Media Group Aims to End Violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar
The Rohingya are an ethic group based largely in South Asia and Southeast Asia, with a large majority living in Myanmar. They speak their own language, and predominantly practice Islam, and are recognized by the UN as among the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world.
In Myanmar, Rohingyas are not given citizenship rights because the government treats them as illegal immigrants.
Ethnic violence involving the Rohingyas has risen in recent years in the western part of Myanmar. Riots erupted as Rohingyas were accused by hardline Buddhist groups of fomenting violence in the country. The clashes displaced thousands of Myanmar residents, mostly Rohingyas, who are now living in refugee camps.
Unfortunately for the Rohingyas, domestic opinion in Myanmar is unfavorable. Even supposedly pro-democracy opposition leaders have remained silent over the persecution experienced by many Rohingyas.
Despite a growing peace movement in the country, racial hatred towards the Rohingyas has not abated. There is a need to promote a better understanding about the situation of the Rohingyas and should include an appeal to end violence and discrimination directed towards the Rohingyas.
One group documenting the plight of the Rohingyas is the independent media channel Rohingya Vision. We conducted an e-mail interview with Muhammad Noor, Managing Director and one of the organisation's founders about their work and the challenges they face.
What is the goal of Rohingya Vision?
The aim of RVision is to educate and train the Rohingya youth and intellectuals on various Rohingya issues related to history, geopolitics, Burmese policies, international affairs and political analysis. Within the last two years we can proudly say that Rvision has become the most successful and largest Rohingya media in the Rohingya community.
The group decided to focus on videos because most Rohingyas are not able to read or write. In order to reach a bigger audience, they use the spoken Rohingya language in producing their videos.
Rohingya Vision has correspondents across the state of Arakan who gather daily news in Rohingya, Burmese, and English languages. One of its popular programs is the 360 Degree talk show with MD Noor, which is considered as Myanmar’s first political talk show in the Rohingya Language. The program aims to educate the public by featuring Rohingya leaders and their activities.
A recent newscast from 17 March, 2013:
But aside from covering political issues, Rohingya Vision also has programs that tackle religion and traditional culture. It features Qur'an translations in the Rohingya language. It also highlights traditional Rohingya food, music, and even wedding rituals. MD Noor cites a few examples:
During weddings, Rohingya elders are singing a song called HONLA. A dish called DURUSKOORA is specially cooked by a mother-in-law for her son-in-law. When a daughter is pregnant, a mother cooks and sends some a special food called HAADI.
How do you pursue your media work amid the generally unfavorable opinion against the Rohingya inside Myanmar?
Unfortunately, majority of the people in Burma [Myanmar] is totally in the dark with regard to the government’s internal policy towards the Rohingyas. There is one sided hatred, racial profiling, faking of history and sponsoring of ethnic cleansing and genocidal activities. They are fuelling and feeding false information to the rest of Burma so that everyone hates Rohingya. Ultimately, their genocidal objective become easier to accomplish.
Slowly, RVision is able to tell the other side of the story so that people can understand the Rohingya point of view. Through our efforts, we hope to change the Burmese perception of the Rohingyas. But it is a 60-70 year-old issue and it will take time and tremendous energy to arrive at a solution.
Are you concerned that the safety of some of the contributors may be compromised by the work you do? How do you address this?
We are strict with security and we adopt very high security measures to ensure the safety of our contributors and supporters. Even our studio news anchor has no idea about the source of our information; it is completely handled and verified by different parties outside our studio. Such security measure is needed because, for the last one year we have a confirmed lead that many people were arrested and harassed by Burmese authorities because they were suspected of being RVision reporters. In some cases, people have been fined for watching RVision talk shows and news program. We also have a report that local authorities and intelligence agencies are closely monitoring RVision activities to the extent that they translate our Rohingya language programs […]
The plight of the Rohingyas is not necessarily well known around the world. What techniques do you use to spread information to new places and people?
We are fully aware that what we are doing now is not enough because we are limited by resources such as manpower, finance, contacts etc. but still our small scale network of supporters is strategically placed in many countries such as Burma, Saudia Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Through this network, we do campaigning on the ground level to introduce the issue; at the same time we are trying to expand our media cooperation initiatives. From time to time, we organize or take part in seminars and conferences to explain the plight of the Rohingyas around the world.
Myanmar is embarking on a historic democratic transition, but this process is continually undermined by ethnic violence and lingering impact of the Junta dictatorship. To achieve lasting peace and justice, it is important for Myanmar to recognize the suffering of its ethnic citizens. Through media groups such as the Rohingya Vision, it is hoped that there will be more initiatives that promote dialogue and understanding between the Rohingyas and other ethnic groups of Myanmar.
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The military government always claims the conflict is between the ethnic rakhine and Rohingya and the government is trying to solve the problem. But the real truth is the military government wants to eliminate all Rohingya and Muslims from Myanmar. The real truth is the military government is in close relationship with rakhines and Buddhist monks to killed Rohingyas at large. The rakhines and Buddhist monks have become the agents for the military government to eliminate Rohingyas and Muslims across Myanmar. That is why the government allows the rakhines holding arms with them.
The prove is one month before this attack, U Wirathu the Buddhist monk has gone into Arakan State for few weeks to see all the Buddhist monks from all 17 divisions and conducted religious lectures. U Wirathu is not only a Buddhist monk but he is also a leader of 969 group that was establish to harm and killed the ethnic Rohingyas and other Muslims from Arakan States and across Myanmar. About a month after he return to Rangoon, the attack on Rohingya has started in Kela Daung Village.
On 14 January 2014 60,000 Buddhist monks has a meeting in Mandalay. They urge the government to check the background of all Members of Parliament whether they are real citizen. The government must check their ethnic group. They also urge the government to stop the Benggali who hold the white card from voting in the coming election. The problem is most of the Rohingyas in the Arakan State were forced to accept the white card and change their identity from Rohingya to Benggali in order to save their lives. If they Rohingya refuse to accept the white card, the security forces will kill us.
The International Communities and the United Nations has condemned the Myanmar government many times but to no change. The world has seen the Rohingya openly become the victims of GENOCIDE for more than 60 years but they fail to stop it. There are lots of evidence that Rohingya are the victims of GENOCIDE in Myanmar but none of the MANDATED BODIES can stop it.
In the end of last year 14 foreign Ambassadors from Ranggon visited Arakan State. They made the announcement of bad conditions of Rohingya in Arakan State. They also sent a strong letter to Myanmar government to protect the Rohingya’s rights and grant citizenship to Rohingya. Unfortunately to date there is no feedback.
This year 2014, Myanmar is the Chairman of ASEAN. It is very shameful to Myanmar government and ASEAN as they conducted such a mass killing of its ethnic Rohingya not even a month after holding the position.
Now is the time to take real action. We urge the United Nations, World Leaders, OIC, ASEAN and International Communities to react to the injustice and cruel treatment towards the Rohingya by the Myanmar government. The world must stop dealing with Myanmar until they stop the GENOCIDE on Rohingyas. We cannot wait until the Last Rohingya on this earth.
Mr. Zafar Ahmad Bin Abdul Ghani
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)
Tel No: +6016-6827287
You are doing a good job despite the fact that there is a lot of hi cup and limitation. Regarding Rohingya’s liberty to Citizenship, I wish to assert as follows:-
1. The Rohingya is as if from the soil of Arakan,
2. The Arakan was ruled by the several Hindu dynasties prior 7 & 8 centuries A.D;
3. The dynasties were factually considered from the Aryan stock of people while the Magh are not part and parcel of the Aryan stock of people, look at their faces, thus they are not from the soil of Arakan;
4. The Rohingya is part and parcel of the Aryan stock of people;
5. The Rohingya(Islam) started to evolve in Arakan since 9 centuries A.D;
6. The Rohingya started to developed there in 12 centuries onward;
7. The Rohingya had been Arakan’s King-makers and subsequently King of Arakan starting from 13 centuries till December 1784 A.D;
8. The AD 1784 can be marked as the date Magh and Burmese extremists joint hands to exterminate/cleanse/annihilate Rohingya from the soil of Arakan;
9. British occupied Arakan in 1824 AD and later the 20,000 Rohingya refugees came back to Arakan then;
10. in AD 1885, the whole Burma was occupied and ruled it as a state of India-British;
11. In AD 1936, Burma was given a separate rule, thus re-beginning of ethnic cleansing policy on the Rohingyas;
12. During the Second World War, the Rohingyas sided British with the hope to regain their Arakan from the Magh and their co-religionists while the Magh sided Japanese armies, thus fuelling petrol to the then existing fire of enmity between Magh and Islam/Rohingyas;
13. In consequences of siding as per para 12, 1942 AD massacre on Rohingyas was orchestrated by the then Magh and Burmese leaderships;
14. Rohingyas was recognized as ethnic during the 40 years of Burmese rule-solidarity period between Magh and Islam Rohingyas;
15. Millions of Rohingyas were in Arakan when Burma got independent from British in 1948 AD;
16. Rohingyas had not been denied as not ethnic of Arakan prior, during and after the independent of Burma;
17. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas were holding Burmese citizenship cards then and till 1982;
18. The 1982 Burma Citizenship Act was especially promulgated by BSPP’s MPs under the infamous-notorious military general Ne Win just to cancel/ revoke Rohingyas’ liberty to citizenship right;
19. The Act was meant agains Islam/Rohingyas, thus every MPs voted for it;
20. The Rohingyas’ citizenship right is being revoked with evil intent to make the Arakan free of Islam;
21. The Burma government has no right to deny the Rohingyas as citizens as the Rohingyas were not applying for the citizenships; and
22. Rohingyas are already citizen by birth and soil of Arakan, thus they Burmese successive regime revoked the Rohingyas’ liberty to citizenship rights, and the current apartheid like civilian style military regime simply endorsed/approved the policy of revoking citizenship rights of Rohingyas during the BSPP/socialist regime. Hence, majority’s persecution and oppressed on minority, for the minority has no might, no will, no men, and even, maybe, lack of faith to confront the majority. Moreover, we have been running away from the Arakan leaving it per se like those hypocrites who left the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.s), Hussain Bin Ali (r.a) and his few relatives in Karballa, Iraq at hand of the hands of Ziyad Bin Mawiyyah.
Our Muslim brother from Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and so on has respectively donated millions dollars for the purpose of Arakan. Unfortunately, they have been in the wrong hands who have been misusing the fund for their own families and votes to remain as leader.
Advocate & Solicitor
Right now the Rohingyas of Myanmar are facing a problem that can only be compared to some extent with similar problems we find in Pakistan and to some extent to some of the other countries in the Middle East. There is a mountain range on the western side of Pakistan known as Hindu Kush, meaning the killing fields of Hindus. Hindus are not welcome there. Similarly, the idea of the Buddhist population in Mayanmar is that the country is only for Buddhists and the others are all illegal immigrants. They have also named the Muslims living there as Rohingyas and they are busy now to drive them all out. They do not care to notice that people of may religions are living together peacefully all over the wold. To them, all the Muslims are illegal immigrants except the Buddhists.
A tricky point. A question now comes automatically that how Buddhism came to Myanmar? It was brought by the immigrants? Or by Lord Buddha himself, when He came down to Myanmar after his birth in a small village in the foot hills of Nepal? What about, Thailand,
Japan,China? Buddhism was taken in those countries by immigrants? – Lord Buddha visited those countries too?
Live and let live should be your idea of a good living.