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ARU Director General and US Government Senior Advisor on Burma Meet; Verification, Census, Peace, and Reconciliation Issues Emphasized

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Washington, D.C. -- The Senior Advisor to the Government of United States on Burma/Myanmar, Judith Cefkin, and the Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union, Dr. Wakar Uddin, met at the State Department in Washington D.C on Rohingya issues in Burma. The meeting was primarily aimed at how to tackle the most challenging issues facing Rohingya ethnic minority in finding a diplomatic solution to bring peace, reconciliation, and communal harmony in Arakan state. Dr. Uddin covered a number of issues including the recent violence in Maungdaw that set off series of concerns by the international community. However, the primary points of the meeting were the verification process, national census, internally displaced person (IDP) camps, situations in Rohingya villages in various townships, and the most challenging issues in military-drafted 1982 citizenship law. Dr. Uddin explained the most widely debated ethnic code number system, particularly referring to the “Other” category outside 135 groups recognized by the former military regime. Dr. Uddin also pointed out that there are too many sub-groups, ranging from less than a dozen to 53 sub-groups within a group, while some most relevant groups such as Rohingya are left out. “This dilution of ethnic groups to numerous sub-groups are not desired by certain ethnic groups because this dilution politically weakens them; further some analysts argues that it is rather a divisive strategy crafted by the previous hardliners in the regime then” Dr. Uddin said. 

“One particular thing that I am very disappointed at is the inconsistent and often contradictory messages by the Government officials about the description of ethnic race for Rhingya people” Dr. Uddin stated. “After all these suffering and deaths since the 2012 violence, some officials have not stopped labeling the Rohingya as Bengali – How is this helping in bringing peace and stability?” Dr. Uddin pointed out. The meeting followed an overall theme of identifying avenues on how to reach out to reasonable voices in the Government and other communities in Burma that are serious about facilitating peace and communal harmony in Arakan and Central Burma. Dr. Uddin again asked the US Government to continue to engage with the Burmese Government by all diplomatic means.

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