Rohingya at the International film festival and forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) in Geneva: The persecution of Myanmar’s Muslims

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Tun Khin , the President of Burmese Rohingya Organization-UK (BROUK), participated in the International film festival and forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) and Rue 89 presented a film- Myanmar, Mantra of Rage by Evan Williams, and organized a debate program- the persecution of Myanmar’s Muslims- the end of the film show, on March 11, 7:00pm, at the Maison des arts du Grütli – 16, rue Général Dufour, 1204 Genève, according to FIFDH website.


The film- Myanmar, Mantra of Rage by Evan Williams and it run only 17 minutes. The Mantra of rage exposed the life Buddhism and current position in Burma. Buddhism is a faith famous for its pacifism and tolerance. But in several of Asia’s Buddhist-majority nations, monks are inciting bigotry and violence – mostly against Muslims. Recent sectarian violence in Burma has left more than 250 Muslims dead. In a Dateline Special from Myanmar, Evan williams reports on the graphic footage of Muslims being attacked and their neighborhoods torched. He asks if the anti-Islamic teachings of Buddhist monk, Ashin wirathu, a self-professed – Buddhist Bin Laden-, could be behind the increasing attacks. In an interview with Evan, Wirathu blames Muslims for the violence and voices concern that they will take over Myanmar. With support in high places and an increasing following, could wirathu’s views end up having an impact on the crucial 2015 elections?


Tun Khin, the President of Burmese Rohingya Organization-UK (BROUK), Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Chris Lewa, founder and director of The Arakan Project and Matthew Walton, Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies, University of Oxford, are main speakers in the debate, where Pierre Haski, co-founder of Rue89 played as moderator, the website satated.

The moderator, Pierre Haski had given the background information of “The persecution of Myanmar’s Muslims” before starting the debate as in June 2012, the state of Rakhine in Myanmar erupted in communal violence. Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims left 250 dead. The world had its eyes opened regarding the decades of controversy and persecution of a group from neighboring Bangladesh regarded by Myanmar’s Buddhists as illegal immigrants. This Muslim population has been deprived of its basic rights. Approximately 800,000 Rohingyas are today confined to northwestern Myanmar. Often considered stateless even if they are born in the country, they are subject to multiple restrictions on marriage, work and freedom of movement. Hundreds of thousands of them are also victims of forced displacement.

More seriously, influential fundamentalist Buddhist monks target Muslims in speeches. The Myanmar population is generally hostile – even Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi (1991) has been accused of indifference to their suffering.
Beyond the human tragedy, the Rohingya question must be seen in the context of the current transition in Myanmar: democratization, following the establishment of civilian rule in 2011, power struggles, nation building and the need to transcend ethnic diversity. More broadly, the hostility against Rohingyas echoes a fear of Islam throughout the region. Beyond this complexity, it is important to denounce the intolerable abuses perpetrated in the face of international silence regarding this Muslim minority, he more stated.
“It is a great honour to speak at the film festival in a big crowd where more than 300 people attended including government policy makers, academics. It is also very encouraging many people in Geneva are supporting our cause. Rohingya situation was even highlighted in Geneva Newspaper,” BROUK President Tun Khin said.


Tun Khin spoke about and current update situation and international community failure to act. He also pinpointed at the debate international intervention is the only way to save the Rohingyas. The soft approached by International community to President Thein Sein is encouraging to kill more Rohingyas. It is also important EU members of states and others to support international independent investigation what happened to Rohingyas in Arakan State since June 2012 and October.

Quintana mentioned that the whole Burma there is some reforms and Rohingya situation is going totally opposite direction. He mentioned that “The pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

Chris Lewa talked about her recent trip to Arakan and particularly highlighted humanitarian aid and healthcare is urgently needed in IDP camps. She addressed international community have to take as an urgent matter to stop expelling MSF from Arakan. She showed the pictures with PowerPoint to the audience.

Matthew Walton spoke about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and she is in dilemma condition to speak about the violence. He Mentioned about Buddhism is peace and lack of justice accountability by President Thein Sein Government.

The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) was inaugurated in 2003. The inspiration and impetus behind the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights came from human rights defenders active in NGO’s, filmmakers, media representatives and the University of Geneva.

The FIFDH coincides with the UN Human Rights Council’s main session. This simultaneous event makes the Festival a Free Platform for discussion and debates on a wide variety of topics concerning human rights.

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