Latest Highlight

International Conference on ''Militarism and Democracy '' held in Tokyo

RB News
May 13, 2017

The International Conference on ''Militarism and Democracy '' was held in Tokyo on May 6th and 7th, 2017. The conference was organized by Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) with the cooperation of other international organizations based in Asia Pacific countries. The representatives from various countries such as US, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, South Korea, Japan and other countries participated. Keynote Speakers for the event were US former Congresswoman and Prof. Cynthia Mckinney, who is also a human rights activist based in Bangladesh and Japan Upper House Member from Okinawa Itoukazou. Several high profile lawyers, scholars, human rights activists spoke their own experiences under the military rule in their respective countries. 

One of the main topics was Rohingya Refugees and Migration due to militarism in Myanmar. 

Rohingya human rights activist and Executive Director of Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ), Zaw Min Htut, presented about the Rohingyas suffering under the successive military government in Myanmar since 1962. More than half of the Rohingya population had been driven out of the their motherland and the remaining are under the genocide process of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi led quasi-military government in Myanmar. Some other Rohingya activists also joined the conference and made their efforts by joining a relevant workshop and distributing some Rohingya related leaflets and information to the participants. 

The paper presented at the conference by Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ) can be seen below; 


By Zaw Min Htut
Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan (RANJ)
6th May 2017

Burma/Myanmar is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Its civilian government lasted from independence in 1948 until the military coup of March 2, 1962 staged by late Gen. Ne Win with the claim of saving the country from disintegration through minority secession, incompetent and corrupt civilian rule; strengthen the socialist base of the economy free from the foreign dominance. But during the long military rule none of this objective could be achieved in any credible sense. Instead ethnic tensions increased and rebellions mushroomed, socialism as administered in Burma was eventually an admitted failure. There was a third supportive ‘coup’ in September 18, 1988 to keep the military in power. 

The Burmese military has established large armies. They still consider themselves custodians of national unity, denying any other institution or group, promoting instability and unstable political systems for the growth of militarism and perpetuation of power. They have suppressed the people’s voice, continued civil war, produced IDPs, and caused forced migration and humanitarian disaster. The Rohingya of North Arakan (Rakhine State) are the worst victims of human rights violations facing mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and ethnocide for their ethnicity and religion, and also for their skin and South-Asian appearance. United Nations has described them as “the world’s most persecuted minority.” “Rohingya are listed as one of the ten worlds’ populations in most danger of extinction.” 

Forced migration is where people are forced to move from where they live due to circumstances out of their control. The followings are some of the significant effects of militarism or the causes of Rohingya migration into Bangladesh and other countries: 

1. Existence denied: 

The Rohingya are often described as “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh” in utter disregard of their long glorious history in Arakan. The military has declared them non-nationals rendering them stateless in their own homeland though promulgation of oppressive Burma Citizenship Law of 1982. 

2. Xenophobia against Rohingya: 

Under the aegis of the still powerful military the popular slogan in the country is “to be Burmese is to be Buddhist”. Islam is insulted comparing it with animal doctrine. Rohingya are called influx viruses, ugly ogres and dogs by Rakhine academics, in diplomatic correspondence and by Buddhist monks and extremists. 

3. Grave human rights violations 

From 1962 military rule, the Rohingya have been subjected institutionalized persecution, draconian restrictions on their basic freedom – freedom of worship, movement, marriage, education, health care – summary execution and mass murder, rape, destruction of houses and villages, ghettoization, confiscation and looting of moveable and immovable properties, food insecurity, denial and blockade of humanitarian aids, torture, forced labour, forced relocation and forced eviction, involuntary disappearance, arbitrary detention, extortion and relentless taxation etc. 

4. Demographic changes: 

Buddhist settler villages have been established though out North Arakan. Rohingya are depopulated to be populated by Buddhist communities under state programmes. Thus the Rohingya have become increasingly landless, jobless and homeless. 

5. Mass atrocity crimes against Rohingya: 

Unprecedented organized deadly violence occurred and reoccurred in Arakan and other parts of Burma in June-October 2012 and 2016, where the government had been implicit. An estimated 5000 Rohingya Muslims were killed, drowned and missing. Blaming the Rohingya, “President Thein Sein stated on 12 July 2012 that the only solution to the violence would be to send the Rohingya to other countries or refugee camps” thus officially sponsoring “Rohingya ethnic cleansing”. The government is manifestly practicing apartheid policy putting more than 140,000 Rohingyas in apartheid-like concentration camps for nearly 5 years. While the experts in international law have described it crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has refused that no human rights violations against Rohingya have been happened and rejected to accept an independent UN commission of inquiry into human rights violations. 

6. Highly visible refugee movements: 

There were two Rohingya mass exoduses into Bangladesh one in 1978 and another in 1991-92 each with more than 250,000 refugees. Due to international pressures most refugees were repatriated without their deliverance. There has been no durable solution and the influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh and other countries is continuing. From October 2016, under the new civilian government of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi more than 1000 Rohingyas were killed and burned down, most of them women and children. About 70,000 took refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. Myanmar military burned down several Rohingya villages under the pretext of area clearance to make thousands of Rohingya internally displaced. 

7. Massive irregular migrations and boat people 

Particularly due to military’s policies of exclusion, discrimination and extermination against them, about 1.6 million Rohingya out of their population of more than 3 million have either been expelled or have had to flee persecution to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Australia, Japan, Europe, Canada and United States. Rejected in Burma and unwanted in Bangladesh the Rohingyas in Arakan and Bangladesh have become more desperate to take dangerous voyages by boats across the sea to Malaysia and Southeast Asian countries. 


The Rohingyas have become stateless within Burma and refugees or migrants beyond its border. Thus it becomes a regional problem with international dimension. It is important that the Rohingya problem must be resolved first and foremost within Burma. While still powerful military is an obstacle for solution, Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD government must change its policy on Rohingyas, and it must respect and promote the human rights of Rohingya and treat them justly. For longer term solution, the Burmese government must repeal or amend the 1982 Citizenship Law to conform it to international standards. The political and democratic process in Burma must be all-inclusive and Rohingya should be a part of it. Last not the least, their rights and freedom must be ensured on par with other ethnic nationalities of the country without delay. 

Due to the militarism in Myanmar for almost seven decades, tens of thousands of other ethnic minority people such as Kachin, Chin, Mon, Karen, Shan, etc,. became refugees in the neighbouring countries and internally displaced in Myanmar. The country become one of the poorest in Asia.

Write A Comment

Rohingya Exodus