Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Rohingya Nation in Crisis

Published: April 28, 2014, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

The government of Burma (Myanmar) joined 143 UN member states on 13 September 2007 approving without reservation all of the principals and mandates contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Included in the mandates for endorsing states is that decisions by the state affecting the rights and interests of an indigenous people shall not be taken without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected people. Burma is a state largely formed as a result of the British colonial policies and as a consequence the state was formed on top of more the 150 distinct nations without their consent. The Burmese government, by virtue of its endorsement of the UN Declaration in 2007 essentially promised to apply the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” when taking decisions or making policies affecting any and all of these different peoples.

Despite the official commitment to the world the Burmese government has become more intractable as it institutes policies violently harmful to the rights, health and well-being of the Rohingya Nation’s more than 1.6 million people located on the Indian Ocean west coast of Burma. The Rohingya Nation is one of ten nations endorsing the CWIS sponsored Joint Statement of Constitutional and Customary Indigenous Governments prepared for submission to the 13th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meeting in New York on 12 May 2014. Rohingya citizens. More than 100 thousand Rohingya are forced by the Burmese government to live in the Kyein Ni Pyin Camp designated as the place for internally displaced people near Sittwe, the state capital.

Location of Rohingya - Sittwe

Forced from Sittwe the Burmese military after the Rohingya riots in 2012, the Burmese government is conducting a policy deliberately aimed at degrading the health and well-being of Rohingya in the camp. Burma’s policies toward the Rohingya causing a serious health crisis, dislocation of populations and general violation of human rights violates the government’s pledges in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Burmese government has been practicing various forms of culturecide, and even genocide against the Rohingya as well as the Karen, Chin and other indigenous nations. The Burmese government justifies its harsh treatment by claiming that the Rohingya immigrated from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesch. Even though there is no evidence of the claim there is no doubt that even if it were true, the Burmese government is obligated to treat the Rohingya consistent with Human Rights Conventions and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The world cannot any longer ignore the violence against indigenous peoples carried out by the Burmese (Myanmar) government; and uppermost must be consideration and protection for the Rohingya Nation.

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