Rohingya Activist Attends Annual White House Iftar Dinner

By The Irrawaddy 23 June 2015

Wai Wai Nu, a young Rohingya activist based in Rangoon, was among the guests at a dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday night.

The dinner was an Iftar—the traditional breaking of the daily Ramadan fast at sunset—held in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Wai Wai Nu, a 27-year-old activist and former political prisoner who is working to build trust and promote peaceful coexistence and prosperity in her home state of Arakan in Burma’s west, was seated at the president’s table.

Wai Wai Nu was jailed along with her family under the former military junta after her father, a Rohingya, was elected as a member of parliament following the 1990 elections—the results of which were never honored by the ruling regime.

In remarks at the dinner, the US president referenced the plight of Muslims suffering around the world during Ramadan, including the stateless Rohingya minority in Burma.

“Tonight, we keep in our prayers those who are suffering around the world, including those marking Ramadan in areas of conflict and deprivation and hunger,” Obama said.

“Those fleeing war and hardship in boats across the Mediterranean. The people of Gaza, still recovering from last year’s conflict. The Rohingya in Myanmar, including migrants at sea, whose human rights must be upheld.”

He added: “We’re proud to have Wai Wai Nu with us tonight, a former political prisoner who’s working on human right issues for the Rohingya and equal rights for women.”