Mon 24 Sep 2012
Filed under: Letters,Opinion,Refugees
We would like to draw your attention to the plight of Rohingyas, an ethnic group in Southeast Asia that has been declared stateless, and severely persecuted, by the Myanmar Government since 1972. Fresh violence began in June of this year and although there are talks and promises of democracy and political change, we see little interest in resolving the “Rohingya crisis.”
We are deeply concerned that while the other ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, primarily the Karens and Karennis, are being resettled into developed countries such as the US, there is complete indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas. Facing continued repression in Myanmar and living in squalid conditions in Bangladesh, as about 350,000 have done for the last forty years despite UNHCR presence, the Rohingyas deserve better. Why does the UNHCR not have a plan of action with regard to the Rohingyas? Speculative claims of “terror links” because the Rohingyas are Muslims cannot absolve the international community of its responsibility. We find this negligence on the part of aid and humanitarian agencies discriminatory and deplorable.
As a strong advocate for human rights all over the world, the US has a responsibility to ensure that oppression against minorities does not become the norm as in the case of the Rohingyas in Myanmar. We therefore request you to:
1) Use your good offices to convince the government of Myanmar to recognise the Rohingya population as rightful citizens of Myanmar;
2) Enable the resettlement of the Rohingya population into third countries as a humane and durable solution to the refugee crisis;
3) Provide increased financial support to countries such as Bangladesh to help lighten the burden of hosting these refugees and facilitate their resettlement.
We look forward to your prompt intervention and leadership in finding ways to resolve the crisis compassionately and permanently.
Dr. Navine Murshid on behalf of the Executive Committee Members, Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI).
(BDI is a US-based non-profit corporation promoting socio-economic development in Bangladesh.)