Dr Maung Zarni, the Burmese human rights activist, chillingly described how the slow burning genocide of the Rohingya community in Burma has been ongoing for four decades at a talk on the plight of the Royhinga in the Junction on Friday 13 April 2018.
The event was organised jointly by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Commemoration Committee.
Dr Maung Zarni a scholar educator and regular on BBC World Service has been a human rights activist with 30 years involvement in Burmese political affairs. Dr Zami has been denounced as an “enemy of the state” for his opposition to Myanmar genocide of the Rohingya community.
Dr Zarni says “What the Rohingya people have been subjected to is nothing less than full-scale genocide since 1978. There is no communal conflict that has to put Rohingya in this situation. The Rohingyas are not fighting back, they are not trying to secede from Burma.”
Dr Zarni said “The situation of Rohingya is very similar to the situation that the Jewish community across the Nazi-occupied Europe faced in late 1930s and early 1940s. They are being persecuted because of their identity, because of who they are. This is a genocide that has been in slow-motion for 40 years.”
Dr Maung Zarni stunned his audience as he vividly described an incident when a convoy of Burmese army indiscriminately started killing women and children as they ran for their lives. One woman looked back to see her father shot, as he was running back to their house, while another daughter was being dragged back into the house and raped by the Burmese soldiers. Shockingly one of the soldier pickeds the brains out of the dead man and fed them to the chickens. Dr Zarni says these people were ‘scapegoated for extermination’.
The Myanmar regime reject all allegations of ethnic cleansing or genocide. The United Nations has known of this genocide for 40 years and has done little.
In February 2018, Nobel Peace laureates, Tawakkol Karman and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, visited No Man’s Land between the Bangladesh and Burma border and addressed the 6,500 refugees trapped between the two nations. There are currently 1m refugees in Bangladesh.
In Derry Mairead Corrigan Maguire spoke of the distress of listening to chilling stories from women who had been torture and witnessed murder. Mairead Corrigan described how one women was forced by the Burmese Army to throw her 6 month old into the river and then she was gang-raped multiple times by soldiers She asked ‘Why is the United Nations and International Community so silent to mass rape and torture going on again and again?’
She said Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi was only seeking human rights for the Burmese ‘She is complicit, a cheerleader for the army and the whitewashing genocide’.
Fellow human rights activist Anne Patterson has travelled with Mairead to Bangladesh to visit the displaced people. She described the story of ‘a small village in Burma and how a family took water to Buddhist monks every day. Then one day a little girl was raped by 16 monks. The little girl ran away and gathered up other kids to escape. In the displaced tents there are thousands of children disconnected from their families.
Dr Zarni and Mairead Corrigan Maguire are united that in order to truly make sure genocides never happen again, we cannot just echo empty sentiments or dispassionately soul search.
Instead, we must do everything we can to act and to make our voices heard in the quest for justice for the Rohingya people.
Tim Attwood is an SDLP Councillor in Belfast.
Photo: A group of rohingy children walking in a refugee camp in the Ukhia district, in Bangladesh. Nearly 800,000 rohingyes live in camps like this after fleeing the violence they face in their country, Burma. Source: https://mirades.ara.cat//m2663
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