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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Letter from America: International Rohingya Conference in the USA

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

The first international conference in the USA on the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar – “Stop Genocide and Restore Rohingya’s Citizenship Rights in Myanmar” - was held in the campus of University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on December 14, 2013. It was jointly hosted by the Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association (BRAFA) and the Rohingya Concern International (RCI).

The conference opened with a welcome speech from BRAFA’s chairman – Mr. Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (MSK Jilani) and Dr. Chia Vang of the Ethnic Studies program at the university. The program was conducted by Mr. Mohiuddin Yosuf, President of the RCI and Chief Coordinator of the conference organizing committee. I was invited as a speaker. Amongst others, the speakers included - Professor Greg Stanton of the Genocide Watch (George Mason University), Mr. Nurul Islam of ARNO (UK), Sheikh Ziad Hamdan of Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Professor Abid Bahar from Montreal (Canada), and Dr. Nora Rowley of Vulnerable Population Health and Well-Being.

The conference passed the following resolutions:

1. The Rohingya people, who mostly live in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar, are the most persecuted people in our time.

2. The tragic events unraveling since May 28, 2012 have made it obvious that the Rohingya people are victims of eight stages of genocide – Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination and Denial, as clearly documented by Professor Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch.

a) The level of anti-Muslim intolerance, hatred and xenophobia had simply no parallel in our time! Extremists have denied the very existence of the Rohingya people, in spite of the fact that the latter group has comprised almost a third of the population of the Rakhine State.

b) The genocidal campaigns against Muslims has resulted in deaths of many and internal displacement of some quarter million Muslims inside Myanmar.

c) Since May 28, 2012, national government actions and policies continue to be the main source of brutal persecution and human rights abuses that in effect has led to the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.

d) Of particular concern is the unfettered role played by Wirathu - the abbot of historically influential Mandalay Ma-soe-yein monastery and his 969 Anti-Muslim movements, which sanctifies eliminitionist policies against the Muslims. Despite Wirathu’s outspoken propagation of violent aggression toward Muslims in Burma, government leaders have publicly called him peaceful and good. Demanding the expulsion of all Muslims from Burma, these monks urge the local population to sever all relations with not only the Muslims, but also with what are described as their “sympathizers”.Labeled as national traitors, those Buddhists who associate with Muslims also face intimidation and violence. The hateful rhetoric of the radical monks and the “969” campaign is ominously reminiscent of the hateful propaganda directed at the Tutsi population and their sympathizers in the lead up and during the Rwandan genocide, let alone the Nazi-led Holocaust more than half a century earlier.

e) National and local security forces have been allowed to perpetuate severe human rights abuses and brutal persecution against Muslims with impunity.

The conference participants called upon –

1. The Government of Myanmar to restore full citizenship rights of all the stateless Rohingya minorities living inside Burma and to all those who were forced to seek a life of unwanted refugee outside as a result of government-orchestrated violence against them.

2. The Government of Myanmar to stop persecution, discrimination and dehumanizing of Muslims, including repealing laws and policies that enact or contribute to the persecution of Muslims and other targeted groups within Myanmar.

3. The Government of Myanmar to crack down on anti-Muslim violence against Rohingya and other Muslims.

a. It must also allow an international independent investigation of the anti-Muslim violence.

b. It must stop the criminal activities of Buddhist monk Wirathu and his 969 movement, and punish them for causing suffering of the Muslim victims.

c. It must guarantee safety and security of the Rohingya people and other minority Muslims and Christians living inside Myanmar failing which it can be prosecuted for orchestrating and/or encouraging crimes against humanity.

d. It must compensate for the loss of lives and properties of all those affected by the cleansing pogroms since May 28, 2012.

e. It must allow for relocation of the victims to their original places.

f. It must allow unfettered access of the international UN agencies, non-government organizations, including the OIC, to closely monitor the violence prone Rakhine state and allow them to aid the Muslim victims.

4. The UN Security Council to authorize armed intervention in Myanmar by a UN force under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. The Mandate must include protection of Rohingya civilians and humanitarian workers and a No Fly Zone over the Rakhine state. The Rules of Engagement must be robust and include aggressive prevention of killing.

5. The International Criminal Court in the Hague should prosecute Wirathu and other instigators of crimes against humanity. It should also look into prosecuting the major political and military leaders in Myanmar that are responsible for crimes against humanity.

6. The major military powers (e.g., the USA, Russia and the UK) to provide leadership, logistics, airlift, communications, and financing.

a. If Myanmar will not permit entry, its UN membership should be suspended.

b. The lack of progress in matters of human rights of the Rohingya and other non-Buddhist minorities inside should automatically lead to enforcement of harsh measures which include trial of Myanmar’s leaders in an international criminal court for committing and aiding crimes against humanity.

The 1-day conference on the Rohingyas of Myanmar ended with a note of thanks from the organizers to the university authorities and the sponsors – Risale Center - for supporting the program.

- Asian Tribune -

Letter from America: International Rohingya Conference in the USA
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