Chittagong, Bangladesh: The Rohingya are illegal immigrants to Burma which stated official of Burma on Rohingya – a Muslim community in Arakan State – is false, the two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates – Jose Ramos-Horta, the Former President of Timor Leste and the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Muhammad Yunus, the Founder and Former Managing Director of Grameen Bank and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.and Dr. Muhammad Yunus – writing for the Huffington Post.
“There is evidence that the Rohingya have been in present day Myanmar since the 8th century. It is incontrovertible that Muslim communities have existed in Rakhina State since the 15th century, added to by descendants of Bengalis migrating to Arakan (Rakhine) during colonial times.”
The government instituted a new law -1982 Citizen Law- which excluding the Rohingya from the list of the 135 national races (U Ne Win recognized 144 races) recognized by the recent Burmese government, effectively stripping them of their nationality.
Since that time they have been banned from travelling even short distances or from getting married without a permit. When a marriage permit is granted, they must sign a commitment to have no more than two children. No more education for Rohingya youths and no jobs.
“We wish the Rohingya to know that they are not alone. We hope to help share their plight with the world, in the hope and faith and trust that when the world knows of their suffering it will no longer turn its back on their persecution,” wrote the two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
“We humbly add our voices to the simple demand of the Rohingya people: that their rights as our fellow human beings be respected, that they be granted the right to live peacefully and without fear in the land of their parents, and without persecution for their ethnicity or their form of worship.”
“We close with an appeal to the Burmese government, must amend the infamous 1982 law, and welcome the Rohingya as full citizens of Burma with all attendant rights.” The statement come out after the Deputy Immigration and Population Minister Kyaw Kyaw Win said “there is no Rohingya ethnic race and denied the existence of the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar,” at the House of Representatives in Naypyitaw on February 20, published in a report in the New Light of Myanmar.
“The government has denied the Rohingya as an ethnic identity for decades, branding nearly all Muslims in Arakan State as illegal immigrants as a matter of discriminatory state policy,” said Matthew Smith, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.
“When government ministers deny Rohingya exist, and it is repeated by the office of the President, this encourages more prejudice and violence against Rohingya and all Muslims,” said Mark Farmaner, director at Burma Campaign UK.
“The international community can’t keep turning a blind eye to the fact that with statements like this President Thein Sein’s government is encouraging violence against the Rohingya.”
A government must in the end be judged by how it protects the most vulnerable people in its midst, and its generosity towards the weakest and most powerless. Let not the good work of this government be clouded by the continuing persecution of the Rohingya people.