Petition for Rohingya Protection Nears 1 Million Ahead of Thein Sein’s Europe Visit

About 50 Burmese demonstrators gathered in the Norwegian capital of Oslo to protest Thein Sein’s visit to the country in February.

RANGOON — A petition calling attention to the potential “genocide” of Rohingya Muslims is inching toward one million signatories as President Thein Sein prepares to visit Europe and activists urge European leaders to discuss human rights concerns when they meet the former general next week.

In a message to British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, more than 984,000 signatories as of Friday urged the Western leaders to address the plight of Burma’s 800,000 or so Rohingya people, an ethnic minority that has faced decades of discrimination and a campaign of deadly ethnic violence in the last year.

“As citizens deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Burma, we call on you to press the Burmese President to urgently protect the Rohingya using all means necessary, and grant them citizenship and full legal rights when you meet with him this month,” states the petition, put forward by the online advocacy group Avaaz.

“We urge you to insist he implement such measures and tackle the impunity of aggressors to stop the violence as a condition of improved trading relations,” the petition continues, likening discrimination against Rohingya to genocide. The New York-based Human Rights Watch in April made a similar comparison, saying last year’s violence amounted to “ethnic cleansing.”

About 140,000 Rohingya Muslims—who are not granted citizenship rights under Burmese law—were forced from their homes during two bouts of communal violence in Arakan State last year. Nearly all of them remain in temporary camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where health and human rights concerns have been raised by aid organizations, advocacy groups and foreign leaders.

This week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the refrain, saying violence against the minority Muslims was “deplorable and unacceptable.”

“There is a dangerous polarization taking place within Myanmar,” he told the Group of Friends on Myanmar, which includes delegates from 14 nations including France and Britain, on Wednesday. “If it is not addressed urgently and firmly, underlying tensions could provoke more upheaval, undermining the reform process and triggering negative regional repercussions.”

Rohingya leader Abu Tahay told The Irrawaddy that the threat of Burma’s troubles spilling over the border made European leaders’ attention to the matter more likely. In fellow Asean nation Indonesia, Muslim radicals have called for jihad against Burma’s Buddhist majority, and Indonesian authorities earlier this year foiled a plot to bomb the Burma Embassy in Jakarta.

“The Rohingya issue is not only our local issue—it has become a regional and international issue,” said Abu Tahay of the Union Nationals Development Party, who met with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr this week in Burma to discuss the situation in Arakan State.

Asked by The Irrawaddy if concerns about the Rohingya would be on the agenda at next week’s talks in Europe, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) said human rights concerns would be among the subjects discussed.

“Human rights and ethnic issues will be at the heart of our discussions,” a FCO spokesperson said. “We hope to have a frank dialogue on the situation in Rakhine [Arakan] State, following the visits of [FCO Minister] Hugo Swire in December and [Minister for International Development] Alan Duncan in June. We will emphasize the urgent need to improve humanitarian access, to address accountability for crimes, and to end discrimination against the Rohingya community.”

Advocacy groups on the ground in Britain and France are gearing up for the Burmese president’s visit from Sunday through Thursday, with protests and press conferences planned in conjunction with the online Avaaz petition.

“Despite the appalling human rights abuses which continue, the British and French governments no longer prioritize human rights in their dealings with Burma,” said Célestine Foucher, coordinator for Paris-based Info Birmanie, which has been campaigning for human rights in Burma since 1996. “Rather than focusing on trade issues, the British and French governments should be aiming to secure concrete agreement on key human rights issues, such as an international investigation into abuses against the Rohingya minority.”

Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK (BCUK), said his group was mailing every member of the British Parliament, as well as publishing a series of reports on what BCUK sees as the shortcomings of Thein Sein’s reform agenda.

The group is also employing less conventional means of getting policy makers’ attention, like encouraging supporters to buy a pair of pink glasses to be sent to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, “to highlight how the British government takes a rose-tinted view of the situation in Burma.”

“Key demands will be on political prisoners, including Burma in the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative [PSVI], and international investigation into abuses in Rakhine State,” Farmaner told The Irrawaddy. The PSVI is a G8 campaign to prevent rape and sexual abuse in conflict zones, but Burma is not included on a list of targeted countries.

Thein Sein has made a habit of releasing batches of political prisoners ahead of excursions abroad. More than a dozen political prisoners were freed prior to a high-profile visit in May to Washington, where the Burmese president met with US President Barack Obama. The release of more than 50 prisoners also coincided with a decision by the European Union to permanently lift economic sanctions against Burma in April.

Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of Burma’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), spoke out against the practice.

“We have been repeating that the government has used a pattern of political prisoners’ release ahead of official visits abroad,” he told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “President U Thein Sein has said that he doesn’t use the political prisoners as political tools, but there were some simultaneous moves that happened in the past.”

Bo Kyi, who is on a government committee that formed in February to review the status of Burma’s political prisoners, said his organization estimates that there are 157 prisoners of conscience remaining behind bars, with more facing charges or on trial. He told The Irrawaddy that he had received no indication of an impending amnesty linked to next week’s visit.

Additional reporting by Saw Yan Naing.


14 Responses to Petition for Rohingya Protection Nears 1 Million Ahead of Thein Sein’s Europe Visit

  1. Most people in Burma, or even the Kachins seen here protesting in Norway, have no idea how much Burma’s image in Western countries was tarnished by these anti-Rohingya and the anti-Muslim sentiments. I doubt that most Burmese “dissidents” who are settled now in places like Fort Wayne, Indiana or Bergen, Norway, etc., have any sympathy for the plight of the Rohingyas. For most of them, the word “ethnic” means just themselves (135 of these groups in Burma?), Rohingyas are not included. For the majority of Burmese, Rohingyas are just ugly Muslim Bengali crooks who settled illegally in Burma and so should not be given any help by international organisations. They even blame the UN and human rights NGO’s of being very biased. Oh well, if the “peace talks” in Burma don’t go well, the next batch of “ethnic” or other refugees from Burma might not get the full support of organisations like HRW and UNHCR anymore. Hypocrisy and discrimination are considered “bad behaviour” in the West!

    • You are not one of those who see peace in the land. Do you see yourself only the human being in Burma. Remember that Rohingya (Rooinga) have been recorded officially by Asian research authorities even before 1799 as being one of the most important ethnic groups in Burma. Rohingya played a big rule in Burma politic just after the independent more than many other ethnic groups. Karen have been ethnic cleansed then do you not have any sympathy. Chin has been under war just because that they are not ethnic but they need their rights. They have a level of might so they are being honored. So Rohingya need to fight as well to get rights because the tyrant do not understand the others rights.

      Because of one of the worst mighty military junta want to remove Rohingya, you dump also following the suite just because of might is right attitude. When we had might with our forces in Arakan we were given full rights and every things.

      If human behave irresponsible of others then what is different between human and animal who knows only how to eat and sleep.

  2. Ethnic Rohingya? How do you interpret the word “ETHNIC”? No matter who they are, as long as they are not holding solid evidence that they are citizens of Myanmar, the Myanmar government has the right to deport where they came from. These people are Bengali and their origin is Bangladesh. So, they must be deported back to Bangladesh. Whoever is illegal alien, every country has the right to send them back to their original country. They made up the name Rohingya recently to trick the world. We the people of Myanmar have been pissed off and we no long want to hear about these people. These people do not have human hearts. They will never try to fit in with non-Bengali people. If UN has compassion for them, UN must resettle them somewhere which is not Myanmar. They poop everywhere. They urinate everywhere. They steal. They rob. They cheat. They rape. They kill. Nobody wants these people as their neighbors because of their behavior.

    • Military has been cheating everyone in Burma so much so that people only like to speak and do bad things only. They are made to see the dark side only and never the shinning light.

      See Burmese encyclopedia Vol.# 9 where you will see clearly that Rohingya has been an ethnic group of Burma. The 1st Shan President said if Rohingya is not an ethnic group then none can claim as ethnic in Burma. There are thousands and thousands of proof that Rohingya are pure ethnic of Burma. It is totally untrue that Rohingya are originated from Bangladesh.

      Those who want to be blind, deaf and dump then no one can make you aware of the truth. You are only following your own desire. So pity of Burmese people who see military junta is right then wait for many generations to bring democracy that you are struggling for. Do not kill yourself while killing others.

  3. Burma still need changes

    Nearly 1 Million have been cheated on by fraudsters. Hope they would realized they have been cheated by this Christmas.

  4. Most people which sign in such are not at all or very low informed on all issues to this very much western driven petition
    , well organized with a global network of people which sign everything which comes across just to be also there…
    Thein Sein had a good plan last year it should get more attention and UK noe when Thein Sein gets there today 14.7.2013 UK should shoulder parts of the problem
    in Rakhine also as in many countries where British just massed up after taken all valuables from the countries they conquered. Take Thein Sein plan as a discussion base
    and work from there,—at least for the illegals after they are known – many are legal and have citizenship or white cards …

    Until now main questions are un answered ,
    – how many Bengalis are in Rakhine
    – how many are legal
    – how many have already citizenship
    – how many have first step “white Card “already which entitles them to Vote ( in 2010 and in 2015 ), installed by Sen gen Than Shwe,
    – how many are illegal through birth without papers
    – how many are illegal through illegal border crossing before 2010
    – how many are illegal through illegal border crossing after 2010
    – how many illegal Bengalis live in Yangon
    – how many illegal Chinese live in Myanmar ( upper as Mandalay and north – how many in lower Myanmar )
    – How Many illegal Rakhine live in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia ( etc rest of the world )
    – How Many illegal Myanmar live in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia ( etc rest of the world )
    – How many Rakhine still have property ( illegal taken through Rakhine Kind from 1750 onwards ) and relatives in Bangladesh – Chittagong
    – How many Bengalis did the British bring to Rakhine after 1830
    – How many Bengalis did the British take back after 1935
    – How many Bengalis did the Rakhine King made slaves and took to Rakhine before 1750
    – How many Bengalis did the Rakhine King made slaves and sold to the Dutch for Garden work in Malaysia before 1750
    – Why should the UN be against two child policy ( free will but well educated ) from today on in Rakhine for all Rakhine,
    – But UN and INGO s call it t Family planning in Africa with a chip implemented to African women, which prevents for 3 years – after consultation , based on free will cost 10 Euro
    – Why is a Muslim father which can not educate and feed even two children in Maungdaw force his wife to have 6 ore 12 that is also against Human rights if the wife and child
    – Can ASSK , INGO s and UN not see here the rights of the wifes and children – does they see only the father ????

    and so on – only when you know the real numbers the problem can start to be solved as the – Illegal number might be much smaller as the
    always total number of Bengalis in Rakhine which is used by any idiot as a reliable number.
    Thein Sein had a good plan last year it should get more attention and UK noe when Thein Sein gets there today 14.7.2013 UK should shoulder parts of the problem
    in Rakhine also as in many countries where British just massed up after taken all valuables from the countries they conquered. Take Thein Sein plan as a discussion base
    and work from there,—at least for the illegals after they are known – many are legal and have citizenship or white cards …

    Oliver

  5. It is the power of Islam that even if a Muslim is a murderer, rapist or criminal or an illegal migrant, all muslim must support and protect that muslim as dutiful Muslim.

    There is no Rohingya in history of Burma. It is an invented word trying to legitimize illegal People from Bangladesh in Burma. The dispute had cleared in. The Guardian in1952 already.

    The government of the Great Britain knows the best. They the are creator of so call Rohingya problem and should push India, pakistan and Bangladesh to take back their people.

    • Ha Ha Mr ye,

      Who is the rapist, murderer and killer?
      How can you know if your purposely want to keep yourself deaf, dump and blind?
      Look with the heart and mind of justice. Do not kill yourself please.

      Remember, false never prevails and the rights always win.

  6. For crime Committed “The Massacre of Muslim Ignored!” 39467
    The Irrawaddy in Meikhtila….39467 Masscare of Muslim Ignored
    It is the best time to take Thein Sein in Custody
    and send him to Internatioal Court of Justice

    Court of Justice

  7. I wonder one thing for petition signatories was almost( 1-million ) for Bengali- Rohingya. The actual number in Myanmar government record was just over ( 100000 ) Bengali- Rohingya in Myanmar. But international media record was approximately ( 800000 ) Bengali-Rohingya in Myanmar.
    My question is below. Please consider your self from both party.
    1. Why, international media is focus only on Bengali -Rohingya issue?
    2. Why, they didn’t mention about ethnic Arakan suffering?
    3. Why, international media and communities were so pity on so-called Bengali-Rohingya and no country want to come up for Bengali-Rohingya resettlement in their own country?
    4. Why, they always force to Myanmar government to give legal status to those intruder Bengali- Rohingya groups.? Since , there were lot and lots of Muslim country in this world .
    5. Is it Muslim country will try to build another dynastry in this world?
    6. Why, International community were ignoring on native Arkan people, those who face their life were treatening from they believed this so-called intruder Bengali- Rohingya.
    7. Why, International media and communities were so side lineded, Is it beause of, their funds were come from OIC or Muslim countries?
    8.Why, international communities were so helpful for this so-called Bengali- Rohingya terrorist groups,? according to the news in.above this pages.
    9.Why, international media were not mentioning native Arakan’s suffering and Buddhist monks were killng by those so-called Bengali- Rohingya intruders.
    10. Why, internationa media and communities were mix up Myanmar muslim and Bengali Rohingya intruders in this issue. It is totally wrong. Myanamar Muslim were heart kinded and purely whole hearted. There were some of Myanmar muslim in Myanmar and they all doing well with their neiboring and their communities. Those are,1. Niang Groups ,2. MMM, 3, MOTHERLAND CONSTRUCTION GROUP,4, FAHTERLAND CONSTRUCTION GROUPS, 5, SKY CONSTRUCTION GROUPS. 6. NILAR DANPAUK,7. and lot and lots of of Myanmar muslim were doing good bussiness in Myanmar . Please, don’t mix with this so-called intruder Bengali- Rohingya. Why, they did knowingly and purposely mix up with this two difference groups.
    As in Myanmar, we all know that Myanmar muslim were so kind to their neigborhood and they does not have any problem at all, before this intruder Bengali- Rohingya intruder make some noiceses in Northern Myanmar. They are the one who created all this causes. Since, there were lot and lots of pitition for thess people, the world has some space and you are allow to well come Bengali-Rohingya in your country. Don’t force to Myanmar government to issue legal status to these terrorist groups.

    I just want to know your fit back and we can discuss for our beloved poeple and coutry’s benefit.

  8. I hope Islamic countries in Europe and OIC member countries should take all illegal Bengali Migrants from Rakhine state. It is best thing and best solution for those illegal Bengali migrants future because they were rejected by their own Bangladeshi Government. Bangladeshi Government accused them as criminals and terrorists.

    Also resettling in Rakhine state will invite another communal riot and endanger regional stability across the Burma.
    For Burmese Government, it will be difficult to guaranty safety of both sides of communities as long as illegal Bengali migrants are living in Rakhine state.
    Burma and Burmese peoples are not anti Muslim but we are dealing with illegal migrant issue.

    All Burmese Muslims in Burma have National Identity card and they are Burmese citizen.
    Illegal Bengali migrants so called Rohingyas are not Burmese Muslim in fact they are Bangladeshi Muslim.

    Some who do not have National Identity card are they obtain national Identity card illegally by bribing immigration officer before 1990. They do not have proved for their citizenship and permanent address when Military regime issued new National Identity card in 1990.

    I have talk and email exchange with some of Rakhine peoples and I do understand what they feeling and their wishes on illegal Bengali migrants issue on their land.
    On the other side, the descendents of Burmese ethnics in Sittagong Hill Tracts are also enormous pressure from illegal settling and robbing farmlands by Bengali settlers. Some of native peoples from Sittagong Hill Tracts are fleeing their homeland to Rakhine state for their safety.

    Also Indian Government should think about 4 millions plus illegal Bengali migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, Manipur and other states.

    Here’s my suggestion and resolution for illegal Bengali migrants from Bangladesh is resettle all illegal Bengali migrants from Burma, Chittagong Hill Tracts and India to one of Adaman Islands. Those Adaman Islands are currently under India Government control.
    British colony Government had planning for to relocate all Anglo- Indian and Anglo-Burma peoples from India and Burma to Adaman Islands in the past. The plan did not go ahead after given Independent to Burma and India. The British Colony Government let India Government to take control all Adaman Islands chain.
    Once, Bengali ethnic is subject of British Colony Empire and Bengali ethnic is one of many ethnics of India too.
    It’s possible for British and India to taken-care of illegal Bengali migrants from Rakhine state.
    Also Indian Government will be benefit from employing those Bengali and developing undeveloped and uncultivated lands in Adaman Islands.

    OIC has money to fund resettling of illegal Bengali migrants from Burma.
    UN Chief Ban Ki-moon should consider this suggestion as one of options for illegal Bengali migrants’ problem in Rakhine state.

    Forcing on Burmese Government and Burmese peoples to accept those illegal Bengali migrants as one of their ethnics by UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, OIC and other Human Right Organizations is unjust and unfair to peoples of Burma.

    Noble Peace Prize laureate great Human Right activist and former South African President Nelson Mandela did not order to South African Immigration Department for to grant citizenship to all illegal migrants from other African nations.
    He did not include all illegal migrants to be granted naturalized citizenship in 1995 National Citizen Act of South African.

    Why UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, OIC and other HR organizations keep bulling on small country like Burma?

    • See yourself first the dust behind you before you blame others.
      Is it right to kill others! It may be just because you see yourself high and mighty.
      Thousands of mighty people have been destroyed from this earth surface.
      Do not wait for those punishment please.

  9. When Bangali Rakhine crossed the border and entered Rakhine state they were greeted with warm welcome. They become legal citizen of Burma next day. But where muslims who lived so many years in Rakhine state could not call themselves Rohingya though lot of historical books referred them as Rohingyas. Calling Rohigyas as Bengali is kind of decease recently spread. While Rohngyas were strong 1950-1962, nobody dared to call them Bengali. This all depends on power. Current Military thugs are using the tactics of killing two birds with one stone. By creating problem between Rakhine and Bengali ( Rohingya ) they will make both communities weak. Some Rakine who are farsighted could understand the cunning tactics of Junta thugs But some paid Rakhine will listen and fell in the trap of Govt. The media who wrote against Burmese Buddhist and in favor of Muslims and UN, HRW were blamed as biased and tools of OIC and Muslims Govt. One fake rape case of Rakhine girls is more important than 10 brutal murders Muslims in Rakhine Burma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.