Rvision’s Mohammed Noor Interviews U Abu Taher

By September 3, 2013 14:40

Rvision’s Mohammed Noor Interviews U Abu Taher

U Thar Aye @ Abu Taher is a Rohingya leader and human rights activist on a diplomatic visit to USA to seek Solutions to the plights of the Muslims in Myanmar. Mohammed Noor, Managing Director of the RvisionTV Interviews him via online regarding his visit and the outcomes of the visit.

MD Noor: Your diplomatic visit to US is about to be over? What have been its results and outcomes so far?

U Thar Aye: We have met up with US State Department, Various NGOs and many university officials. We have come to a conclusion that “Tolerance and Diversity” are needed to peacefully live together in a country. And we will work on that.

Above all, we have to create understanding among Rohingyas, Rakhines and the Government. If we keep fighting, no one will have a good end.

Our issue is a political issue. It was portrayed as if a religious issue and spread like fire all over the country.

We have come to a conclusion that we have keep to aside the sensitive issues and work on the civil right issues first.

MD Noor: Rohingya issue is a political or geo-political issue. However, it has been portrayed like a religious one. Therefore, how are you going to initiate your work on international level, taking the issue as religious or geo-political??

U Thar Aye: We have to work taking the issue as political. Because the root cause of the violence is political, not religious. The attacks were pre-planned and organized. For a sustainable solution, we have to solve political problems leading to the violence.

MD Noor: Well. There are many Rohingya organizations outside Myanmar. They say they are working with Myanmar government. What do you think? Will Myanmar government talk with the organizations in exile? Or just with the Rohingya organizations at home? Which will be more fruitful if Myanmar Government works with the Rohingya organizations in exile or with those inside the country?

U Thar Aye: Political parties will be dealt for the political problems. Myanmar government considers only those political parties inside the country as political because they are according to the laws of Myanmar. Myanmar government does not consider Rohingya organizations in exile are set up according to the laws of Myanmar. Hence, I think Myanmar government will only deal with the organizations inside the country.

MD Noor: OK! Fine. There are many Rohingya organizations working outside the country. They have been working with international community to find out the soultions to the problems in Arakan. Do you think their efforts will give any better results for the people on the ground in Arakan?

U Thar Aye: I think Government’s Table Talks to seek political solutions inside the country will only be with those people and parties that are in the country. The organizations outside can help those in the country to pave a way to hold table talk and political dialogue with the government.

Political dialogue should not be considered as pressure on anyone but as constructive engagement. The result from the political dialogue is called successive solution. It is a win-win solution.

While going through constructive engagements, we are facing three challenges:

1) denial of historical presence of Rohingyas in Burma

2) 1982 Citizenship Law

3) retrospective effects.

Hence, we have to go through four steps.

1) We have to confirm the existence of Rohingyas nationally and internationally

2) Since we have to go through dialogues, we have clarify or justify the objections or accusations such as illegal infiltration and immigration to Arakan.

3) Therefore, to have a balanced dialogue, we need to appoint an international expert as the moderator.

4) The expert must be neutral, knowledgeable of Arakan issues and have power and influence to an extent.

MD Noor: Well. It has been reported that some ethnic MPs are saying “there are some some people in Myanmar politics and parliament holding temporary nationality cards” and demanding the authority to provoke their rights to participate in Myanmar politics and parliament? Whom do you think they refer to as “people with temporary nationality?” What will be the effects?

U Thar Aye: Yes, there are some racist politicians that are trying to discriminate Rohingyas on that ground. However, the question is whether this can be implemented against Rohingyas or not.

According to Article 6, 1982 Citizenship Law, those who had already been citizens of Burma before the declaration of the law in 1982 are considered to be citizens. What had the citizenship laws been before 1982?

There were two citizenship acts: 1948 Citizenship Act and 1948 Citizenship Election Act. Why was it felt necessary to declare two acts in a year? In Section 11, 1947 Constitution, there are four sub-articles regarding citizenship. To implement the first three of these four sub-articles, 1948 Citizenship Act was established. These three sub-articles are:

1) Every person, both of whose of parents belong or belonged to any of the indigenous races of Burma;

2) Every person born in any of the territories included within the union, at least one of whose grand parents belong or belonged to any of the indigenous races of Burma;

3) Every person born in any of territories included within the union, of parents both of whom are , or they had beenn alive at the commencement of this constitution would have been, citizens of the union.

And again, 1948 Election Act was established to implement Sub-Article 4, Section 11, 1947 Constitution which says:

4) Every person who was born in any of the territories which at the times of his birth was included within His Britannic Majesty’s Dominions and who has resided in any of the territories included within the union for a period of not less than eight years in the ten years immediate preceding the date of the commencement of this constitution or immediately preceding the 1st January 1942 and who intends to reside permanently there are in and who signifies his election of citizenship of the Union in the manner and within the time prescribed by the law, shall be a citizen of the Union.

Even after 1948 Citizenship Act and 1948 Election Act, no Bama, Rakhine, or Rohingya or any other ethnic community was issued national identity card. National Identity Cards were issued (to the people that qualify under Section 11 Citizenship in 1947 Constitution) only after the 1949 Resident Registration Act and 1951 Resident Registration Rule had been drawn.

Therefore, Rohingya people got their citizenship and national identity cards according to 1948 Citizenship Act, not according to the 1948 Citizenship Election Act. Therefore, under this category, Rohingyas have got their legal rights in Myanmar.

MD Noor: Well! But oppressions against Rohingyas have been escalating day by day since June 2012. Rohingyas have been being forcibly Bengalized. So on and so forth! However, in political perspective, what are the stands of MPs of other ethnic minorities towards Rohingyas? Does the issue of Rohingya Citizenship need to pass through Parliament? As we see, only Monks, Rakhines and Bamans are protesting against Muslims. So, what are the opinions of other ethnic minorities in Myanmar towards Arakan issue?

U Thar Aye: As of the monks’ protests against Muslims, you will feel all the monks are protesting against Muslims only when you observe the situation externally. When you observe deeper, you will find out many categories of monks. There are 0.5 million monks in Myanmar. Basically, they are of three types.

1) Genuine Monks

2) Government proxies in saffron robe (created by the former junta to counter act against those monks who go against the government’s oppression.)

3) Monks who just entered monkhood for shelter after the abolishment of Military Intelligence (MI).

Hence, those who are protesting against Muslims are not the real monks but of the second and third categories as mentioned above. Therefore, there is way for a peaceful solution if we go through the genuine monks.

Besides, one of the most crucial things is that we need to go for awareness campaign all over Myanmar. Rohingya had been officially recognized as an ethnic minority until 1965. After that, Rohingya lost their ethnic status under Ne Win regime. Hence, today, many people as well as officials in Myanmar government are unaware of Rohingya’s historical existence.

There are suspicions among other minorities in Myanmar on the existence of Rohingyas. There is situation that they can’t differentiate between Bengali and Rohingya. Therefore, it is a responsibilty of Rohingya leaders and representatives at home and abroad; each and every Rohingya to justify Rohingya’s historical existence in Myanmar and create the awareness among general Myanmar people and officials.

Coming to the question whether it is necessary to pass the issue through parliament, Rohingya citizenship status needs not be considered anew in the parliament. But their ethnic and citizenship status should be restored. Rohingya had ethnic status until 1965. The former military dictators and some racists in the government just stripped off their status. Hence, it is responsibilty of the goverment to restore their status. We don’t need to go through parliament because it is not a new status for them need to be considered in parliament.

MD Noor: It is internationally recognized that Rohingyas belong to Arakan and is an ethnic community of Myanmar. They were once rightly recognized as an ethnic people of Burma. Hence, as you have mentioned, if we create awareness among the general population of Myanmar and seek their help, I think there will be solutions to the crises.

But how have we to create awareness among general people of Myanmar? What do you think what are the responsibilities of Rohingyas at home and abroad and the role of the media? How have we to work to get the help of the general people of Myanmar to solve the crisis?

U Thar Aye: To live in diversity, tolerance is required. Tolerance here means to soften and moderate the stands and opinions leading to the problems among the people. We have to begin from the basic issues resulting the probelms and to solve them to create “Relationships” among the problematic communties.

In creating “Relationship” between Rakhine and Rohingya, hatred towards to each other doesn’t matter much. Whether or not they hate each other, they must live together.

Thus, the first step to create “Relationship” between Rakhine and Rohingya is to hold a dialouge between MODERATE leaders from both parties. The second step to create the Relationship between the two communities is economical and educational (i.e. to solve their “Economic Problems” and “Educating them”).

Relationship will be soon built if we work for a common purpose based on these two factors. And it will go stronger. To sustain the relationship, we need to develop the young generation based on these two ground factors. The misunderstandings between the two communities will gradually be solved.

Therefore, in regrad to this, we are already working with the moderate leaders from Rakhine community as well as the representatives of other communties in Myanmar. Pray for us.

MD Noor: Thank you for being with us. May God bless you!

U Thar Aye: Thak you, too.




By September 3, 2013 14:40

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