London, UK: An ‘Evening with Rohingya People’ was an event organized by the London based Burmese Rohingya community with the help of the Burma Campaign UK to share the dilemma of the Rohingya and discuss other Burmese multi-ethnic conflict topics on August 27, at 28 Charles Square London, said Tun Khin, the president of Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK).
The master of ceremony was Zoya Phan, International Coordinator of Burma Campaign UK and the speakers were Mr. Ziaul Gaffar alias Maung Tun Khin and the Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) East Asia Team Leader, Benedict Rogers.
The President of BROUK, Tun Khin explained in detail about Rohingyas unbearable suffering along with the current multiple hardships of Rohingya people in Arakan state (inside Burma) and outside the country.
The President also said the Rohingyas’ remarkable and ancient historical background, Rohingyas daily doomsday scenarios, several kinds of inhuman discrimination, coercion, travel restrictions imposed particularly on Rohingyas, which bars them from travelling from one place to another within localities, marriage restrictions and its approval, unnecessary procrastination by the authorities concerned, the harsh limitation of pursuance of education, health care problems, land confiscation, labour conscription by military personal, and so on were also highlighted to show how bad the status of refugees in Bangladesh is and how Rohingya boatpeople were inhumanly treated by Thailand’s officials.
“The Rohingyas are among the most persecuted and oppressed of Burma’s people. It is absolutely vital to highlight their plight, and to urge the international community and the Government of Bangladesh to take steps to improve access to education, health care and livelihood for all Rohingya refugees,” said Benedict Rogers, according to the CSW’s media release on August 26.
Benedict Rogers presented first-hand evidence of details of the brutal persecution of the Rohingya people in Burma by the country’s military regime, at the event where he strongly supported the presentation of BROUK’s President.
Benedict Rogers explained that he had had opportunities to interview not only Rohingya refugees but also some Rakhaine Buddhists, who have sympathized with the suffering of helpless Rohingya people and about three Burmese border security force (Na Sa Ka) defectors who left Burma, while he visited the Bangladesh-Burma border between August 26 and 31, 2008.
The three defectors confirmed that extortion is widely used by Na Sa Ka, and is specifically targeted at Rohingyas. The defectors also gave accounts of forced conscription, forced labour, arbitrary arrest and torture, according to CSW’s report following the Bangladesh-Burma visit.
From the evidence collected by the CSW during the visit of Bangladesh-Burma border, it is clear that the SPDC is continuing to perpetrate gross violations of human rights in Arakan State, as it is doing throughout Burma. However, while the regime is severely oppressing all its citizens, and perpetrating crimes against humanity throughout Burma, it is overwhelmingly clear that the Rohingyas in particular are singled out for even more extreme discrimination and oppression, and are rendered exceptionally vulnerable by their second-class status and denial of full citizenship rights, the CSW’s report stated.
“The regime is trying to take away our identity. We will not be there in the very near future. The disintegration of our society will take place. Our prime concern is that we must not be eliminated. This is our land and we want to live there with full rights and dignity. We must find a way to compel the junta to enter into a dialogue with the NLD and the ethnic nationalities. We need international help,” one Rohingya leader said talking about the plight of Rohingya, the CSW’s report stated.
The presentation was applauded and the participants empathized with the vulnerable Rohingya people of Arakan, Burma, BROUK’s President said.
The presentation was concluded by Mr Ben Roger answering some questions from participants.
Mark Farmener (Director of Burma Campaign UK) said BROUK is one of the most active Rohingya organizations, working together with several ethnic groups and democracy activists. He urged the audience to work in a practical way by creating awareness about Rohingya people and also to support its organizational activities.
There were more than 70 participants from several ethnic groups such as Mon, Kachin, Karen, Chin, some democracy activists in the UK, a number of UNHCR and NGO staff members, ARNO President Mr Nurul Islam, BROUK members, and others who are deeply interested in the suffering and stateless status of Rohingyas in Arakan.