F Alam

Several leading Rohingya organisations and prominent activists have come together to form the Arakan Rohingya National Alliance (ARNA). The Alliance brings together many Rohingya leaders residing at home and abroad to achieve the right of self-determination of the Rohingya people within the Federal Union of Myanmar.

For more than half a century hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been brutally murdered, raped and tortured by Myanmar military and regime sponsored non-state actors. The violence reached a peak in 2017 when Myanmar brutal military led the worst genocide of the 21st century in the Northern Arakan/Rakhine State, forcing more than a million Rohingyas to escape the border to Bangladesh where they currently live in squalid refugee camps aided by the Bangladesh government and International Aid organisations. This is the first time since the genocide of 2017 that a broad coalition of the Rohingya organizations, politicians and activists have joined together in a common platform, a development greeted with hope by Rohingya people, including million refugees and half a million stuck inside the open air prison of Arakan.

Prominent leader Nurul Islam has been elected as the Chairman of the Central Executive Committee, while another prominent leader Dr Yunus will lead as the Vice-Chairman along with Reza Uddin. Other important members of the Organisation include U Kyaw Min, Aman Ullah U Tun Khin,U Nay Saw Lwin, Ronnie, Dr Hla Myint, U Zaw Min Htut, Dr. Habib Ullah and Dr. Abu Siddique Arman.

Speakers at the virtual event stressed on the need for unity among Rohingyas and said important decisions will urgently have to be taken and executed for the very survival of the Rohingya community.

The leadership said the Rohingya are not secessionists, but want to be a part of the future Federal Democratic Union of Myanmar. They expressed their desire to cooperate with all stakeholders inside Myanmar. They also aspire to work together with the opposition National Unity Government (NUG) and United League of Arakan (ULA), at the same time, expecting their unequivocal policies ensuring the Rohingya their right to exist in Arakan on the basis of “full and effective equality” as well as their inalienable “right to self-determination” consistent with other ethic nationalities of Myanmar. They said they are committed to upholding “peaceful coexistence” on the agreed upon union principle of “unity in diversity”. Rohingyas also expressed their support and solidarity with other persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the country.

Rohingya leaders expressed gratitude towards the people and the government of the host nation Bangladesh for sheltering and taking care of more than a million Rohingya refugees, saying in this era, it was uncommon for countries to show such generosity. They condemned the killing of DGFI officer, Squadron Leader Rizwan Rushde and security personnel by criminals and drug dealers.

Analysts from Bangladesh, which currently hosts the highest number of refugees following the 2017, also spoke in the zoom meeting. Speakers said that there are hundreds and thousands of children in the refugee camp who have seen their fathers killed and mothers raped by the Myanmar military, and it was the responsibility of the Rohingya leadership to see through that justice be given to this young generation. In the absence of justice, they warned that not only the Bangladesh Myanmar frontier, but the entire region would go up in flames.

Many also expressed disappointment with the international community for abandoning Bangladesh in the Rohingya refugee crisis. They said Bangladeshis had also suffered genocide and went as refugees to India and even Arakan, but while their plight was over in nine months, the Rohingya crisis will take much longer during which Bangladeshi people need to be extremely patient and humane.

Bangladeshi speakers included former Chief of Armed Forces Division Lt General (retired) Md Mahfuzur Rahman who warned that the perpetuators of the genocide were extremely i.e. the Tatmadaw should not be underestimated. Other speakers included Dr. C R Abrar, leading refugee and migrant expert who heads RMRU, Brigadier General (retired) M Sakhawat Hossain and other prominent experts on the Rohingya situation.

Speakers expressed optimism that the new Rohingya Alliance would be able to stand beside their community and solve the crisis before it gets out of control, and warned that it was extremely vital that the alliance had unity among their members and supporters. The new political group was needed at a time when the Rohingya crisis had dragged on for years without few signs of justice for the community.

The meeting ended on a farewell speech by Chairman Nurul Islam who thanked participants and activists for creating the much needed alliance.


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