Rohingya political and human rights issues at the 8th conference on global governance at Washington – The dynamics of democracy
April 13, 2014
Washington, D.C -- The International Affairs Council of George Mason University in Washington held its 8th Annual Conference on Global Governance at Edwin Meese Conference Center on April 11th 2014. The Conference hosted a number of honorable speakers representing different regions and institution of the world on the theme “The Dynamics of Democracy”. Eight honorable speakers form various organizations spoke at the event. Dr. Wakar Uddin, the Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union, spoke on Transition to Democracy in Burma with respect to ethnic rights with emphasis on Rohingya ethnic minority in Arakan state in west and Kachin, Karen, and other ethnic groups in east Burma. Dr. Uddin unraveled the intricacy of unfolding events in ethnic regions in the fledgling democracy. He highlighted important issues of ethnic identity in the national census. Breaching of the agreement with United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) and a number of international donors by the Burmese Government on ethnic/race identity related issues is a major concern expressed by the international community, including UNFPA. “Rohingya people want to freely express who they are – it is just a matter of their identity like anyone else in the census” Dr. Uddin stated.
The issues on ethnic minorities vary by region in Burma. While other ethnic minorities are fighting for the greater autonomy in their states, Rohingya people are asking the Government of Burma to respect human rights and return their citizenship that the Burmese Government has revoked. They are not only facing major human right violations, ethnic cleansing, and genocide by some definitions, but are also facing major security issues where the radical Buddhist mobs and monks are committing violent attacks against them in Arakan state and the Pathi Myanmar Muslims in Central Burma. Security of Rohingya people in Arakan has become more serious as international humanitarian relief workers had to be evacuated following attacks on them by radical Buddhist mobs.
Rohingya in IDP camps and numerous villages are totally dependent on the international relief groups for sustenance. The absence of NGO’s deepens the problem, and many are in imminent danger due to the shortage of food, water, and medical supplies. Dr. Uddin also pointed out that prior to the attacks of NGO offices by radical Buddhist mobs, the Burmese Government had ordered the closer of the office of Doctors Without Borders, known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cutting of the much needed medical aid. Replying to questions about the international community’s discontent with Noble Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi long silence on Rohingya issue, Dr. Uddin pointed out that despite Suu Kyi’s initial positive gesture after the first outbreak of violence there are deepening complexities such as Suu Kyi’s ill-perceived view of “Global Muslim Power” as she stated earlier, the growing influence of radical Rakhine elements in Suu Kyi’s NLD party, her miscalculation on political dynamics for popular support in the Buddhist community, have all caused discontent in the international community, apparently tarnishing her image as the icon of democracy and human rights in Burma.
The government’s constant denial of Rohingya as an ethnic group and violence against the Rohingya people is a grave matter of concern, he stressed.