Rohingyas call for ARU chief’s dismissal

In a controversial interview with the Voice of America, Director General of the Arakan Rohingya Union, Dr Wakar Uddin has stunned Rohingyas by stating that ICC prosecution of Myanmar’s Generals is uncalled for.

Rohingya Khobor points out where and how his statement is out of touch with reality and does not reflect the sentiments of the people-

Wakar implies the top brass of the Myanmar military might not have been implicit in the gross human rights abuses that took place last year. We would like to point out that the operations against Rohingya civilians were led by soldiers from the  and 99th Light Infantry Divisions (LID) who were flown in to Arakan from other areas, including Kachin state where government forces are engaged in a conflict with Kachin people. The LIDs have an infamous reputation of suppressing dissent and are known to have committed hideous brutalities against ethnic minorities and had mercilessly put down the pro democracy movement of 1988. The LIDs serve as the foundation which upholds the fascist military regime of Myanmar. Anyone with the faintest idea about the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) knows the LIDs are tightly controlled by the top brass of the Burmese military and the man with the ultimate authority over these elite and battle hardened soldiers is no other than the Tatmadaw chief Senior General Min Aung Hlain. Soldiers from the 33rd and 99th LID divisions were systematically deployed in the beginning of August, much before August 25, thus leaving little doubt that the generals had planned the massacre of Rohingyas even before the ARSA attacks of police outposts. It is impossible that a leading academic and activist like Dr Wakar Uddin is unaware of these developments.

  • Wakar clearly states that most Rohingyas don’t want the involvement of ICC, and those advocating ICC role in the prosecution of the generals are in a minority. This is because, he says, Rohingyas are ready to forgo justice as long as they get citizenship and security! The claim is a direct affont to the millions of Rohingya people, whose brothers have been killed and their sisters raped. It is impossible to fathom how a mother whose infant children was seized from her womb and thrown into the fire would not want justice even if she is given citizenship and security. Will the Rohingya whose entire family including children was intentionally killed by rocket fire, gunned down or hacked to death, forgo justice if only given citizenship or even security? Many men, women and children have lost their entire families dont have anyone for whom they can demand security or citizenship,all they have is the hope for justice. In this regard, Wakar, a top representative of our people, paints us a people without backbone.

Neither is citizenship and security possible without justice. Burmese generals have been conducting brutal atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities for more than half a century, and the Rohingya Muslims, have borne the brunt of these merciless crimes. as they are portrayed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. But even for a military regarded as one of the most oppressive in the world, the genocidal operation of 2017 exceeded all limits. No one seriously expects the fundamental brutality of Burma’s military rulers fuelled by the hatred of religious minorities shall change from within. The rising tide of populist Buddhist nationalism has in fact created an atmosphere where the popularity of the military has increased following the genocide of 2017 as they were seen as protecting the state from Muslim intruders. The citizenship of the Rohingya, known in Burma as ‘Bengalis’ is a taboo issue in Myanmar, and cannot be implemented without bringing the Generals to justice. Most Rohingyas demand some sort of foreign intervention, and many have high hopes that the ICC will bring the perpetrators to justice. Whether or not ICC will be successful can be a matter of debate, but the implication that only a minority of Rohingyas want ICC involvement is ridiculous.

Dr Wakar categorically states that any ICC investigation should cooperate with the government of Myanmar. However, not only is Myanmar not a signatory to the Rome Statute, it has issued statement after statement denouncing the role of the ICC. Sen Gen Ming Aung Hlaing even stated, the UN has no right to interfere in this regard, and such a mindset, the ICC is anon entity for him. Might we remind Dr Wakar that Myanmar is a member of the UN, just like other countries in the world.

Additionally, since 2016, when the Tatmadaw initiated a genocidical operation in Northern Maungdaw, Myanmar has repeatedly denied access to international journalists, fact finding missions, foreign delegates and other stakeholders except guided tours where the victims were forced to toe the government line. This has  always been the modus operandi of the Myanmar government. We would like to remind Wakar of the Kiladong massacre that took place not too long ago, or the riots of 2012 that obliterated Muslim communities in many areas. It was the time when Wakar was made the DG of ARU and he should remember fully well how the regime shut off access to the affected areas. Under such circumstances, how does Wakar expect the ICC to cooperate with the Tatmadaw! It is only through harrowing accounts given in the refugee camps of Bangladesh that the world learned about the horrors of the Rohingya genocide.

It is incredible and at the same time disappointing to see that after the worst massacre of Rohingya people that has virtually destroyed Muslim existence in their ancient homeland, Wakar looks for an amicable settlement not only with the NLD, but even the Tatmadaw. The Tatmadaw has planned and executed the genocide of Rohingya Muslims since half a century. As for the NLD, the Rohingyas had once shown unwavering loyalty for Aung San Suu Kyi. For us, the word Suu Kyi was synonymous with freedom. But instead, Suu Kyi chose to ride on the tide of populist Buddhist nationalism, and her actions shielded crimes committed by the army men against defenceless Rohingya men, women and children.

The ARU was originally founded with the vision of uniting different Rohingya organisations. However, it now seems that this organisation is being led by a man who is either out of touch with reality, or is in league with the powers that are executing the genocide of our people. Either way, it seems that most Rohingyas would want Dr Wakar out of this organisation which once given high hopes to the Rohingyas.

Rohingyas call for ARU chief’s dismissal