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DG of ARU speaks at the State Department’s Special Event “Displacement of Religious Minorities” at the United Nations General Assembly

RB News
September 24, 2014

New York -- U.S. State Department held the event “Displacement of Religious Minorities” at the 69th United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2014, at the United Nations Plaza in New York. Dr. Wakar Uddin, Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union, attended the event at the invitation of U.S. State Department. The event was presided by Sarah Sewall, U.S Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. There were over 60 invited participants from various government and non-governmental agencies and civic societies.

Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, also attended the event. In the opening remarks, Secretary Malinowski described the growing challenges of displacement of religious minorities in various parts of the world from political, social, religious, and cultural contexts. He stressed how the Government of United States has dedicated its resources and making tremendous efforts through engagement with global communities, including various governments and non-governmental agencies to address the rapidly growing displacement issue. He also discussed the strategies to tackle the problems faced by the displaced religious minorities. 

Secretary Sewall provided in-depth analyses of the complexities in displacement issues. The Secretary has stated that in 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious minorities. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of people - Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Yezidis and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. She added that displacement is continuing in 2014, and entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents out of fear or by force, and communities are threatened and often disappearing from their historic homelands and dispersing across the map. She further described how this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm, particularly in conflict zones.

Dr. Wakar Uddin spoke about the displacement of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Arakan state, Burma, and in several countries around the world, particularly in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East region. Dr. Uddin expressed serious concerns about the horrendous conditions at the Rohingya IDP camps in Sittwe and other Townships in Arakan. He stated that the displacement of Rohingya population has deeper implications as the victims are increasingly preyed upon by human smugglers and traffickers, and the victims ending up in hard labor camps and sex slave trade in Southern Thailand. He explained the major difficulties in initiation of dialogue among the communities in Arakan due to complexities involving the Union Government and State officials, and the lack of will power by the Government of Myanmar in Naypyitaw. 

Other distinguished speakers who spoke on displacements of religious minorities, include Dr. M. Din Syamsuddin, Chairman Center for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilizations, Jakarta, Indonesia; Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace, United Nations Plaza, NY; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of ISNA, Washington, DC; Christen Broecker, Associate Director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, New York, and others.

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