Passionate Appeal for Protection of Rohingya Muslim Minority
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Washington, DC: Amnesty International’s International Advocacy Director, Mr. T. Kumar, has made a passionate appeal for the protection of the Rohingya Muslim minority. In a Newsmaker event on July 10, 2012 at the National Press Club, Kumar pointed out that Amnesty International’s call for concern during the Taliban rule were ignored in a similar manner before September 11, 2001. He spoke about the denial of citizenship, arbitrary arrests and cruelty committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma urging the US government and the international community to address the worsening human rights situation.
Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi was criticized by Kumar for sidestepping human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority. He was concerned that commercial interests were overshadowing the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship and opportunities to education and even medical treatment.
“Rohangya Muslims have been suffering for a long time. They have been denied basic human rights and subjected to untold brutalities. I hope the situation of Burma improves over all and then it will be easier to bring pressure for the betterment of the Arakan Muslims,“ said Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Director, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) who participated in the press conference. ISNA later issued a statement calling on “Myanmar to end violence and human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims” and reached out to 30, 000 members.
Mabrur Ahmed, a spokesperson for Restless Beings, a UK-based charity launched a petition (http://www.restlessbeings.org/petitions/2-lobbying-the-british-government-ethnic-cleansing-of-rohingya-in-myanmar ) to lobby the British Foreign Secretary William Hague .
Dr. Wakar uddin, Chairman, Burmese Rohingya Association of North America (BRANA), participated in the news conference. He has been active in voicing the concerns of Rohingya Muslims who live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State where systematic persecution including forced labor, forced eviction, land confiscation and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, occur.
The Rohingya situation also figured in talks between Burmese leader and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a recent New York Times report.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission co-chaired by Representatives Frank Wolf and James McGovern also addressed the Rohingya Muslim situation during a hearing requested by Congressman Keith Ellison – a Muslim from Minnesota - on Bangladesh on July 19, 2012. Responding to questions about the Rohingya Muslims from Co-Chair Rep McGovern and Rep Joseph Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake stated that the US has offered assistance to Bangladesh for the Rohingy a refugees fleeing Burma. He said that both the US and the European Union countries were ready to assist.
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