My heart bleeds and my eyes weep upon listening to the wailing of Rohingya women when they recovered the burnt and charred bodies of their husbands and children as a consequence of brutal actions of the Myanmar military. They were tortured, their houses burnt to ashes, their daughters were gang raped under the very eyes of the police who were supposed to protect them!
How can we sleep peacefully at night knowing fully well that Rohingyas, especially children and women are being killed, tortured and raped systematically? Aren’t they human? No human being deserved to be treated like this; not even our archenemy. No religion, philosophy, or laws will consent to this violence against civilians. And the fact that it happened in a country governed by a towering figure like you Your Excellency is very upsetting.
Your Excellency, you have led an inspiring movement towards freedom, peace and democracy in Myanmar for decades and have been awarded with so many prestigious awards. Among them is the Nobel Peace Prize. In your Nobel Prize speech you said: “…Peace does not just mean putting an end to violence or war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.” It is this philosophy that has allowed you to win the hearts and minds of Myanmar and the world over which culminated in you and your party winning last year election in Myanmar in spectacular fashion.
With the huge mandate, this is a golden opportunity for you to set things right especially on the treatment of Rohingyas. You know really well that they have been persecuted in your country for decades now. Since the military coup in 1962, their basic human rights have been denied and their citizenship have been revoked. They military have stripped away their livelihood and dignity. In fact, there are plenty of evidences of genocide against the Rohingyas.
Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has recently uncovered what amounts to strong evidence of genocide coordinated by the Myanmar government against the Rohingya people. Assessment by Yale University Law School has also accused the Myanmar government for deliberately triggering communal violence by inciting anti-Muslim riots for political gain, using hate speech to stoke fear among the people of Myanmar about Muslims, and offering money to hardline Buddhist groups who threw their support behind the leadership!
Your Excellency, these need to stop now. As an icon of democracy in Myanmar, you must seek justice for all especially the powerless people. You must not ignore the fate of the Rohingyas. You must engaged with the military to pressure them to stop the persecution and annihilation of the Rohingyas. They have settled there for generations and should not be treated as outsiders. As a person who has been characterized as the embodiment of liberty, you should not allow all these crimes to continue under your leadership. You cannot continue to stay silent!
Even the Dalai Lama, the respected holy figure of Buddhism who helps shaped your belief and life, has also advised you to the address the Rohingya issue. The international rage is a call of action for you to immediately lead efforts towards real democracy and promote peace in Rakhine.
Societies all over the world have moved to ensure better living conditions for all. United Nation has just come up with 17 global goals for sustainable development. Among them are zero hunger, good health and well being, quality education, reduced inequalities, peace and justice, strong institutions which are effective, accountable and inclusive. Under your leadership, a free and democratic Myanmar can contribute to this goal by finally ending the awful treatments against the Rohingyas.
Your Excellency, you have the power to change the fate of the Rohingyas and restore back the faith of the peace loving people all over the world. Following the preamble above, I am echoing here exhortation of those concerned with restoring peace, justice and rights to the Rohingyas.
1. Allow international humanitarian organisations access, without intimidation or diversion, to provide assistance to the Rohingyas in Rakhine State who have been deprived of human rights and access to basic needs and services.
2. Stop discriminating against the ethnic minorities in Myanmar and consider acceding to international human rights treaties including the 1969 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and other related treaties.
3. Revise the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law to address statelessness of the Rohingya ethnic population and to reinstate nationality to the Rohingyas who used to be bestowed with the Burmese nationality by the original National Constitution 1947 uphold by your father, General Aung San.
4. Collaborate with concerned countries and international organisations to form a task force and to implement the Bali Process to address issues concerning refugees and the victims of trafficking in persons from Myanmar, including Rohingya, and to ensure their access to justice.
5. Collaborate with concerned countries and civil society organisations to form a working group to prepare for nationality verification to deal with the imminent return of Rohingyas refugees.
6. Shift the paradigm from instilling hate to building a peace loving societies inclusive of all ethnicity. The Rohingyas deserve to live in a free, secure and just society where they are able to realize their full potential to contribute to the development of Myanmar.
All these is possible if we work together. If there is a will there is a way.
DR. FAUZIAH MOHD HASAN (FRCOG, UK)
Advisor, Rose2Rose Malaysia
Member of the Board of Trustees Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE)
Mission Member of Women’s Boat to Gaza 2016
30th November 2016