Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- the Conference on “On the Plight of Rohingyas: Solutions” organized by Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF- Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia successfully ended today, 17th September 2012. The conference began at 9:00 AM with the Keynote Speech of the honorable Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth prime minister of Malaysia and President of PGPF. It was followed by panel discussions among Academicians, Human Rights Workers, NGOs and Civil Society Members.
The distinguished panelists of the conference are as follow:
First Session (Morning Session)
1. Tan Sri Razali Ismail, the former Malaysian Diplomat and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, as the moderator,
2. Benjamin Zawacki, the Regional Representative of International Law Organization and a member of Council on Foreign Relations based in New York and Washington
3. Dr. Maung Zarni, a Distinguished Burmese Political Activist and Research Fellow at London School of Economics
4. Nurul Islam, President of Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
5. Jacob Zenn, Legal Advisor of International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)
6. Matthew Smith, a Researcher for New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW)
7. Professor Dr Yunahar Ilyas, Leader of the Mohammdiyah Community, Indonesia.
Second Session (Afternoon Session)
Tan Sri Muhammad Rais Abdul Karim, Secretary General of PERKIM Malaysia
Professor Dr Wakaruddin, Professor at Pennsylvania University and the Director Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU)
Dr. H Anwar Abbas, Dosen at the Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah, Jakarta
Mr. Saiful Haque Omi, a Famous Photo-Journalist on Rohingya’s Plight and the Writer of the book “Heroes Never Die”
Dr Sriprapha Petcharmesree, a Faculty Member of the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand
Dr Abdullah Al-Ahsan, Professor and Deputy Dean at International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
The third session (evening session) was among NGO members from different countries and they discussed about sending Humanitarian Aids to Arakan.
“Most of Chinese and Indians came to Malaysia during British Colonial Period. While some of them had gone back to their respective countries during great recession in 1930s, one million people of both Chinese and Indian Community decided to live in Malaysia and call it their home. Therefore, Malaysia has given them their human rights and citizenship rights. It was at a time when the total population of Malaysia was 5 Million. That is Malaysia gave citizenship to the people who counted 20% of its total Population.
Sadly, in Burma or Myanmar, although Rohingyas have been living there for more than thousand years, yet they are denied their citizenship rights. That is totally unacceptable in today’s time. Rohingyas are undeniably an ethnic group of Burma and they entitle citizenship. Therefore, Myanmar government is required to give full citizenship to these people and solve their other humanitarian problems” remarked by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his speech.
Other panelists discussed on Rohingya’s history, how the violence started and the government exaggerated the violence and how the Burmese regime grossly violated the human rights, while photo-journalist Mr. Saiful Haque Omi presented his video documentary on Rohingyas’ vulnerable situation. Especially, it was Dr. Maung Zarni who argued with the researcher of human rights watch (HRW) on their report “The Government Could Have Stopped This!” He argued that at a time when government themselves started the violence for the political gains, why should they have stopped this? He rightly pointed out many gaping holes in the regime’s conspiracies in Arakan violence. The main purpose of the regime in the violence is to militarize Arakan so that they can give securities to multi-billion Chinese investments in the region. Moreover, he said that it will be wrong to say that the government is favoring Rakhines in the violence because the regime itself has much dislikeness against Rakhine people. Rakhines are being used and they are happy to be being used. Why? Maybe they have their own reasons. He further said that Rohingyas didn’t create their own problems but the Military regime did. Rohingyas didn’t come to Burmese place but Burmese did to Rohingyas’ place.
Finally, after all discussions, arguments and debates, the conference passed the resolutions (attached below) to find out the solutions of the Rohingyas’ plight. The conference was successfully concluded with a speech by Tan Sri Norian Mai, the Chairman of Global Peace Foundation (PGPF).
By M.S. Anwar, RB Correspondent