Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Burma: Human rights group calls on writers, politicians and activists to discuss Rohingya crisis

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The Neeti Gabeshana Kendra, a human rights group, has invited writers, politicians and human rights defenders to discuss solutions for the Rohingya crisis, which is set to worsen between Bangladesh and Burma, including other SAARC and ASEAN countries.

"If the Rohingya crisis is not resolved as an utmost priority, it may emerge as a major problem for South and Southeast Asian nations, while venting anguish at the gross violation of human rights of the ethnic minorities in Arakan state of Burma," Writer and rights activist Farhad Mazhar said.

"Apart from being an ethnic issue of human rights, it has also become a religious problem and after 9/11, this crisis has become more acute from the international perspective. Unless democracy is established in Burma, the solution to this problem will not be easy," Mazhar added.

"Bangladesh should consider this crisis from the perspective of 1971 when its people had to take refuge outside its boundaries," Asaduzzman, a Supreme Court lawyer said.

"The crisis should be resolved immediately, involving international communities, and the political and civil rights of the refugees should be ensured," Daily Samakal, Executive Editor, Abu Sayeed Khan said.

"We have been victims of persecution since 1962 in Arakan and the Burmese Junta has conducted genocide there. We are moving from one place to another, risking our lives. Many of us are illegal immigrants in Bangladesh and we get no shelter in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. What is wrong with being Rohingya?" asked Kalimullah, Joint Secretary of the Rohingya League for Democracy, based in Saudi Arabia. "We have become stateless as we are not recognized by the Burmese authorities and the neighbouring nations also do not accept us even as refugees," he added.

Dr. Mohamed Yonous, a Rohingya politician said that they were not economic migrants; they had left their land as political migrants, where they had been facing persecution of forced labour, land confiscation, taxation, extortion and restrictions for marriage, in religion, education and movement.

The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) should play some role in resolving the crisis as it involved the Muslims in Burma, according to Brig (retd) Shafaiat Ahmed. "Bangladesh is badly affected by this problem and different South-East Asian countries are also coming in contact with this problem now. So a regional initiative has become important to solve this problem," he said.

Prof Naimul Ahsan Khan of the Law Department at Dhaka University, journalist Abu Sayeen Khan and Fazlus Sattar also took part in the discussion and urged the government to raise the issue at the upcoming ASEAN summit in Thailand this month.

Neeti Gabeshana Kendra, Director, Mahbubul Huq Ripon, read out the keynote address and Sheikh Taufiq, another trustee of the Kendra, chaired the discussion program.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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