March 17th, 2013
BRCA delegates together with special guest Mr. Htay Lwin Oo, Rakhine and Rohingya history researcher from USA and U Maung Ba from Singapore attended to the forum “Debating Democratisation in Myanmar/Burma” held on Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia in 15-16 March 2013.
BRCA contacted to ANU a day prior to the forum and raised the concern over RNDP party participation in the forum and informed that BRCA delegates would be joining to the forum. Upon arrival to ANU forum, ANU gave a chance to BRCA to present our statement in the forum to audience for three minutes.
BRCA Delegates Team In front of “Exiled To Nowhere; Burma’s Rohingya” Photo Exhibition
The forum had discussion of different topics and aspects such as Political & Economic, Democratisation in big picture, Lunch of “Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya” and Ethnic politics in transition etc. On second day (16.03.2013), U Oo Hla Saw from extremist Rakhine National Democrtic Party (RNDP) gave speech on how Rakhine state has numerous natural resources and Rakhines had their own dynasty in the history and now it is all controlled by central government and Rakhines people do not get any benefit from it etc. In his last speech, he focused on Rohingyas and said that “there were small Muslim community in Rakhine state in last dynasty and majority of Muslim population arrived during British colonial time were Chittagonian Bengalis. Rohingyas are the descendent of those Bengalis and Rohingya term is appeared after 1950s and whole Rakhine community initially supported to President Thein Sein’s words to deport Rohingya people to a third country.” However in his last speech, he clearly mentioned that Rakhines people likeRohingyas to get citizenship, move freely and settle down anywhere in Myanmar. It is noticeable point that he used Chittagonian Bengalis term to explain the initial history but used Rohingya Muslim term in the following speech.
After U Oo Hla Saw finished his speech, Mr. Htay Lwin Oo was invited to give speech for three minutes on behalf of Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (BRCA). Mr. Htay Lwin Oo explained to the audience that Rohingyas are the native of Rakhine state by showing the ancient stone script, the evidence before and after colonial time and the family censorship evidence etc. Some of the points made during his speech are “At the beginning of British colonial time, Rohingyas were one third of the population which was 30000 and with high birth rate as the Burmese government mentioned, it should be in millions. I am also a Rakhine ethnic but a Rakhine muslim. Rakhine leaders are lack of historical knowledge and giving wrong information to the public, media and international communities. When I challenged to Rakhine historian Dr. Aye Chan in a conference in Thailand organized by Rakhines, he had to accept finally Rohingya term existence and but tried to deceive the audience by saying Rohingya name was used for Rakhines. When asked to Dr. Aye Chan whether he is a Mohameddan (Muslim), he could not answer.” During his speech, Mr. Htay Lwin Oo also requested to audience to take the copies of historical evidences of Rohingya existence and BRCA distributed it everyone in the room.
After Mr.Htay Lwin Oo speech, the questions and answers program was started and from BRCA, Mr. Mohammed Anwar (President), Mr. Tin Maung, Mr. Maung Hla, Dr. Hla Myint and Mr. Thein Moe Win (Burmese Muslim) asked various questions in regard to Rohingya existence in Burma throughout history, violence committed by Rakhine extremists, police forces and security forces etc. and who is responsible for violence against Rohingyas and what RNDP did to prevent the violence against Rohingyas if RNDP respect human rights and sympathize Rohingyas etc.
U Oo Hla Saw answered that the current Rakhine conflict issue is very complicated and RNDP do not have any power in Rakhine state and therefore Central Government is responsible for all the chaos, committed crimes and creating conflicts between Rohingyas and Rakhines. He also mentioned that he respect and sympathize all Muslims including Rohingya Muslims and do not like any oppression against these people.
It is quite remarkable that U Oo Hla Saw only used the term Rohingya and Rohingya muslims during his answers in front of all Burmese and international communities. He also did mentioned that Rakhines want to live peacefully with Rohingyas Muslims.
After the questions and answers section finished, BRCA delegates team took a picture together with U Oo Hla Saw as per above photo to send the message to everyone that Rohingyas and Rakhines can live together peacefully again as before in Rakhine state.
After the forum section, Rohingya delegates visited to the photo exhibition “Exile to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya
It is reported that there were around 150 audiences in the forum.