It seemed to be ridiculous to me while I along with about five hundred delegates from different corners of the world gathered in Cologne, Germany, on 2nd May 2018 and were discussing about Rohingya crisis as the destitute faces of the Rohingyas leading inhuman life in refugee camps in Bangladesh were frequently peeping out in my mind and mocking me. The big hall room with air condition of the five-star hotel located at the very side of the historic Rhine River reminded me the congested make shifts of the Rohingyas made of bamboo and polythene without any window or ventilation facility and mosquitos, germs and other insects and different diseases are the all-time companions of them. The dazzling carpet floor hall room was laughing at me reminding the dirty muddy floor of the Rohingya camps.
However, it is also a matter of joy for me sensing that at least some people have deeply felt that this burning crisis should be solved. The title of the international event “Arakan Conference: Rohingya Crisis and Solution” also seemed to be very time-befitting. Actually, while a country like Myanmar is not allowing any international media and aid agencies in Rakhine State, now a death zone for the minority Rohingya Muslims, before the very nose of the so-called world leaders including the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, India and the like what can do a charitable organization like Hasene International. So I am pleased with this Turkish based organization for holding such a big conference for building awareness among the world people for solving the crisis.
Excluding the busy schedule of the two-day conference I had the opportunity to talk privately with so many scholars during breakfast or lunch or dinner times. They frankly told me that the world’s treatment towards Muslims must be changed for a peaceful globalization. The East Timor separated from Indonesia and got independence while the South Sudan was also awarded equally by the intervention of the world’s leaders. But every crisis related to the Muslims is being complicated day by day due to the dual role of the world community. The world leaders are treated Muslims as mere Muslims and terrorists and hardly consider them as human being. The case of Rohingya is also same. This is such a fact that cannot be uttered in open session, most of the scholars said while I asked them about the root cause of Genocide by the Mynmar army and extremist Buddhists.
Despite the reality, the open speeches of some scholars in different formal sessions of the conference were really vibrant and influential. Professor Dr. Abid Bahar of the Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was very emotional at one stage of his speech. He urged the world leaders to treat Rohingya Muslims as human being for the greater interest of justice. He even loudly claimed, “I am Rohingya because I am a part of humanity”. The whole audience was very much enthusiastic by this speech and welcomed the proclamation with huge hand clapping.
One of the organizers of the conference Kemal Ergun urged the world’s leaders to look at a place where thousands of people are being treated without any mercy, where no state rules are applied, where injustice and torturing are prevailing. Referring to a guideline of Prophet Muhammad (sw) mentions all Muslims as single body, he said that it was the obligatory to us to come forward for helping Rohingya Muslims. Leaving the hypocritical attitude like most of the world leaders in dealing Rohingya crisis he urged all to play role like a real player. Mere condemnation would do nothing good for the destitute Rohingya Muslims; rather they need to get back citizenship rights along with justice against the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Myanmar army and extremist Buddhists, he emphasized demanding permission for independent NGOs to work in Rakhine State.
Chairman of Hasene Relief Organization Mesud Gulbahar said that Rohingya crisis is no more a national crisis, it is a world crisis. A permanent and peaceful solution is a must. Referring to a Hadith he said, whenever any irregularity is seen in any place it should be barred directly by hand if possible, or should be protested by speech or at least should be hated. The inhuman torturing on Rohingya Muslims should be stopped immediately by force if needed, he opined reminding that Rohingya Muslims are our brothers and sisters. He said that we want to live in this world together with peace and harmony but it does not mean that we will keep our eyes close despite gross ill treatment to our brothers and sisters.
Former Father of Australian Parliament and former Attorney General Philip M. Ruddock MP said that everyone has the freedom to proclaim his or her religion. The Rohingya Muslims also have the right to follow their religion and talk in their own language. He urged for continually work to ensure an independent inquiry about the reported genocide and human rights violations in Rakhine by the Burmese army and extremist Buddhists. Welcoming the bilateral treaty between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees he urged Myanmar not to impose any condition that may complicate the peace process.
Arakan Rohingya National Organization-ARNO chairman Nurul Islam said that it was nothing new. The Rohingya Muslims have been deprived since the last six decades. They are the victims of political and religious discrimination. All Rohingya refugees should be repatriated to their homeland with full protection by the world community, he said adding that the joint conspiracy against Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar government and its military should be stopped immediately.
Meanwhile, former Malaysian foreign minister Dr. Syed Hamid Albar expressed concern about the conspiracy to establish pure Buddhist state in Rakhine State after ousting the Rohingya Muslim from the territory. He also condemned the weak role of China and India in stooping reported genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rakhine. Condemning the unresponsive role of Myanmar government to international laws and tradition the former minister urged on dialogue and effective engagement of world communities to solve the problem.
Burmese Human Rights activist Dr. Maung Zarni said that our first identity is that we are human being. He urged all international organization to hold the spirit of humanity and then approach to deal Rohingya crisis. Describing the pathetic condition of Rohingya refugees he appealed that whenever we visit any Rohingya camp either in Bangladesh or in India or any other places just hold them, hug them because they need love, they need courage. It is not a Muslim issue, a Buddhist issue, a Christian issue or Hindu issue; rather it is a humanitarian issue, Maung said urging the world community to ensure human rights of Rohingya Muslims.
Noted author and activist Dr. Habib Siddiqui while talking as panel discussant in a session of the conference said that there is no doubt about genocide and human rights violation in Rakhine State ushered by the Myanmar army and extremist Buddhists. He demanded that at least 75 thousand Rohingya women have been raped.
Meanwhile, chairman of Burma Task Force, USA, Abdul Malik Mujahid termed the situation more devastating. He claimed that at least 100,000 Rohingyas have been killed while 120,000 Rohingya women have been raped. He informed that 52 percent of the Rohingya women talked to the United Nations have been raped. He said that a draconian ruling has been operated on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State for decades after decades. Rohingya Muslims need permission before marriage and even conceiving child after marriage. He opined that without citizenship and full security Rohingya repatriation process should not be started.
Mehmet Ozturk, World Languages Editorial Director of Anadolu Agency, said that due to different types of pressure journalists very often have to cover Rohingya news just as much as allowed. He criticized the step of Myanmar government for not issuing visa for international journalists to cover Rohingya issue in Rakhine. He also opined that the real scenario might be more serious as journalists very often fail to understand the language of Rohingya victims. A good number of Rohingya refugees fled genocide and ordeals came to Bangladesh from remote parts of Rakhine State who can’t tell their stories in most cases.
However, representatives from other vital organizations like Amnesty International and other human rights bodies also took part in the conference. The common view of almost all experts is that it is an international crisis and it should be solved properly. Exodus of more than one million people from a particular state is not a matter of joke or an internal issue. If this problem is not handled properly, it would affect the overall global peace. They opined that the reported genocide and human rights violation should be tried immediately. Otherwise, a culture of unjust will be established as a serious threat to the global peace.
Finally, having the knowledge of speaking with a good number of Rohingya refugees and frequently visiting the Rohingya camps, it’s felt that mere reliefs or shelter at the camps is not the permanent solution of the Rohingya crisis. They also need to be empowered and leadership should be grown so that they can solve their own problem. Then the repatriation process must be started with full citizenship rights and security under international communities. For the sake of establishing justice and peace for future world the genocide, ethnic cleansing, raping and other crimes against humanity conducted by the Myanmar army and extremist Buddhists must be tried.