Tuesday January 16, 2018
Home World Myanmar&#8217...

Myanmar’s Rohingya ‘Deserve Hope’ ahead of Peace Talks, says UN Chief Ban Ki-moon

Some 120,000 Rohingya remain displaced in squalid "internally displaced persons" (IDP) camps since fighting erupted in Rakhine state between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012

0
//
91
Children belonging to Rohingya Community. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Republish
Reprint

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Myanmar to improve living conditions for its Rohingya Muslim minority on Tuesday, ahead of peace talks between leader Aung San Suu Kyi and many of the country’s ethnic armed rebel groups.

1.1 million Rohingya of Mayanmar will not be represented at the conference starting on Wednesday, but the fact Ban raised their plight – and used the term for the group that is divisive in Myanmar – may add to international pressure on Suu Kyi to address the issue.

“The government has assured me about its commitment to address the roots of the problem,” Ban told a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw.

“Like all people everywhere, they need and deserve a future, hope, and dignity. This is not just a question of the Rohingya community’s right to self-identity.”

https://twitter.com/NewsGram1/status/747664458714062848

Ban and Suu Kyi met reporters as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate launched a push to end decades of fighting between Myanmar’s military and ethnic rebels.

Suu Kyi has made the peace process a priority for her administration, which faces sky-high expectations at home and abroad after sweeping to power in an election last November to end more than half a century of military-backed rule.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in western Myanmar, however, are not being tackled as part of that process.

Many in the Buddhist-majority country regard the largely stateless Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and they are not among the 135 ethnic groups recognized by law. Suu Kyi has asked foreign diplomats and leaders not to use the term “Rohingya” because in her view it is inflammatory.

Some 120,000 Rohingya remain displaced in squalid “internally displaced persons” (IDP) camps since fighting erupted in Rakhine state between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

Thousands have fled persecution and poverty.

“I conveyed the concern of the international community about tens of thousands of people who have been living in very poor conditions in IDP camps for over four years,” said Ban.

He added that if they had lived in the country for generations, all people in Myanmar should enjoy the same legal status and citizenship as everyone else. Many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for that long.

Last week Suu Kyi picked former U.N. chief Kofi Annan to lead a commission to stop human rights abuses in Rakhine.

Peace conference

Few concrete proposals are to emerge from this week’s talks, with delegates expecting to meet every six months to discuss issues ranging from security, political representation and culture to sharing the fruits of Myanmar’s mineral riches.

The gathering has been compared to the Panglong Conference, a meeting between Suu Kyi’s father, Myanmar’s national hero General Aung San, and ethnic minorities in 1947 that led to the formation of the Union of Burma after independence from Britain.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

“The 21st Century Panglong conference is a promising first step,” said Ban. “I congratulate all participants for their patience, determination, and spirit of compromise.”

The fact that Suu Kyi has been able to bring the vast majority of the rebels to the negotiating table only five months after taking power is a sign of progress, experts say.

Powerful armed groups from regions bordering China, who refused to sign a ceasefire last October under the previous military-backed government, are now set to take part, partly owing to China’s tacit support for the talks.

As Myanmar’s economy opens up, China is vying for influence with the United States. President Xi Jinping pledged his country would play a “constructive role” in the peace process when Suu Kyi visited China this month.

Suu Kyi is travelling to Washington in September where she is likely to face questions on the treatment of the Rohingya.

Myanmar has been torn by fighting between the military, which seized power in the 1962 coup, and ethnic armed groups almost without a break since the end of the Second World War.

Casting a shadow over the talks is a recent flare-up in fighting in northernmost Kachin State and clashes in northeastern Shan State, which is home to several large groups operating close to borders with China and Thailand.

The still-powerful military has also strongly opposed talks with three groups that fought it in the remote Kokang area last year unless they disarm. The groups have said they cannot, citing continued pressure from the army. It was unclear whether they would be allowed to attend the summit.

Ethnic delegates have complained about what they saw as an arbitrary schedule set by the government.

Suu Kyi, who said little at Tuesday’s joint appearance with Ban, has not consulted the groups about the date of the conference or the specific agenda, diplomats familiar with the situation said.

“I will do my best to let all ethnic leaders attend tomorrow’s conference,” said Suu Kyi. “It’s their own decision whether they attend or not.” (VOA)

ALSO READ:

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Rohingya refugees designated as security threat to Indian jobs

0
//
3
Modi calls Rohingya as refugees security threat later and lose their jobs.
Modi calls Rohingya as refugees security threat later and lose their jobs. IANS

Dec, 21. 2017: It is several days since 17-year-old Nurankis, mother of two has heard from her husband after he left for Agra to look for a job.

Nurul Salam lost his job in Delhi after the Indian government termed Rohingyas — one of the world’s most persecuted minorities — as a “security threat”.

“I have been cooking only rice and potato for the past couple of days. That too, only twice a day. I have about Rs 20 left. We have nothing else,” Nurankis told IANS while sitting in her dark, one-room shack of blue tarpaulin and cardboard at the Shram Vihar slum of south Delhi.

IANS found several cases of Rohingyas being fired from jobs in Delhi, Jammu and Punjab because of their identity, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government asked “state governments to identify and deport the Rohingyas”.

The government’s decision was later challenged in the Supreme Court and its judgement is awaited.

“One day, they (the employer) said ‘there is no work from today for people from Burma’,” Nurankis said about how Salam lost his job at Allana, a Ghazipur meat processing company in east Delhi.

Following this, Salam boarded a bus to Aligarh, about 150 km from Delhi, to look for a job, leaving behind his four-year-old son Ubaib and three-month-old daughter Rubina. “He called from Aligarh and said people were asking for Aadhaar Card for hiring him,” Nurankis said. “I do not know where he is now.”

People who lost their jobs after the government crackdown said it had become difficult to pay rent or even eat and in some cases were forced to relocate, leaving behind what little they owned.

Rohingyas, mostly Muslims, are an ethnic minority from Buddhist majority Myanmar, who have been denied citizenship and have been facing brutality from the Myanmar military.

More than 800,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar in the last five years as a result of violence, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and there are around 21,500 Rohingyas in India.

At a tea shop near Nurankis’ shack, 22-year-old Sayedul Amin remembered the day when Salam, he and around 30 other refugees lost their jobs.

“It was a normal day and we were working when the contractor came and told us that from that day there would be no jobs for people from Burma,” Amin said.

When the refugees asked for a reason, they were told that the government might deport them any time and the company would face problems for employing them.

“I do not know how I’m going to pay this month’s rent,” said Abdul Raheem, 30, one of the refugees fired from the company.

The company laid off between 25 and 40 Rohingya refugees, according to one of Allana’s security guards.

When reached for a comment, an Allana spokesperson said that Rohingyas were contract employees and they were laid off as a “pro-active measure” after the government’s move.

However, he said only seven or eight refugees were fired.

In Punjab, Mohammad Jubair and other Rohingya refugees were asked to leave from work.

Jubair sold his cycle, gas cylinder and parts of his shack and boarded a train to Hyderabad, where he is yet to find a job or build a shack.

In Jammu, Ashik Khurana, a 17-year-old Rohingya refugee, who used to work as a cleaner at the Jammu Tawi Railway Station with about 30 other refugees, said they were asked for Indian identity cards to continue.

After gathering all refugee workers, the in-charge said: “From today all workers from Burma who do not have an Aadhaar Card won’t be allowed to work here.”

Khurana said: “Where will I go for an Aadhaar Card? The UN had told us not to make any Indian ID card. “Most of us left (the job) after that.”

At a Rohingya settlement in Kanchan Kunj of Delhi, Mohammad Saleem, 35, leader of the camp, said: “It (settlement) was like a job market, but now hardly anyone comes here to call us for work.”

“When Modi is talking like this, people would obviously see us differently,” Dil Mohammad, 60, leader of Shram Vihar settlement, said, adding: “It’s better that the government rounds us up here and shoots us.” (IANS)