution on the matter, he said. – Bernama

Source: Here

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mosque shuttered, prayer ban on Rohingya during Ramadan in Myanmar

08/23/2012 12:39
During the Muslim month of fasting, mosques were sealed off. Not even for the festivity of Eid ul-Fitr were they reopened. Burmese Muslims and activists complain that pressure is being put on Muslims to leave the country. Human Rights watch calls it "state-sponsored persecution".

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Myanmar's security forces barred Muslim Rohingya from worshipping in mosques across Rakhine state, scene of sectarian violence a few weeks ago. The ban started in the third week of last month at the start of the Muslim fasting month. It is ongoing even with the end this week of Eid ul-Fitr, the festival that marks the conclusion of Ramadan.

Some eyewitnesses said that nearly all the 500 mosques in the western state had been affected. Sectarian tensions remain high in the area and the authorities are on high alert to prevent new clashes.

"At the start of Ramadan, Nasaka forces [Myanmar's border guards] sealed six mosques in our vicinity and threatened to arrest or shoot us if we dared to pray there," Kalimullah, a 60-year-old Rohingya man from Rakhine, told the South China Morning.

"We hoped they would open the mosques for us for Eid," the festivity that marks the end of Ramadan. "But they did not. We now know that Eid prayers were not held in any mosque in Arakan [Rakhine] yesterday." Instead of easing the restrictions for Eid, the clampdown intensified, Kalimullah added.

Myanmese officers and officials ordered Rohingya villages not to participate in mass prayers for Eid, and guards patrolled the traditional prayer grounds to prevent gatherings.

Human Rights Watch describes the situation as "state-sponsored persecution" of the Rohingya people whose culture and assets are being progressively destroyed.

Security forces told Rohingya that if they wanted to practice their Islamic faith, they should do so outside Myanmar, Kalimullah said.

Myanmese security forces were pressuring the Rohingya to leave the country, said Nurul Islam, a Rohingya rights activist based in Bangladesh.

In June, a district in Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State, sentenced three Muslims to death for the rape and murder in late May of Thida Htwe, a young Arakanese Buddhist. This sparked sectarian strife between Muslims and Buddhists.

The next day, an angry crowd blaming Muslims attacked a group of them travelling on a bus, killing ten, even though they were not involved in the previous incident.

The spiral of hatred has led to unrest and 29 people deaths, including 16 Muslims and 13 Buddhists, plus 38 people wounded.

According to official sources, at least 2,600 homes were set on fire, forcing hundreds of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. However, they were turned back at the border by Bangladeshi authorities.

Source: Here

Rights Group Urges Bangladesh to Protect Rohingya Refugees

A member of Border Guards of Bangladesh comforts a Rohingya from Burma who was arrested while trying to get into Bangladesh, in Teknaf, June 18, 2012.
VOA News
Human Rights Watch says Bangladesh's restriction on international aid groups is contributing to a worsening humanitarian emergency for ethnic Rohingya Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Burma.

Bangladesh last month ordered three charity groups to stop providing assistance to Rohingya because it said they were encouraging more refugees to cross the border.

Doctors Without Borders, Action Against Hunger, and Muslim Aid were providing water, healthcare, sanitation, and other basic assistance to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar district.

In a statement Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused Bangladesh of trying to make conditions for its estimated 200,000 Rohingya refugees "so awful that people fleeing human rights abuses in neighboring Burma will stay home."

The group said Rohingya taking refuge in Bangladesh are subject to "squalid and overcrowded" conditions in both official and makeshift refugee camps. It said the camps are running short on food and clean water and conditions "are among the worst in the world."

Bangladesh has officially denied forcing Rohingya to return to Burma. But senior Bangladeshi border guards reportedly told Human Rights Watch they have pushed back as many as 1,300 Rohingya trying to flee Burma since mid-June.

Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry was not available to comment on the matter.

Rohingya are fleeing violence that broke out in Burma in late May, when long-simmering sectarian tensions erupted into violence after three Muslims were accused of raping and murdering a young Buddhist woman.

Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say Burmese security forces carried out a campaign of violence and mass arrests against the Rohingya in the aftermath of the unrest.

Burma's government, which has a long history of violence against ethnic minorities, has denied the accusations, saying its security forces acted with restraint in dealing with the Rohingya.

Burmese President Thein Sein said earlier this month in an interview with VOA that his government plans to open schools to improve the education of the minority group, saying education plays an important part in helping different communities co-exist.

The Burmese government refuses to recognize the country's estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims as an ethnic group and denies them citizenship. Many Burmese consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. 
Source: VOA

Statement from the Bangkok Conference on the Rohingyas of Myanmar | Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Bangkok, 22 August, (

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is going through a deep crisis in dealing with ethnic conflicts, especially in its western Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state. To find probable solutions to the existing problems, Arakan Rohingya Organization - Japan (JARO) and Rohingya National Organization in Thailand (RNOT) jointly sponsored an International Rohingya Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

The theme of the conference was “Contemplating Burma’s Rohingya People’s Future in Reconciliation and (Democratic) Reform.”

The conference was held on August 15, 2012 at Thammasat University, Thaprachan, Bangkok. Besides the participants coming from Japan, Canada, USA, Myanmar, Malaysia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Singapore, the members from the local/international media, NGOs, ASEAN countries, and Thai-based foreign embassies attended this conference.

The conference was moderated by Mrs. Chalida Tajaroensuk, Director of People’s Empowerment Foundation and started with an opening speech from Mr. Salim Ullah, President of JARO. I was invited as the keynote speaker. The other speakers included Professor Abid Bahar (author of the book - Burma's Missing Dots) from Canada and Mr. Azmi Abdul Hamid (Secretary General of MAPIM and a human rights activist) from Malaysia.

At the end of the conference the following declaration was made.

The international conference duly notes the followings:

1. The on-going violence against the Rohingya people of Myanmar (Burma) is part of a very sinister and calculated national project towards ethnically cleansing them that is orchestrated by the Myanmar government and widely supported and promoted at the central and local levels by the ultra-racist elements within the government and civilian population of the Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state.

2. The latest pogrom, which started on June 3 with the gruesome murder of ten Tablighi Burmese Muslims by an organized Rakhine mob, has already resulted in the estimated deaths of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, and destruction of their villages, townships and schools, madrasas, mosques and business centers. Thousands of Muslim girls and women have also been raped by the armed members of the government security forces and local Buddhist population within the Rakhine state. As a result, nearly a hundred thousand Rohingyas are internally displaced, who are also denied access to food and shelter. Tens of thousands of panicked Rohingya population have been pushed to seek refuge or asylum in any country willing to provide them shelter.

3. The Myanmar government and the Rakhine state administration are guilty of practicing an apartheid policy towards the Rohingya people. They are also guilty of committing crimes against humanity.

4. The Muslim minority community that identifies itself as the "Rohingya" is an indigenous people of the Rakhine (former Arakan) state of Myanmar. They were neither implanted by the British administration since 1826 nor did they intrude into Arakan from Bangladesh after the Union of Burma (Myanmar) achieved her independence in 1948.

5. The 1982 Citizenship Law of Burma, which has effectively declared the Rohingya as "stateless", is inconsistent 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 Myanmar government is in violation of each and every Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making the Rohingya an "endangered" people of the 21st century who need protection of their human rights.

6. The 1982 Citizenship Law has essentially made the Rohingya an endangered people, the most persecuted on earth - as once again clearly demonstrated by the current ethnic cleansing efforts by the Thein Sein government that is enthusiastically aided by ultra-racist and bigoted elements within the Rakhine Buddhist monks and populace.

7. As recently demonstrated by the statement issued from the office of the President, the Thein Sein Government of Myanmar appears not to be serious about resolving the Rohingya problem in a peaceful manner that is consistent with its international obligations.

8. The Rohingyas are victims of neo-Nazi Racism in which they are targeted for marginalization and total elimination from the soil of Myanmar.

9. The statements from the so-called democratic icon Daw Suu Kyi and other leaders (including those of the 8888 student movement) have been deceptive, hypocritical and unacceptable revealing that none of them are serious about democracy and human rights.

10. The Thein Sein government has miserably failed to stop the carnage against and suffering of the Rohingya people, and as such, is guilty of abetting crime against humanity.

11. The Thein Sein government is guilty of evading its responsibility for protecting the lives and properties of the Rohingya people, who are not refugees from outside but are internally displaced because of the government’s apartheid policy.

12. The Myanmar government’s latest announcement of forming a 27-member commission to investigate the current unrest in Arakan, although a welcome gesture, seems self-defeating and inadequate for a transparent, fair and unbiased inquiry process. It is aimed once again to ease mounting pressure on the regime and to block or dodge a much needed UN inquiry. By including members who not too long ago had either organized or encouraged ethnic cleansing of the targeted Rohingya minorities, the commission’s intents and purposes are highly questionable, and appear to produce a document to cover up unfathomable crimes of the Rakhine community and Myanmar government. Regrettably, while the majority Rakhaing community is represented, not a single member of the affected minority Rohingya community is represented in this commission of inquiry.

Now, therefore, the participants of the Bangkok International Conference calls upon --

(A) The Myanmar Government:

(1) To immediately amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law thereby removing the burdensome standard of proof for attaining citizenship. The government should grant the Rohingya and other minority entities full citizenship and accompanying rights. 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 fulfill its international obligation to prevent statelessness of all affected people.

(2) To address the other fundamental human rights problems which have caused the Rohingya and other minority communities to flee to Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, India and elsewhere. Specifically, it should abolish the practice of forced labor in compliance with the 1930 International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Forced Labor, which the Burmese government signed in 1955. Towards this end, as recommended by the ILO, the Myanmar government should amend or repeal the sections of the Village and Towns Acts that legally sanction the conscription of labor.

(3) To protect the rights of the children, in accordance with the government's commitment to children's rights through its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. In particular, all children born of Rohingya parents (and other "stateless" minorities) should be granted Myanmar nationality, including those born in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Thailand and elsewhere. Children must not be forced to work under any circumstance, and the government should not discriminate against Muslim (and non-Buddhist) children in its provision of education benefits.

(4) To ensure that all refugees are able to exercise their right to return and must guarantee their full reintegration with full respect for their human rights.

(5) To release ALL its political prisoners, dropping all charges against them and their family members.

(6) To exclude certain members (e.g., Dr. Aye Maung, Khin Maung Swe, Zarganar, and Ko Ko Gyi, and others) from the currently announced Commission of Inquiry whose statements during the crisis had been anything but neutral, and had instead contributed to the added misery and suffering of the Rohingya people. For the inquiry commission to be fair, it must ensure equal participation from the affected Rohingya community. It must also ensure absolute accuracy and neutrality of the commission so that truth is not compromised in any way. Once the internal inquiry report identifies the criminals, the government must prosecute and punish the culprits in an open trial (and not make a mockery of the judicial system via a kangaroo court).

(7) To pay due compensation for the loss of lives and properties of the victims of the current pogrom.

(8) To repatriate and rehabilitate each one of the fleeing refugees who had fled or sought refugee status outside.

(9) To allow for an independent international inquiry at the behest of either the ASEAN or the UN to investigate the current crisis and to honor its findings and to take appropriate actions needed to not only punish the criminal elements but also to ensure through reconciliation efforts so that such crimes will never be committed in the future. (The government’s internal inquiry commission is biased and does not guarantee the needed neutrality required for an objective and scrupulous investigation.)

(10) To allow international NGOs and aid agencies to provide material and medical aid to the suffering people.

(11) To allow the presence of international monitors, e.g., human rights groups and journalists, to continuously monitor the restive region so as to provide needed and accurate information on a timely manner.

(12) To open a dialogue with the leaders of the Rohingya community immediately towards reconciliation, inclusion and integrating it within Myanmar without any prejudice.

(13) To understand that citizenship based on ethnicity or race is a feudal concept that has no place in the 21st century, as such, it must do whatever is necessary to amend its constitution to bring it at par with those of the civilized world.

(14) To understand that the protection of minorities against injustice and intolerance is not a matter of compassion or sympathy of the majority. Human rights in a democracy are held to be inalienable – no human being could be deprived of those rights in a democracy by the will of the majority of the sovereign people. As such, the government must correct its age-old xenophobia, hatred and intolerance of the Rohingya people through all means necessary including education and media outlets. By punishing the culprits – both the perpetrators and promoters of hatred, it must make it absolutely clear that there is no place for hatred and intolerance in new Myanmar.

(15) To understand that the failure to resolve the crisis -- by amending or removing the Citizenship Law, which is at the heart of the Rohingya problem -- can result in its leaders being pursued in the International Criminal Court (similar to those faced by the likes of Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia) for serious violations of international humanitarian laws against the Rohingyas of Myanmar.

(B) The Rohingya brotherly Organizations:

(1) To foster unity and work in their individual capacities at the local, regional and international levels towards promoting the cause of the Rohingya people so that their suffering ends and they live as equals within Myanmar. Any activity that is detrimental to Rohingya interest and unity should be shunned at all costs. Members and leaders should iron out their petty differences and find common grounds to unite and cooperate like organs of a single body.

(C)The Democratic Forces of Myanmar:

(1) To promote and practice true democratic values of inclusion and participation away from curses of racism and xenophobia, which are crimes against humanity. They must also ensure that they have no tolerance for all those hate provocateurs (the likes of Aye Chan and late Aye Kyaw) that have smeared their purported claims, goals and records about genuine democracy and human rights.

(2) To realize that the ideology of the Myanmar regime has been "Myanmarism", which is arrogant, racist, militaristic, feudal, exclusionary and thus, self-defeating. It is a recipe for a 'failed' state, setting off perpetual war within itself, and destabilizing the region. Thus, all the leaders must work towards promoting the spirit of Republicanism.

(3) To realize that the Rohingya rights cannot take a back seat while demands for equality, freedom, democracy and human rights are sought from the quasi-civil-military regime. That is hypocrisy! The dissident leaders must treat Rohingyas as their equal partners and comrades, craving for equity and human rights.

(4) To ensure that the ENC includes representation from the Rohingya community to address and accommodate their legitimate grievances, especially those relating to the 1982 Citizenship Act.

(5) To effectively engage in correcting the old and false notions of exclusionism through education, preaching and reconciliations (much like what has happened in South Africa) so that the general public and government agencies understand that racism and discrimination against any minority community (including the Rohingya) are unacceptable and are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If Myanmar is to survive as a Federal Union, enough trust-building provisions must be made so that every minority community – religious, ethnic, or otherwise - feels equal with other dominant races and groups. The true spirit of Republicanism, in clear distinction to 'Myanmarism', must be embraced as the only alternative for survival of a future democratic Myanmar.

(6) To understand that there is absolutely no place for neo-Nazi Fascism, racism and bigotry in our time.

(7) To also understand that their willful failure to arresting intolerance and genocidal urges against the Rohingya and other persecuted minorities are tantamount to promoting crimes against humanity for which they can face prosecution in the international courts (much like what has happened with Julius Streicher of the Nazi era in the Nuremburg Trial).

(D)The United Nations Member States:

(1) To press the Myanmar government to immediately repeal its 1982 Citizenship Act that is highly discriminatory and in violations of several international laws and charters of the UN and its member agencies.

(2) To press the Myanmar government to stop its inhuman and degrading treatment of all minorities, esp. the Rohingyas of the Rakhine State.

(3) To stop the ‘push back’ of fleeing refugees from Myanmar against their wishes. And, instead, they should be given shelter with adequate provisions for food, education, job and healthcare. They should not be barred from seeking asylum in a third country.

(4) To improve, through the offices of the UNHCR, the living conditions within the refugee camps, and to ensure that the returning refugees are not mistreated and abused by the Myanmar regime.

(5) To ensure, esp. through the offices of the ASEAN countries, that the legitimate demand for full citizenship rights of the Rohingya and other affected minorities of Myanmar are restored within the current year (2012).

(6) To ensure that none of the UN member states, esp. the ASEAN countries, reward the Thein Sein regime with trade and other benefits unless the citizenship and human rights are fully restored to the Rohingya and other affected minorities.

(7) To immediately demand an independent inquiry into the crisis through its own fact-finding mission.

(E)The United Nations Security Council:

(1) To pass UNSC Resolutions so that the Myanmar government is forced to repeal its highly discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Act, which has epitomized racism, xenophobia, inequality, intolerance and discrimination against minority communities like the Rohingya. The Act has effectively reduced the Rohingya people to be deprived of their fundamental rights to citizenship, movement, education, job, marriage, property and healthcare. The Act must be recognized as challenging the very principle and spirit of the UN. Myanmar's membership to the United Nations must, therefore, be revoked for its monumental crimes against humanity unless the Myanmar government fulfils its international obligations by restoring full citizenship rights of the Rohingyas and other affected minorities of Myanmar.

(2) To ensure that the Myanmar government understands that as per UN Charter – Article 55 (c) and 56, Myanmar being a member of the UN, it is legally obliged to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and promote human rights and fundamental freedom for all without distinction as to race, sex, language and religion.

(3) To ensure that the Myanmar government understands that its genocidal actions against the Rohingyas, the Myanmar regime have proven itself to be guilty of crimes against humanity, and as such, deserve serious punitive actions from the UN -- from annulling its membership in the world body to sanctions that force the regime to change its uncivilized and brutal ways.

To ensure that unless, the Myanmar government amends its ways to integrate the Rohingya people as equals within the state, it can face a total ban, cutting it off from the rest of the world, including losing its UN membership.

(4) To ensure that trade and economic bans are not immaturely lifted from the member states without a true change restoring the dignity and human rights of the minorities within Myanmar.

(5) To ensure that the Myanmar government releases all its political prisoners, and allowing them to leave the country voluntarily, if they so choose.

(6) To stop Myanmar government’s crime against its own people.

Reported ByDr. Habib Siddiqui, Director, Arakan-Burma Research Institute, [On behalf of the
Arakan Rohingya Organization-Japan (JARO),
Rohingya National Organization in Thailand (RNOT),
People's Empowerment - Empowering People for a Strong Civil Society, and
Source: Asian Tribune