Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
The 4th Congress of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) was held on 13th December 2008 in the border area of Arakan State, Union of Burma, with party leaders, community representatives, academics and religious leaders of the Rohingya people. A new Central Committee (CC) of ARNO has been formed with Nurul Islam, AFK Jilani and Habibur Rahman respectively as President, Vice-President I and Vice-President II. The Congress issued the following declaration:
We reiterate that ARNO is the representative organization of the Rohingya people emerged in November 1998, out of the merger of then existing all Rohingya political organizations, to achieve the Rohingya people's 'right to self-determination'.
We condemn the ruling military State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for its violation of human rights and perpetration of crimes against humanity, particularly in the ethnic areas, which are systematic, flagrant and widespread in Arakan against the Rohingya people.
The Rohingya and Rakhine are indigenous to Arakan and therefore to present day Burma. Before 1785 AD, Arakan existed as an independent nation for many centuries where Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya coexisted peacefully. We will work to re-establish the traditional relationship of peaceful-coexistence that existed in the past between the Rohingya Arakanese and the Rakhine Arakanese peoples, and to promote a shared sense of being Arakanese among all peoples of Arakan.
The unity of the Rohingya people worldwide is indispensable, and the unity between Rohingya and Rakhine is vital to shape our own destiny in the Union of Burma to ensure our future and that of our children.
We express our grave concern over the current 'policies of exclusion' of the Burma opposition groups or democracy movements and Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) towards Rohingya. We affirm that the political process in Burma shall be genuinely inclusive on democratic principle. We are committed to pursuing a peaceful political settlement of our problem.
We are not part of any struggle outside Burma and are committed as a community within Arakan to rebuild the State. Our vision for the future is a diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Arakan society.
We are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future Rohingya generations their ancestral history, their ethnic identity.
We are determined to improve the condition of the Rohingya people living abroad, specially those living in refugee camps and those tolerated as guests or illegal workers – their legal status, human security, living conditions, access to health and educational facilities, jobs and training opportunities.
We support the rights of Rohingya women and girls to education, health and economic empowerment. For the future generations' heritage we pledge to protect environment and preserve a green haven for our children and the world.
We welcome support from any group worldwide as long as they respect our goal, specially our vision of tolerance and respect for all religious and human rights for all in Arakan.
We appeal to international community, UNO, OIC, ASEAN and neighbouring countries, and NGOs for a permanent solution of the Rohingya problem.
Rohingya National Congress
Dated: 13th December 2008