Thursday, 21 November 2019

Zaw Min Htut, President, Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan (BRAJ)

The Honorable Brothers and Dignitaries

First of all I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to those who sponsored and organized this outstanding and important consultation gathering which is mulling about the issues and problems of Rohingyas and their attitude towards social , political and religious issues prevailing in Arakan and Burma with a view to determine the ways and means for finding a comprehensive solution of the Rohingya problems in the future federal Union of Burma in the light of peaceful coexistence among various nationalities inhabiting in Burma and Arakan.

Dear Brothers and Dignitaries,                                           '

The world to today has changed a lots Democracy and Human rights is the cherished motion of almost all people. I firmly believe, our mother land Burma and her 52 million people would be to enjoy full-fledge democracy and all humanright in the near future if we all ethnic minorities of Burma work hand in hand under the leader ship of Noble Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

We, Rohingya people find no one at our side to help us and to heal us from our grievance in a time when we are sinking in the ocean of agony and misery. Today we are suffering untold hardship. Our life is hopeless and our future is dark .In short, our life is worse than that of the blacks in apartheid South Africa. In these hours of desperation and frustration. I take this opportunity to put in your presence a short but precise picture of Rohingyas' suffering so as you can assess how the Rohingyas people are gradually excluded from the Burmese society since Burmese independence.

Under the agreement singed by general Aung San and British Prime Minister Ettaly on 27"" January 1947.Burma was to gain independence soon. But this agreement required getting the consent of people in hilly regions .So after his return from England   .General Aung San convened a historic conference at pinion, Southern Shan state, gathering all minorities from the hilly region. Kachin, Kaya, Karen, Chin and many others signed an agreement to take independence together with the Burman of plain area. At the times of Pinion Rohingyas were simply elbowed out and the Rakhine represented on behalf of the whole people of Arakan. Rohingyas had not been able to present their views to the Pinion conference in such a situation the independence of Burma came without any guarantee to the political status and the safety and security of the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan .This time Rakhine leaders did not demand statehood for Arakan though they had demanded it in the round table conference of London from November 1931 to January 1932. Thus when Burma became independence on 4'h January 1948, Arakan became a Division of it. For smooth running of the country Burmese Government enacted many laws around independent period. To mention some,

  1. Union of Burma, Constitution1947.
  2. Burma Immigration emergency Provision Act.
  3. Burma independent Act 1948.
  4. Union Citizenship Acti 948.
  5. Foreigners Registration Act 1948.
  6. The Residence of Burma Registration Act 1949.
  7. Burma Immigration (Detention) Rule of 1951.
  8. Union Citizenship Act of 1948.

All of these Laws were designated to safeguard national interest and to classify status of people residing in Burma. In British colonial period all citizens, national peoples and foreigners enjoyed equal rights. But after the independence, interest of the nationals or national peoples are considered to have priority and in this regard all above laws and Acts were enacted .Remarkable thing here is Muslims from Arakan State, despite their affinity with Bengal were given full citizenship right .This Muslim people comprises of almost half the total Arakan population from1947 Constituent Assembly of General Aung San to the 1990 SLORC sponsored Parliamentary election which was the latest General election in Burma .the Muslims or Rohingyas got the right to elect and to be elected. I believe this alone is sufficient to recognize Rohingyas' citizenship today because in the international laws, only citizens can compete in national elections. Burmese Constitution and election laws also prohibit foreigners from the right to elect and to be elected .Since independence, Government provided schools, hospitals, medical centers and post-office in the midst of Rohingyas. All facilities due to citizens , were provided by the government to the Rohingyas .Rohingyas more or less were allowed to get into  government service including the military service .Rohingyas were issued Burmese passports to travel to foreign countries. They all were issued NRCs under said Residence Registration Act and its subsequent rules.

There were some sorts of discrimination, suppressive mechanism and some undue harassment against the Rohingyas during the period of former governments. But the whole community was not denied citizenship rights. There were freedom of movement, ownership, profession and worship .All children can study in government schools and qualified ones can join the institutions and Universities including professional ones.

All the Rohingyas are by all legal standard, nationals of Burma, an indigenous people of Arakan. They have been recognized as such by the previous elected governments with members in the parliament as secretaries, and in the cabinet as Minister, having a program as an indigenous people in the official Burma Broadcasting Service (BBS) and participation in official Union Day celebration. On the 1st May 1961, the province of Maung Daw, Buthidaung and the Western portion of Rathedaung was set up into May Yu frontier Administration as a Rohingya majority region.

Since 1962, the Rohingyas are victims of the worst kind of systematic, state- sponsored and patronized oppression, repression and discrimination.From 1st February 1964, the May Yu District was put under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The facilities Rohingyas enjoyed during military rule began to decrease gradually .BSPP (Burmese Socialist Program Party) the only party the military government had formed and allowed to grasp the whole life of the area. Rohingyas are not allowed membership in BSPP party .This BSPP had played one-sided game to exploit and spoil the Rohingya community until it was dissolved in 1988.

Today, the Rohingyas of Burma are vulnerable as they have no legal status in their homeland and are considered non-national or foreign resident. The so-called Burma Citizenship law of 1982 has reduced the Rohingyas to the status of stateless people. The promulgation of this law took place soon after the exodus of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh in 1978. Once the refugee had been repatriated, this law was especially designed effectively to deny Rohingyas the right to a nationality The 1982 Citizenship law has had the effect of rendering the vast majority of Rohingya ineligible to be Burma citizens. The current military government says Rohingya is not in 135 ethnic groups Ma-Sa-La had designated lately. The 1982 Citizenship law create three classes of citizens: full citizen, associate citizen, and naturalized citizen. The Rohingyas are not issued any new national identity cards which were issued to other citizens since 1991. The withholding of citizenship has become a mechanism for discrimination and persecution on the basis of ethnicity .ID card are very essential in all national activities ID cards must be carried at all times and a card number has to be given when buying or selling anything, staying over night with friends or relatives outside own council areas, applying for any civil service, professional post, enrolling in schools, registered in hospital and other daily activities.

Most of the National Registration cards (NRCS) issued to Rohingyas during the previous governments has been confiscated by the current military regime. The authorities had issued Temporary Registration Cards (TRCs) to some Rohingyas in  Maung  Daw and  Buthidaung,  locally know as White Cards against their protest .This was nothing but a design to degrade their national status and put them in a state of uncertainty.

Since military regime came to power in 1962, the Rohingyas are victims of the worst kind of systematic, state-sponsored and patronized oppression, repression, discrimination,  eviction,  relocation,  extortion,  arbitrary  arrest  and  taxation, targeted communal riots .that invariably result in death, massive destruction of their settlements, holy places of worship, economic bases and expulsion  from their hearts and homes. The current SPDC regime has became creative to open up its new weapons of ethnic cleansing, bound to terrorize the Rohingya community and forcing them to opt for exodus out of the country.

In 1978 Naga Min operation and again in 1991-1992 Pyi Thaya operation, the Burmese military regime launched program against the Rohingya of Arakan in order to drive them out from their homes. In each of those programs more than a quarter million of Rohingya were forcibly evicted from their ancestral homes to seek refuge in Bangladesh. Some of the major armed operations against the Rohingyas people, orchestrated by the Burmese government since independence to expel the Rohingya community from Arakan are mentioned below.

  1. Military operation (5'h Burma Regime) November 1948.
  2. Burma Territorial force (BTF) operation 1948 -50.
  3. Military operation (2nd Emergency Chin Regime) March 1952-52.
  4. May Yu Operation, October 1952-53.
  5. Mone -Thone Operation October 1954.
  6. Combine immigration and Army Operation January 1955.
  7. Union Military police (UMP) Operation 1955-59.
  8. Caption Htin Kyaw Operation, 1959.
  9. Shwe Kyi Operation, October, 1966.
  10. Kyi Gan Operation, October-December 1986.
  11. Ngazinka Operation 1967-1969
  12. Myat Mon Operation Feb 1969-71.
  13. Major Aung Than Operation ,1973
  14. Sabe Operation, February 1974-78
  15. Naga Min (King Dragon Operation) February 1978-79
  16. Shwe Hin Tha Operation Aug 1978-80
  17. Galon Operation 1979 July 1991-92
  18. Pyi Thaya Operation July 1991-92
  19. Na-Sa-Ka Operation since 1992

It  is  not  difficult  to  understand  why  half of the  Rohingya  population  numbering one million and half has opted for a life of exile and uncertainty .They live as unwanted refugee and illegal immigrants in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Malaysia, U.A.E, Japan, and other countries around the world. What the current SPDC is doing to Rohingya people is nothing short of the genocidal and ethnic cleansing campaign. It is one of the worst of our time when we ignore the gargantuan crimes of this rogue regime, especially its treatment of the minority Rohingya people, who have been effectively derived their citizenship rights. The policies which amount to ethnic cleansing are creating push-factors for forced migration and therefore constitute the root cause of the on going refugee exodus.