Muslim groups concerned over plight of Rohingya

Mizzima News
by Usa Pichai
Monday, 19 October 2009 13:21

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Muslim organizations from ASEAN have urged regional governments to resolve the Rohingya issue in Burma and conflicts in southern Thailand and Philippine sans military operations.

Sarawut Sriwanyot, Chairman of the Council of Muslim Organizations of Thailand said on Saturday that the meeting in cooperation with the Nusantara Committee for Justice and Peace, Penang and Jakarta-based NGO and 45 civic organizations from Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Philippines and Thailand focussed on three issues of conflict towards ethnic minorities, included the Rohingya in Arakan state, Burma.

“We are concerned about the plight of Rohingya people in Burma, who are denied citizenship by the Burmese government. They face human rights violations like other ethnic minorities, who have to flee the country because of lack of job opportunities. Later they left in boats for other countries of the ASEAN, especially Indonesia and Malaysia,” he said.

He said the meeting agreed “to call for the rights of Rohingya as citizens of Burma. They should have the right to participate in democratic development of the country in the same way as the majority Buddhists and other ethnic groups. We hope that the ASEAN would propose this to the Burmese regime,” according to a report in a Thai news website Prachatai on Monday.

The two-day meeting entitled “Peoples Call for Justice and Peace”, organized by the Council of Muslim Organizations of Thailand and the Nusantara Initiatives for Justice and Peace (NADI), Penang and Jakarta-based NGO at the Islamic Centre, Bangkok, focussed on military campaigns, its impact, and the human rights situation of the Rohingyas in Arakan, Burma, the Muslims of Yala, Narathiwat, Patani and Satun, southern Thailand and The Bangsamoro of Mindanao, Philippines.

The conference released the ‘The Bangkok Declaration’, which was agreed to by 45 civic groups. It will be submitted to the governments of Thailand and other ASEAN member states, urging them to shun military options for the resolution of the conflict in favour of peaceful and holistic strategies for dispute settlement, socio-economic development and political empowerment.

ASEAN leaders will participate in the ensuing 15th ASEAN Summit in Prachaub Kirikhan and Petchburi province of Thailand, from 21 -25 October, 2009, amidst tight security by the Thai government. There is apprehension that anti-government groups would disrupt the meeting as had happened in April.

The other demands include: promotion of engagement and consultation between States and their people, the need to live up to collective responsibilities for the resolution of conflicts and disputes and avoid military options in solving problems, according to the statement released on Saturday.

They also called for the immediate resolution of the plight of the Rohingyas, the South Thailand unrest and the Bangsamoro struggle in Phillipines through mutual consultation and collective effort between all ASEAN governments based on justice and legitimate rights of the people.

Regarding refugee and migrant workers they called on the governments to ratify the 1951 Convention Related to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1990 International Convention for the Protection of the Right of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

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