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Rohingya rights groups form alliance for self-determination, dignified survival in Myanmar

Several leading groups, prominent activists came together to form Arakan Rohingya National Alliance, which its co-founder views as an urgent need

[Anadolu Agency]

For the first time since the genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in Aug. 2017, several leading organizations and prominent activists have formed a greater alliance titled “Arakan Rohingya National Alliance (ARNA)” with the aim at ensuring the persecuted community's safe and dignified survival in their homeland.

Nay San Lwin, a founding member of ARNA and co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that a unified representation of the Rohingya was necessary at relevant international forums, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

Among the diaspora and refugee communities, Rohingya has dozens of organizations, but none of them is the only representative, Lwin said, adding that a stronger collaboration among Rohingya organizations was required to represent the entire community.

He accused the country's military of genocide against the Rohingya and stated that the Myanmar army is not their ally.

“We do not need to be precautions about what they (Myanmar Army) think of us. The most important for us is how we can bring this military to justice and ensure our rights in a new federal democratic union of Myanmar,” Lwin clarified in a written response from Germany to the Turkish news service questions.

“We, senior politicians representing several organizations and activists, formed ARNA. We are in the beginning chapter. We will soon include the youths and women representing our fellow brothers and sisters in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar camps in our alliance,” he added.

Arakan Rohingya National Alliance

The ARNA is expected to bring together many Rohingya leaders residing at home and abroad in order to achieve the right of “self-determination of the Rohingya people within the Federal Union of Myanmar,” the newly-formed organization said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The leaders of the alliance were quoted in the statement as saying: "The Rohingya are not secessionists, but want to be a part of the future Federal Democratic Union of Myanmar. They expressed their desire to cooperate with all stakeholders inside Myanmar."

Underlining the ARNA as the first joint effort after the 2017 genocide and brutal military crackdown on the Rohingya, it said: “A broad coalition of the Rohingya organizations, politicians and activists have joined together in a common platform, a development greeted with hope by Rohingya people, including million refugees and half a million stuck inside the open-air prison of Arakan.”

Claiming that the Rohingya are interested in peacefully coexisting with other ethnic nationalities of Myanmar, the statement noted that the genocide survivors aspired to “work together with the opposition National Unity Government (NUG) and United League of Arakan (ULA).”

The NUG is a Myanmar government in exile formed by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of elected lawmakers and members of parliament ousted in the Feb. 2021 coup. The NUG has been recognized by the European Parliament as Myanmar's legitimate government.

The ULA, on the other hand, is an Arakanese political organization based in Laiza, Myanmar's Kachin State, and it is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), a political negotiation team comprised of seven ethnic armed groups in the country.

According to the ARNA statement, “They (Rohingya) are committed to upholding peaceful coexistence on the agreed upon union principle of unity in diversity. Rohingyas also expressed their support and solidarity with other persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the country.”

The Rohingya are expecting unequivocal policies that guarantee their right to exist in Arakan on the basis of "full and effective equality," as well as their inalienable "right to self-determination," the statement added.

Alliance to end decades-long perils

For more than a half-century, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been brutally murdered, raped, and tortured by Myanmar military and regime-sponsored non-state actors, the statement claimed.

The violence peaked in 2017, when Myanmar's brutal military carried out the worst genocide of the 21st century in Northern Arakan/Rakhine State, forcing over a million Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, bringing the total number to 1.2 million in overcrowded camps in the border district of Cox's Bazar.

Former international relations professor at Dhaka University and analyst on refugee affairs C R Abrar told Anadolu Agency that the formation of such an alliance is a very positive development.

“At this time of continued genocidal policies of the Burmese government, the persistence of international apathy for a durable solution and concomitant aid fatigue, and growing anti-refugee stance of several of the host countries,” Abrar believed that a united voice of the community is the need of the hour.

He hoped that the ARNA will serve as a platform for the abandoned, disenfranchised Rohingya refugees, the internally displaced people (IDPs), and the relatively articulate diaspora.

A prominent Rohingya leader Nurul Islam has been chosen as the chairman of the ARNA’s Central Executive Committee, and Reza Uddin and Muhammad Yunus will serve as the vice chairmen.

Other members of the organization include U Kyaw Min, Aman Ullah U Tun Khin, U Nay Saw Lwin, Ronnie, Hla Myint, U Zaw Min Htut, Habib Ullah, and Abu Siddique Arman.


(c) 2022, Anadolu Agency


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