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Open Letter to the UN Secretary General by Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan

UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The Honorable António Guterres
The Secretary General
United Nations 
United Nations Headquarters, 
New York, USA.

16th January, 2017 

Your Excellency, 

On behalf of the Rohingya Community and the oppressed people around the world I would like to extend the warmest congratulation to you for your new role as the Secretary General of the United Nations. Moreover, I would like to stress my deepest appreciation to you for your vigorous and robust advocacy for the plight of Rohingya people. I am Zaw Min Htut and I am the Executive Director of Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ). In addition, I am well recognized human rights and Rohingya activist in Japan. I met you during your visit to Japan whilst your tenure as the High Commissioner of UNHCR in the year 2007.

I would like to raise the appalling situation of the Rohingyas into your kind attention. The plight of Rohingya itself is not new and it`s been an outstanding issue for at least for six decades. There are around 1.3 million Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar and more than 1.5 million Rohingya has had to flee as refugees from their motherland to escape persecution and discrimination by the successive Myanmar Military regimes. The Rohingyas are among the world’s most persecuted minorities, who for decades have been subjected to a campaign of marginalization and dehumanization. In 1982, their rights to citizenship were removed, and they were rendered stateless, despite living in the country for centuries. They have endured severe restrictions on movement, marriage, education and religious freedom. Yet despite the claims by government and military and many in society that they are in fact illegal Bengali immigrants who have crossed the border, Bangladesh does not recognize them either.

Their suffering intensified dramatically in 2012 when the majority Rakhine Buddhist’s violence attacked on Rohingya erupted, resulting more than 200 death, several villages burnt into ashes and more than 150 thousands forced to flee their homes to be internally displaced persons. Since then, there has been periodic violence attacked on Rohingya by the extremists Buddhist’s Rakhine backed by government armed forces. 

Since 9th October 2016, a massive military operation was executed under the pretext of hunting down the perpetrators of the border post attack, but a collective punishment is underway. We are shocked by the deafening silent from the world leaders on current mass atrocity on the Rohingya community executed by the Myanmar military backed regime lead by Aung San Suu kyi. 

The Myanmar government, ruled essentially by the military, has cordoned all access into the operation killing zones, leaving the Rohingya at the mercy of the army and the Rakhine Buddhist militias. This development, if not halted may very well be the final stage of the complete wiping out of the Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar. The situation is very appalling. The people are totally defenseless. Women, children and the elderlies are targeted with the intention of forcing the men that had to take refuge in the forest to surrender. Hundreds of young and adult men are rounded up to be taken in, tortured to confess and most of them facing extra judiciary murder. Women and girls have given testimonies of being gang raped by the militias and the army. Dozens of villages are now burned to ashes, more than 65 thousands had fled to Bangladesh, hundreds have been killed and more will be targeted. 

The NLD government’s response to the unfolding crisis has been decidedly hypocritical, denying well documented atrocities by the international Human Rights Organizations such as UN Human Rights Council, HRW, AI. As a result of the lack of intervention by any state party and organs such as the United Nations Security Council, the Rohingya are subject to death and destruction as a group because of silence and rampant impunity. 

In light of above fact we would like to appeal to the UN for Intervention as a matter of urgency as the authorities on the ground are not willing to protect the Rohingya population in Nothern Arakan State. I am very confident that you would endeavor your utmost to protect the Rohingyas from persecution and mass atrocity crimes by using every resource at your capacity as the Secretary General of the UN.

Yours Sincerely,

Zaw Min Htut
Executive Director 
Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ)

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