Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Concept Paper on the Issue of Integrity & Safeguarding the Interest of Rohingya in Arakan Under future Federal Union of Burma.

Dr.Mohammed Yunus
President, Arakan League for Justice & Freedom (ALJF)


All praise are due to Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala and Peace be upon Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the seal of the Prophets, his family members and his companions!

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent.

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a People unless they first change themselves (Surah Raad : 11 )

Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and not be divided. (Surah A’le lmran : 103)

The Prophet (pbuh) said , “a time will come when the Ummah will face such a situation that they will not know which way to go. If they stick to two things which I am leaving they will never go astray, i.e. the Book of Allah and the way of the Prophet (pbuh).

Dear Brothers in Islam

Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh

First of all I would like to express my sincere thanks to those who sponsored this unique and important 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 determining the ways and means for finding a comprehensive solution of the Rohingya problem in the future Federal Union of Burma in the light of peaceful coexistence among various nationalities inhabiting Arakan and Burma. It would have been very nice if I could have joined this august gathering physically. I would like to express my sorrow for not been able to participate due to unavoidable circumstances. Any how I take this opportunity to highlight my views among the participants by presenting this paper perchance it may be of any value in the formulation of the future policies, plan and program.

I am not sure or it is still early to predict which form of government is going to replace the present military regime or whether the military could be removed at all from power in the foreseeable future. Even if there be a regime change, how much the Rohingyas could be able to press for and win over their demands is questionable given the experience of past nearly six decades of post independent Burmese rule in the facade of democratic, socialist and military regimes, all of which nurtured almost similar attitude towards the Rohingya. What ever be the situation I feel the Rohingyas should not leave their fate to chance. If a real or genuine Federal Union of Burma would be the outcome of the present opposition struggle where the Rohingyas would achieve their due rights, it is well and good. How ever in my opinion no one could guarantee at the moment that the Rohingyas shall indeed be granted their legitimate due rights by the next administration. There is also the possibility that the Rohingya would be side lined, elbowed out or even become non-entity in the power sharing game of the would be Federal Union where a host of disparate groups will vie with each other to enlarge their share of cake. The Rohingyas should therefore be prepared for the worst. To guess possible eventualities it is necessary to understand the dynamics of past and present Burmese politics. It is also necessary to understand how the Rohingyas are looked at by the Rakhaings, by the Burmans and other ethnic groups of Burma.

As far as finding a comprehensive solution to the Rohingya problem is concerned, two main factors shall influence the outcome of the Rohingya movement, as in any other movement. The first is concerning the Rohingyas themselves or the intrinsic factor. The other is the external factor relating to the attitude of other players in the Burmese politics including that of the regime and the national and international situation either in favour or against the Rohingya movement. The negative aspect of these two factors in combination is our problem. The positive aspect of these two factors is our strength. It is therefore necessary to determine the factors that cause our problems and the factors that add to our strength.

When the problems and strength are determined it is up to the Rohingya leaders to chart out the necessary strategy towards finding a comprehensive solution of the Rohingya problem. Different leaders in different societies approach towards the problem in different ways for finding solution. This is the crucial matter. How should we approach towards the problems for a successful solution? The response to this question will differ on the basis of one's faith, beliefs, ideology, concept, culture, civilization, historical experience etc. etc. All the above propositions should be thoroughly examined by the participants before giving their opinion on the charting out of the strategy for finding solution to the Rohingya problem.

How to find a comprehensive solution

Specific suggestions

  1. At the moment, as in other parts of the Muslim world, the Rohingyas are divided in various factions. As a first step towards achieving total unity, Rohingya organizations and individuals should be able to come under one umbrella organization agreeing on some common grounds. (See Appendix A)
  2. The Rohingya should be able to make clear their comprehensive demands, from now on, in the future Federal Union of Burma with one voice nationally and internationally. (See Appendix B)
  3. Rohingyas' policy towards the Rakhaings should be clearly enunciated. Our stand is that we would cooperate and try to work together for the future Federal Union of Burma and to reach an understanding on the future of Arakan with those Rakahings who recognize the Rohingyas as an indigenous ethnic group of Arakan.
  4. The Rohingyas should be able lo present factors that will be necessary to be upheld by all communities of Burma in general and Arakan in particular for peaceful coexistence lucidly and vividly. (See Appendix C)
  5. Rohingya organizations individually and as umbrella organization collectively should undertake all necessary preparations and make ready for all possible outcome and consequences should the endeavor to establish a genuine Federal Union of Burma fail.
  6. Rohingya organizations individually and collectively should contribute to the struggle for the removal of military rule in Burma by cooperating with the opposition.
  7. As a result of the on-going extermination, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Rohingyas about half of the total population of Rohingyas are passing their lives in diaspora in dire straits without protection of law. From now on Rohingya organizations individually and collectively should draw a working plan to help solve their immediate difficulties and a long term plan for their ultimate repatriation and rehabilitation.


In conclusion I would like to thank once again all participants who made deliberations on the theme and the sponsors of this historic conference - Hon'ble Ham Yawnghwe and Hon'ble AFK Jilani for their outstanding initiative. I also heartily thank Mr. Nurul Islam, President of ARNO, who has been instrumental for the successful convening of this conference and other organizers who worked day and night to make the event nice and enjoyable. I would like to leave my last note that there are many sincere and efficient leaders in the community who have been left out from invitation, may be due to oversight or human error, whose valuable ideas must be sought and incorporated to give a final shape to everything which we want to accomplish. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala forgive us all our shortcomings and accept us as His obedient slaves and enable us to serve the oppressed Rohingya Muslims of Arakan in particular and the Muslims of Burma in general (Ameen).


The formation of an Umbrella organization of the Rehingyas

  • A Working Committee should be formed with persons belonging to certain important organizations having experience and efficiency on this subject. We propose the following persons belonging to different organizations as members of Working Committee:
    • Br. Nurul Islam, President, Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
    • Br. Moulana Salimullah, President,  Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO)
    • Br. AFK. Jilani, Organizer Arakan State, National League for Democracy (NLD)
    • Br. Habibur Rahman, Vice President, Arakan Historical Society (AHS)
    • Br. Dr. Mohammed Yunus, President, Arakan League for Justice and Freedom (ALJF)
  • The Working Committee shall   invite suggestions from different Rohingya organizalions about the modus operandi and modus vivendi of the future Umbrella Organisation.
  • After collecting all the proposals and suggestions all the members of the Working Committee shall sit together at a place convenient to all.
  • The Working Committee shall formulate the modus operandi and modus vivendi, in other words the Constitution and Rules of the Umbrella Organisation which shall include among others: —
    • Criteria of gaining membership in the Umbrella Organisation and on the basis of which organizations/individuals should be accorded "membership"
    • The structure of the Umbrella Organisation
    • Method of choosing persons for different positions in the Umbrella Organisation and their tenure
    • Aim and Object of the Umbrella Organisation
    • Principles of the Umbrella Organisation
    • Policies and Programmes of the Umbrella Organisation
    • Method of decision making and quorum of the Umbrella Organisation
    • System of Financial Regulations of the Umbrella Organisation
    • Criteria for suspension/expulsion from Umbrella Organisation
    • System of resolution of complaints, disagreements, conflicts and other problems affecting one or more organizations within the Umbrella Organisation
    • Selection of Headquarters
  • The Working Committee shall inform the concerned organizations/individuals who are selected for membership and ask their opinion about the modus operandi and modus vivendi of the Umbrella Organisation formulated by the working Committee.
  • On the basis of the suggestions put forward by different organizations the Working Committee may make amendments/additions/deletions to the modus operandi and modus vivendi of the Umbrella Organisation.
  • The Working Committee shall take necessary steps in accordance with the formula agreed upon to choose persons for different positions in the Umbrella Organisation and hand over the charge to the newly chosen leadership who shall run the Umbrella Organisation in accordance with its Constitution and rules and regulations.


What should be the demands of the Rohingyas in the future Federal Union of Burma?

  • First it is necessary to explain our views on the concept of future Federation of Burma. Our stand in this regard is that the people of Arakan irrespective of race and religion have their inherent right to decide about their political future themselves.
  • We believe that the transfer of sovereignty over Arakan by Britain to Burma under Nu- Atlee treaty signed on October 7, 1947 has no legality and juridical value as the transfer took place without consulting the people of Arakan by plebiscite or referendum and doing it outside the established procedures of the United Nations Decolonisation Law and precedents set up by the International Court of Justice.
  • The past 58 years of post independent Burmese rule has amply proved that there could be no peace, progress, stability and socio-economic, cultural and political emancipation of the people now living within the boundaries of the Union of Burma unless Burma is decolonized and the different ethnic groups are given their right to self determination according to the established procedure of UN by holding plebiscite.
  • Our Objective is therefore "to achieve the right of self-determination of the people of Arakan" and to exercise this right through a free and fair plebiscite.
  • The ALJF will support the idea of Arakan to join in the proposed new Federation as a Federating Unit with the right of self determination provided that the Federation has no dictating power over the States, and the component States have the right to decide what power and functions they will authorize the Federation for their collective security and economic wellbeing.
  • This Objective of ours shall remain unchanged provided that our sister community of Arakan, the Rakhaings, shall accept Rohingyas' due share in power sharing arrangement in the Arakan State through a negotiated settlement with the Rohingyas.

Reasons for upholding this Objective

  • With the concept of Arakan as a Federating Unit if the Rohingyas secure their due rights as citizens of Arakan, they could form Stats government by virtue of their majority status if the expatriates could return home or become coalition partner in the future State government of Arakan by forging alliance with other parties.
  • The Rohingyas are far more advanced in the understanding of trade, business, industrial management and agriculture than the Rakhaings. Within a few decades the Rohingyas could make up their shortcomings in the new environment and prosper economically.
  • Arakan will be home of all Arakanese there will be Rohingya Autonomous zone comprising Rohingya majority areas where they can practice their own legal system which may be exemplary for other peoples as well.
  • The Muslims of southern Arakan - Kyuauk Pyu, Ramree, Man Aung (Cheduba), Sandoway etc. - who are now losing their faith as a result of cultural assimilation could be returned to main stream Muslim society if Arakan remains as one indivisible unit.
  • The Rohingyas and Rakhaings will be able to understand each other and may unite for their collective wellbeing. This will be a great achievement that could lead Arakan to its glorious era.
  • Our neighbouring country Bangladesh will only be interested to help an undivided Arakan in the event of any crisis.
  • Our  sister  community  Rakhaing,  other  opposition  groups  of  Burma  and  the international community will be more likely to accept Rohingyas' demand for due share in an undivided Arakan than a demand for a separate Rohingya State.


Factors necessary to be upheld by all concerned for peaceful coexistence

In the history of Arakan and Burma Muslims had never indulged in any activity that destroyed peaceful coexistence among different ethnic communities. Muslims had always been victims of aggression, intolerance, injustice and discrimination. Our religion Islam never approved aggression against any one affecting peaceful coexistence. The Charter of the first Muslim State of Madinah which was signed by Muslims and other peoples was an embodiment of peaceful coexistence witnessed by the world for the first time. The conflict that happened after this treaty between the Muslims and the Jews was because of the latter's betrayal of the agreement.

The following factors are important for peaceful coexistence:

  • The Constitution of the States should be formulated in such a way that every concerned group is treated with justice and equity and no party is wronged or .discriminated on the basis of race and religion.
  • There should be absolute freedom of religion for the concerned community; not merely allowing to practice Religious Personnel Law.
  • In the Arakan State there should be a Rohingya Autonomous Zone where Rohingyas form majority and a Rakahaing Autonomous Zone where Rakhaing form majority. Each Autonomous Zone should be allowed to practice their own legal system.
  • There should be inter-ethnic consultation regularly at a joint forum of Inter-ethnic Council. Mutual relation should be founded on what is good, noble and just and discarding what is evil, immoral and unjust.
  • Ethnic communities should respect the religion, culture and civilization of each other.
  • If a State is attacked by a third party it is the duty of all in the State to defend it.
  • If a group is wronged by another, the wronged group should be aided by all irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
  • Should any disagreement or dispute arise between the ethnic communities the matter should he referred to the Inter-ethnic Council for settlement.

Wasalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah