A seminar to emphasize the human rights situations and the ongoing persecution and discrimination against ethnic minorities in Myanmar was held at Swedish Parliament on Wednesday, February 1.
The seminar was organized by Swedish Parliamentarian Åsa Eriksson of Swedish Social Democratic Party(S), Caroline Szyber from Christian Democrats (KD) Sweden, Swedish Burma Committee(SBC) and Swedish Association Rohingya (SRA).
Representing the ethnic Rohingya community in front of Swedish lawmakers, Abul Kalam the founder of the Swedish Rohingya Association and a founding and council member of the European Rohingya Council (ERC), raised the issues of decades-long state-sponsored persecutions of Rohingya in Rakhine State.
Mr. Abul Kalam who himself was a victim of the 1978 King Dragon Operation sanctioned by the former dictator Ne Win, described the journey that his family has taken seeking sanctuary in Bangladesh refugee camp from the destructive operation, which has killed hundreds of Rohingya civilians and forced more than 200,000 Rohingya to flee their native homeland.
His family was briefly taken back into Myanmar after Ne Win’s regime reached an agreement for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees following mounting international pressure, however, the second wave military campaign in 1984 droved out his family to Pakistan and evicted all immoveable possession by the authorities.
“Over the last 40 years, half of Rohingya population have fled the country. Unknown number of them have died in the sea and human-traffickers’ hands. Some drowned in the high sea or were killed or starved to death in search of safety from the persecutions,” said Abul Kalam in the seminar describing the government policies of population expulsion.
The stripping of citizenship via the 1982 discriminatory Citizenship Law instantly causes restriction on movement, religion, education, basic health care, employment and public service, marriage and birth-control, and exposes to human rights abuses such as arrest, disappearance, torture, forced labour, high taxation and land confiscation.
He said the ongoing clearance operations in northern Maungdaw township under Aung San Suu Kyi led government following the outbreak of campaign of genocide in 2012, is alarming and parallel to Jewish community in Nazi Rule. “But the scale of the destruction (of lives) should not make our plight less serious or make light of the serious criminal nature of the Burmese government’s policies on Rohingya”, he reminded the destructive consequences of ongoing clearance operations on Rohingya community.
“We, the Rohingya people have a dream that one day Myanmar, a state today sweltering with the scorching heat of injustice and of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice – with equal rights for all people” Mr. Abul Kalam envisages the way civil rights leaders Martin Luther King did, however, he said it will come true when international communities come together to end the chronic persecution and reconcile with other ethnic communities in Myanmar.