U.N. committee expresses concern for Myanmar's Muslims

UNITED NATIONS Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:02pm EST

Shi'ite Muslims gather at a mosque after praying as part of the Ashura religious festival in Yangon November 24, 2012. REUTERS/Minzayar

Shi'ite Muslims gather at a mosque after praying as part of the Ashura religious festival in Yangon November 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Minzayar

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A committee of the U.N. General Assembly expressed serious concern on Monday over violence in Myanmar between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists and called upon the government to address reports of human rights abuses by some authorities.

The 193-nation General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on rights issues, approved by consensus a non-binding resolution, which Myanmar said contained a "litany of sweeping allegations, accuracies of which have yet to be verified."

Outbreaks of violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingyas have killed dozens and displaced thousands since June. Rights groups also have accused Myanmar security forces of killing, raping and arresting Rohingyas after the riots. Myanmar said it exercised "maximum restraint" to quell the violence.

The U.N. resolution "expressing particular concern about the situation of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, urges the government to take action to bring about an improvement in their situation and to protect all their human rights, including their right to a nationality."

At least 800,000 Muslim Rohingya live in Rakhine State along the coast of western Myanmar. But Buddhist Rakhines and other Burmese view them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh who deserve neither rights nor sympathy.

The Myanmar mission to the United Nations told the Third Committee that while it accepted the resolution, it objected to the Rohingya being referred to as a minority.

"There has been no such ethnic group as Rohingya among the ethnic groups of Myanmar," a representative of Myanmar's U.N. mission said. "Despite this fact, the right to citizenship for any member or community has been and will never be denied if they are in line with the law of the land."


A Reuters investigation into the wave of sectarian assaults painted a picture of organized attacks against the Muslim community. [ID:nL3E8M7ADZ] During an historic visit to Myanmar last week, U.S. President Barack Obama called for an end to incitement and violence. [ID:nL5E8MJ00Y]

"Violence in Rakhine state was just a violent communal clash affecting both sides of the community. It is not an issue of religious persecution," the Myanmar representative told the Third Committee.

During the past year, Myanmar has introduced the most sweeping reforms in the former British colony since a 1962 military coup. A semi-civilian government stacked with former generals has allowed elections, eased rules on protests and freed dissidents.

"Any shortcomings in the human rights field are being addressed through legal reform processes and legal reform mechanisms, including the national human rights commission," said the Myanmar representative.

The U.N. resolution also "urges the government to accelerate its efforts to address discrimination, human rights violations, violence, displacement and economic deprivation affecting various ethnic minorities" and expresses deep concern about an armed conflict in Kachin state.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has ordered troops in Kachin State not to attack the rebels, but has allowed them to defend themselves. The conflict there resurfaced in June 2011, scuttling a 16-year truce and displacing an estimated 50,000 people.

The Third Committee, which includes all members of the General Assembly, is also scheduled to debate resolutions on Iran, Syria and North Korea. A special General Assembly session next month is expected to formally adopt all recently approved committee resolutions.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

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AungMing wrote:

A detailed study of the recorded history reveals that both the Rakhine and the Myanmar races are illegal immigrants in occupied Arakan, the homeland of the Rohingya nation, who are the earliest known aboriginal and indigenous people of the land of Arakan.

Before the eighth century, the area now known as Arakan, had been the seat of Bengali Hindu dynasties of Indo-Aryan race. They were the very first ancestors of the Rohingya people.

A new dynasty, known as the Chandras Bengalis, was founded in the city of Vesali in 788 AD. Arab and Persian seafarers after the advent of Islam carried on trade by the sea-route with many parts of the world including Arakan and Burma since seventh century AD.

Arab Muslims settled in Arakan and Chittagong coasts in the eighth century. Centuries-long relations between the original Indo-Aryan people of Arakan with Arab Muslims gave rise to a unique group of people, who are now known as the Rohingya nation.

Amyathu, the chief of Mro tribe (Mongolian) of Arakan hills invaded Arakan, destroyed the Chandras and seized the throne of Vesali in 957 AD.

Rakhine people (Tibeto-Burman) came into existence after Burmese King Anawrahta’s invasion of Arakan State (First Burmese Invasion of Arakan by Burma)1044 AD.

Arakanese king Narameikhla (aka Meng Soamwun, son of king Rajathu) was the founder and first king (reigned 1404–1434) of the Mrohaung dynasty in Arakan. He was forced in the first year of his reign to flee to Bengal, where he became a vassal to King Ahmad Shah of Gaur. He regained control of Arakan in 1430 with the help of King of Bangal. He built a new capital at Mrohaung (in 1433), which remained the capital of Arakan until the 18th century. As a vassal of the Muslim kings of Gaur, Narameikhla used a Muslim title, Sulaiman Shah.

According to the 1948 Constitution of Burma, all the Rohingyas were the indigenous citizens of Burma. With the intention of Ethnic Cleansing, General Ne Win passed new racism-based citizenship laws in Myanmar in 1982, declaring all Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and deprived them of Burmese citizenship.

Systematic state-sponsored Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is in progress, rendering them refugees in their own homeland. The use of vocal forces of the civilized world has not yet been able to halt the continued slaughtering of Ronhigya Muslims in Arakan.

In conclusion, it is evident that the Rohingyas are the progeny of the earliest known settlers of Arakan, the Chandra Hindu Bangalis. In a way it is right to say the Rohingyas are of Bangla origin, but their migration has always been to the west, across the Naf river. The early Bangla inscriptions on stone pillars excavated in Arakan clearly indicate that the earliest rulers were Indo-Aryan Bangalis, not Tibeto-Burmans Rakhine or Bama people. The Rohingyas are the result of a centuries-long admixture of the original Chandras and Muslim seafarers from Arabia and Persia, starting in the 8th century AD.

Nov 26, 2012 5:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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