South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

‘We the Rohingya have been subjected to a textbook genocide which has gradually escalated since my childhood’

The Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC), a leading global activist group led by and for the Rohingya people, is set to host a two-day international conference at Barnard College in New York City from February 8.

At the international conference, the FRC will call for accountability and protection for national minorities in Burma (Myanmar), said a press release from the activist group posted on its website on February 1.

“On September 18, 2018, the United Nations International Independent Fact-Finding Mission released a 440-page report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva that found ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Myanmar, now run jointly by disgraced human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military, is committing the gravest crimes in international law,” the press release said.

“The most serious of these [crimes] include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against national minorities like the Rohingya, Karen, Kachin, Shan, and others – some of whom have fled to the United States as refugees. Within the last decade, approximately one in four US -bound refugees have been ethnic and religious minorities from Myanmar,” it added.

“Buddhism is a religion of absolute compassion for human suffering, and it is unacceptable that Buddhists can be marred by such absolute and immovable hate,” said Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the conference hosts and professor in humanities at Columbia University.  

“As engaged scholars and intellectuals of conscience, we cannot ignore this ongoing genocide.  We urge the global community to raise their voice to end the atrocities,” Spivak added.

FRC coordinator Razia Sultana, author of the book “Rape by Command” that documents mass rape against Rohingya women and girls by the Myanmar military, said: “We the Rohingya have been subjected to a textbook genocide which has gradually escalated since my childhood.” 

Razia Sultana is a Rohingya whose parents fled Myanmar after a brutal military purge in the 1970’s.  She pointed out that Myanmar has also targeted other ethnicities. “Minorities in Myanmar like the Buddhist Rakhine, who have lived alongside my people for centuries, and Christian minorities like the Karen and Kachin, have not been spared persecution.”

Last December US House of Representatives, in a nearly unanimous vote, declared Burma’s atrocities against Rohingya people in 2017 as “genocide” and called for the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Myanmar Reuters journalists who were framed and imprisoned by Aung San Suu Kyi government for reporting on Rohingya mass graves, the press release further said.

UN Special Rapporteur Professor Yanghee Lee told the conference organizers: “Rhe order by the State Government [of Myanmar] to refuse access to humanitarian organizations with the exception of the ICRC and WFP into northern Rakhine is entirely unacceptable and a serious violation of Myanmar’s international humanitarian law obligation to allow humanitarian aid.”

Internationally renowned activist and scholar Angela Davis said: “I will boycott Myanmar until and unless it stops repression and atrocities against its own national minorities including Rohingyas, Kachins, Karens, and Rakhine.”

The 35-speakers set to address the conference include: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee; Daniel Taylor, the plaintiff in Australia’s Crimes Against Humanity Case against Aung San Suu Kyi; Professor Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the Global Study on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace & Security; Professor Gregory Stanton, founding president of Genocide Watch; Tapan Kumar Bose, renowned Indian journalist, activist and filmmaker; Dr Jeff Crisp, former head of Policy Development and Evaluation at UNHCR; May-Oo Mutraw, advisor to the Karen National Union; Dr Azeem Ibrahim, author of “Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide”; Genocide whistle-blower and prominent Buddhist scholar-activist Dr Maung Zarni.

Updated On: February 4th, 2019