Concern over Human Rights Violations against Rohingya Mounting
Pennsylvania: Ambassador Prof. Dr. Akbar Ahmed has called on US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton not to “forget the Rohingya”. Such resounding calls are coming from dignitaries, diplomats, legislators, government officials, human right advocates, and many other dignified individuals in Washington, New York, and many other cities in the world in various forms.
Despite the inaccessibility of the Northern Arakan State by the international media or monitors, the bits and pieces of reports coming out of Northern Arakan are so alarming that the international community could not remain silent. Regardless of the mission and station the international organizations, they have one unified voice on Rohingya – human rights violations in historic proportions. The United Nations (Special Rapporteur on Human Rights), the Irish Center for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Refugees International, Medecin Sans Frontieres, The Arakan Project, Open Society Foundation, and National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (The Human Rights Documentation Unit), and many other organizations have expressed serious concerns over gross human rights violations against Rohingya by the Burmese military. Some of them have openly demanded the Burmese military to end all violations and restore the citizenship with all their rights.
Most recently, Ambassador Prof. Dr. Akbar Ahmed of the American University has spoken out about rapidly deteriorating conditions in Arakan and Rohingya refugee crisis. His recent article “Little help for the persecuted Rohingya of Burma” in The Guardian newspaper in London drew renewed attention worldwide to Rohingya human rights issue in Western Burma. Dr. Ahmed quotes BBC on Rohingya “one of the world’s most persecuted minority groups” in his article and provided a historical perspective dating back the ethnic lineage of Rohingya in Arakan to many centuries.
Dr. Ahmed’s article effectively addressed the root cause of the Rohingya ethnic cleansing dating back to 1962 to the reign of former dictator General Ne Win that began with his policy of “Burmanisation”, based on the ultra-nationalist ideology of racial “purity”. In discussion with Dr. Wakar Uddin about the human rights violations against Rohingya by the Burmese military, such as its refusal to restore citizenship, travel restriction, ban on marriages, land confiscation, denial of education, denial of permission to renovate the place of worship, Dr. Ahmed simply replied, “It is humanly unthinkable”.
In parallel with several human rights analysts, Dr. Ahmed expressed his views of the Rohingya forced labor in Burma as modern-day slavery, forcing Rohingya to work on infrastructure projects which include constructing “model villages” to house the Burmese settlers intended to displace the Rohingya villagers. Dr. Ahmed also gently reminded the international community of the dilemma of 35,000 registered Rohingya refugees and another estimated 250,000 unregistered in Bangladesh, while the gradual flow of refugees heading to Malaysia in make-shift boats through the sea continues.
Dr. Ahmed is currently writing a volume dedicated to Rohingya human rights and political issues for the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. (Source: The Secretariat, Arakan Rohingya Union)