Dr. Maung Zarni
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6 October 2015
The Hague, Netherlands: From 1-3 pm today, Europe’s Rohingya refugees from Myanmar/Burma will hold a protest rally at the International Criminal Court and officially deliver petition to the ICC officials in order to call the court’s attention to what renowned scholars, genocide researchers and international law practitioners call Myanmar’s slow genocide of the Rohingya. The European Rohingya Council, the Burmese Muslim Association (BMA), Burma Human Rights Network and a wide array of Rohingya support groups in Malaysia, USA, France, Germany, India, Norway, and S. Africa are supporting the new public awareness campaign.
In a parallel development, on 2 October a group of Myanmar refugees and Burma Task Force (USA) have filed a civil case at a US federal court in New York against Myanmar President Thein Sein and a group of his deputies for the well-documented, slow genocide of Rohingya Muslims over the last several decades.
The protest organizers want the International Criminal Court to try Myanmar leaders, including President and ex-General Thein Sein, who officially violate Rohngyas’ right to self-identity and oversee the systematic destruction of a Rohingya as a distinct ethnic and religious community of more than 1 million.
Since 1979, successive military and quasi-civilian governments of Myanmar have been persecuting the Rohingya in Western Myanmar. Myanmar military has viewed Rohingya Muslims, who are pre-nation state borderlands people living along the present-day Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) and present-day Myanmar as a ‘threat to national security’ because they are the only Muslim community with their own historical ancestral land, which is adjacent to one of the largest Muslim countries. This is a baseless claim as the Rohingya are the only ethnic group that is not armed and not hostile to either the government or the predominantly Buddhist society at large.
Leading genocide researchers including those with the State Crime Initiative at the Queen Mary University of London and former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (2008-2014) Mr Tomas Ojea Quintana, and Genocide Watch founder Professor George Stanton call Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya ‘genocide’. The world renowned philanthropist and financier George Soros who escaped the Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944 likened Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims with “a Nazi genocide” he experienced as a young man after his visit to a Rohingya ‘ghetto’ in Western Myanmar this January.
At the Oslo Conference on Myanmar’s Persecution of the Rohingya held at the Norwegian Nobel Institute and Voksanaasen in May this year, 7 Nobel Peace Laureates – Desmond Tutu of S. Africa, Mairead Maguire from Ireland, Jody Williams from the USA, Tawakkol Karman from Yeman, Shirin Ebadi from Iran, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel from Argentina – issued a statement, characterizing Myanmar’s policies towards Rohingya as “a textbook case of genocide in which an entire indigenous community is being systematically wiped out by the Burmese government.”
Since the official persecution of the Rohingya began nearly 40 years ago – with periodic spikes in mass violence against them, roughly half of the Rohingya have fled the country in search of refuge, with thousands perishing in high seas or mass graves in Thailand and Malaysia before they reached third countries. The Rohingya who remain in Myanmar languish in what is commonly acknowledged as “vast open prisons” under deplorable human conditions. Myanmar has blatantly ignored UN resolutions calling for the restoration of the Rohingya’s citizenship and human rights over the last 20 years.
Dr Hla Kyaw, one of the Rohingya refugees and protest organizers based in Amsterdam, said, “We know that Myanmar has not ascended to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court. But the Security Council must consider referring Myanmar to the ICC because of the gravity of the crime being perpetrated against our Rohingya.”
Dr Hla Kyaw: European Rohingya Council, firstname.lastname@example.org & Tel. +31652358202
Kyaw Win: Burma Human Rights Network: email@example.com & Tel : +44 740 345 2378
Kyaw Zwa: Burmese Muslim Association: firstname.lastname@example.org & Tel.: +60172465782