The Multicultural Development Association of Queensland (MDA) hosted a community information session organised by Brisbane’s Rohingya community.
Approximately 130 people attended, with about half being non-Rohingyas, an excellent turn out considering it was a public holiday. Four panelists provided short presentations; Michael Hayworth [Amnesty International], Senator Claire Moore, Sujauddin Karimuddin and Hossian Jahur [Rohingya community representatives]. A 30 minute period of Q&A followed.
The audience heard how the Rohingya people are of Muslim descent and are native to the northern Arakan region of Burma (Myanmar) which also borders Bangladesh. Currently an estimated 800,000 Rohingya live in Burma, with another 500,000 outside Burma mainly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand. The Rohingya community in Queensland is approximately 400.
While the Rohingya representatives expressed deep appreciation to Australia for providing a safe and secure environment, they could not forget what they left behind and the continuing persecution of their people.
The audience heard claims (and according to the UNHCR) that Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted people in the world. The Burmese Government stripped most of them of their citizenship in 1982 therefore making them stateless. They are not allowed to travel without official permission, have restricted access to basic education and medical care, are banned from owning properties and are required to obtain permission to get married and sign a commitment to have no more than two children.
Recent unrest has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands being displaced along with thousands fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh where their treatment is not much better.
Senator Claire Moore spoke about her recent trip to Burma and that on the occasions she raised the issue of the Rohingyas with Burmese government and opposition officials, neither would engage in conversation on the issue.
Senator Moore also said Australia is providing $1 million in emergency aid to provide clothing, blankets and basic supplies for people left homeless by the current conflict.
Australia has also recently announced it will double its aid to Burma.
The evening very much highlighted the need for the Rohingya (and other minority groups) in Burma to be afforded basic human rights, not least through the repelling of the 1982 Citizenship Act. Community members and concerned people were encouraged to lobby their federal Parliamentarians on the issue.
The evening finished off with some excellent Rohingya cuisine.
For latest UNHCR report visit http://www.unhcr.org/506eac079.html
Rohingyas of Queensland
Source: Crescents Community News
Photo Credit: Crescents Community News