Rohingya refugees attend mark the first anniversary of the 2017 military crackdown at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on August 25, 2018. / AFP
DHAKA — Several Rohingya organizations and activists have united to form a group to demand human rights in Myanmar.
The Arakan Rohingya National Alliance (ARNA) called for Rohingya unity and said the Muslim community was not secessionist.
It said the Rohingya wanted to be part of a future federal democratic Myanmar to uphold peaceful coexistence through unity in diversity.
The groups said it would work with the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and United League of Arakan in Rakhine State to achieve full and effective equality and the right to self-determination, like other ethnic groups in Myanmar.
An online press conference on Sunday aimed to unite the global Rohingya diaspora and announce the alliance’s intent to achieve self-determination for the Rohingya in Myanmar.
Rohingya leaders thanked the Bangladeshi people and government for sheltering more than a million Rohingya refugees. They also condemned the killing of a Directorate General of Forces Intelligence officer, Squadron Leader Rizwan Rushdee, by a criminal gang on Myanmar’s border on November 14.
An ARNA statement said: “For more than half a century, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been brutally murdered, raped and tortured by Myanmar’s military and regime-sponsored non-state actors. The violence reached a peak in 2017 when Myanmar’s brutal military led the worst genocide of the 21st century in northern Rakhine State, forcing more than a million Rohingyas to cross the border into Bangladesh where they currently live in squalid refugee camps aided by the Bangladesh government and international aid organizations.
“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 the Rohingya people, including half a million stuck inside the open-air prison of Arakan [Rakhine].”
Rohingya leader Nurul Islam will chair ANRA’s central executive committee and the prominent Dr Yunus and Reza Uddin will be the vice chairs.
Other members include U Kyaw Min, Aman Ullah U Tun Khin, U Nay Saw Lwin, Dr Hla Myint, U Zaw Min Htut, Dr Habib Ullah and Dr Abu Siddique Arman.
Retired Dhaka University international relations academic CR Abrar, a specialist on refugees, welcomed the move and said unity is essential for the persecuted community, many of whom are genocide survivors.
Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya activist and advisor for the NUG, told The Irrawaddy: “There is no such thing yet in the Rohingya community as representation. I wish one day it will exist. It must be secular, inclusive, and diverse and uphold human rights.
“The Rohingya are an issue for Myanmar which impacts the region heavily and must be tackled with the core leadership of emerging youth and female leaders in Myanmar and civil society organizations leaders in Myanmar.
“The diaspora may offer support but history suggests no issues in Myanmar will be solved by leaders overseas. While unity is needed more than ever in the Rohingya community, it needs to be initiated with principled and correct processes to avoid endangering the Rohingya.”