Rohingya Vision

Activist to speak about human rights crisis in Myanmar

Image by: Kera News

Activist to speak about human rights crisis in Myanmar
September 17
11:36 2015

Burmese human rights activist Wai Wai Nu will speak to UK students at 11 a.m. Thursday about the developing political crisis in Myanmar and the unjust treatment of the Muslim Rohingya community by the Myanmar government.

Nu’s visit is sponsored by UK’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and the Louisville Center for Asian Democracy. She will be speaking in the west end room of Patterson Office Tower’s 18th floor.

“(We) have worked together in the past to expose our students to dynamic leaders who are helping shape the future of their countries,” said Carey Cavanaugh, retired U.S. ambassador and current director of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

According to an article by Nu in the Malaysian Insider, although Rohingya was once regarded as one of the eight ethnic races associated Myanmar citizenship, a 1982 citizenship law excluded Rohingya people as citizens. Nu, who is a member of the Rohingya community, said they now face civil restrictions pertaining to marriage, education and medical treatment — they lose about one third of their farming land to “distribution among non-Rohingya … villages and military installations,” and tens of thousands of Rohingya people flee to escape this treatment by the Myanmar government.

“As hardline Buddhist nationalist groups have gained support and grown in influence, so has their hate-filled rhetoric … Most of the rhetoric has been aimed at Myanmar’s non-Buddhist groups, in particular the Rohingya minority,” an article by Amnesty International said. “Waves of violence dating back to 2012 have left scores dead, and hundreds of thousands of people — mainly Rohingya — are today languishing in displacement camps in desperate conditions.”

Eighty to 90 percent of Myanmar is Buddhist, according to the Religion News Service.

“(Nu) is not much older than many students. (She) is making a genuine difference in advancing peace, democracy and human rights,” Cavanaugh said. “Wai Wai Nu has spent a quarter of her life behind bars due to her political and religious beliefs … (but that) only served to strengthen her voice and determination to improve the lives of her people.”

Nu was held as a political prisoner and sentenced to serve 17 years for “promoting the idea of a democratic Myanmar” alongside her family according to N-Peace Network, a women’s activist group in South and Central Asia.

In 2012, a presidential amnesty for political prisoners in Myanmar, released Nu after she had been imprisoned for seven years.

Nu now devotes her life to fight for the rights of the Rohingya community. According to N-Peace, she founded the Women’s Peace Network of Akaran to “build peace and mutual understanding between Myanmar’s different ethnicities, and advocate for the rights of marginalized women in Arakan.”

Cavanaugh said Nu will be “an example of perseverance (to UK students) in the face of oppression.”

“(She will underscore) the need for not just government, but also regular citizens, to actively promote fairness, tolerance and equal rights,” Cavanaugh said. “Such engagement is one of the essential foundations of democracy.”

Note: Changes have been made, KENTUCKY KERNEL is not responsible for these.




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