Dr. Hla Myint, the coordinator of International advocacy group – Bangkok Rohingya conference held in 2013 – and other Rohingya living in Australia met the Chief Government Whip, Federal member for Berowra and Australia’s longest serving Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock, MP, at an open forum in the University of Western Sydney (UWS)’s Parramatta campus on April 24, 2014, according to Rohingya advocacy group.
Dr. Hla Myint and Rohingya with the Chief Government Whip,Phillip Ruddock, MP
The open forum which focus on the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority from the Arakan (Rakhine) State in Burma (Myanmar) and Dr. Hla Myint and Dr. Sev Ozdowski, – Former Human Rights Commissioner and Director of Equity and Diversity at UWS- organised the forum, the group said.
The Hon. Philip Ruddock, MP was the chief guest speaker at the Open Forum at the UWS, gave a very strong pro-Rohingya speech and addressed the audience that Australia along with ASEAN members can play a vital role in advocating the plight of Rohingya and impose immense pressure on Burma.
Dr Graham Thom – Refugee Coordinator with Amnesty International Australia since 2000, who has been working on behalf of individual asylum seekers as well as on broader human rights issues relating to refugees- joined at the forum where he presented the plight of Rohingya across the ASEAN nations and the agonies of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. Dr. Thom emphasized the involvement of Malaysian and Thai government with human traffickers in trafficking the desperate Rohinya asylum seekers.
Banner of Open forum in UWS
Dr Sev Ozdowski, chaired the Open Forum – Rohingya people from Burma and said, “The situation for Rohingya refugees in the camps and in their communities in Burma where recent attacks have increased their vulnerability is critical.” The Rohingya Muslims have a long history of persecution and discrimination in Burma. They are viewed by authorities and the majority Buddhist population of Arakan (Rakhine) state as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, according to UWS website.
Recently, tensions arose again over a government census – the first in three decades – which led to anger among Buddhists that it may lead to official recognition of the Rohingyas, the website more added.
Both Dr. Graham Thom and The Honourable Phillip Ruddock are very close and good friend of Dr. Hla Myint and has primarily acknowledged the vital role of Dr. Hla Mint in facilitating this forum.
British censuses in Burma of 1872, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931 and (what has not been lost of) 1941 make no mention of ‘Rohingya’ as an ethnic or language group in Burma, according to Derek Tonkin. But, a Rohingya researcher –Mohammed Asharff Alam- said there is also no name of Rakhine in the census at that time in Arakan.