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U Kyaw Min of Burma: An MP without Citizenship
by Rohingya Human Rights
2008-02-05 09:13:02
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Burma, a resource-rich country of 678,500 sq. km and 57.6 million people which the military rulers have turned into a secret state of terror during its 46 years of unbroken despotic rule and where a Nobel Peace Laureate like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and many other members of parliament are languishing in detetion or jails years after years, the issue of U Kyaw Min can not usually make a story.

But the case of U Kyaw Min alias Master Shamsul Anowarul Hoque deserves special attention as it is different in nature from legal point of view and it carries a different perspective which is related to the fate of 4.5 million Rohingya ethnic minority of Arakan, Burma.

U Kyaw Min is a Rohingya by ethnicity. He has been sentenced to 47 years imprisonment and at the same time his wife Daw Tiza, his two daughters Kin Kin Nu and Way Way Nu and his son Maung Aung Naing have also been sentenced to 17 years imprisonment respectively. Now all of them have been passing a nightmarish life in the jail in Burma. The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) which is serving as a government in exile with its headquarter in Washington D.C., states about him:

"U Kyaw Min(age 54), the representative-elect (MP) of Butheetaung Township constituency (1), belongs to the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) and a member of the CRPP, was detained on 17 March 2005, A statement was released by CRPP on last Union Day, in which U Kyaw Min took in active part. Besides, he met with ILO delegation, which visited Burma on 21st to 23rd of February 2005. He was sentenced to 47 years imprisonment on 29 July 2005. His wife, two daughters and a son were also sentenced to 17 years respectively. The junta banned the NDPHR under order No. 8/92 on 18 March 1992, and at that time U Kyaw Min was a member of the party's Central Executive Committee. U Kyaw Min received a Bachelor of Economics degree from the Rangoon Institute of Economics in 1968, and in 1969 he began working as a teacher. In 1983, he received a Diploma in Education and served as the Deputy Head of Buthidaung Township Educational Department. In 1985 he became a middle school principal but was dismissed from the position in 1989 because of his involvement in the August 1988 uprising. U Kyaw Min received 30,997 valid votes or 74 % in the 1990 elections." (Source here)

U Kyaw Min was born in the village "Mikyanzay" under Buthidaung Township in Arakan State of Burma in 1944. In 1988, he led anti government democratic uprising as the chairman of "Democracy Fighting Committee" of the Mayu Division and at the same time he was the executive member of Arakan State Peace Commitee whose chairman was the then Head Monk of Arakan State and which was maintaining the law and order situation in the whole Arakan State during the two months of chaotic and volatile period of 1988 when there was virtually no governance in Burma. He was also the adviser to the " 88 Generation of Mayu Division". However, after the landslide victory of U Kyaw Min in the general election of 1990, the military rulers took it as a big dust on their eye. In 1992, he was put in detention for 3 months in the custody of the military intelligence during operation "prataya". He was again put in detention for 15 days when a senior official of the UN visited Buthidaung in Arakan State. In 1994, an insurgent group launched several offensives in western Arakan, then the military intelligence again put him in detention for 45 days eventhough he has never supported any separatism and has continuously raised his voice for the communal harmony and peaceful coexistence of all communities of Arakan particularly the Rohingyas and Rakhines under the Union of Burma. Finally, in March 2005, he was arrested from his residence in Rangoon and was charged under Section 18 Citizenship Law 1982 and section 5(j) Anti State Emergency Law .

Mentionably, after he joined the CRPP (Committee Representing the People's Parliament) in 1998 at the invitation of Daw Aung Suu Kyie to represent the Rohingya ethnic minority, the main pro-regime party"NUP" (National Unity Party) invited him to join NUP to support military backed national convention and to resign from CRPP. But he did not agree and this has brought serious wrath of the military rulers and the ultimate consequence was the handing of 47 years imprisonment.

From February 21 to 23.2005, a high power delegation of ILO (International Labor Organization) has visited Burma and they have held an exclusive meeting with him and after the visit of that delegation, Burma was suspended from ILO and then the military rulers suspected him to have played an active role in the suspension of Burma from the ILO.

However, the imprisonment of U Kyaw Min under the allegation of not being the citizen of Burma, is a part of systematic persecutions of Rohingya ethnic minority of Arakan. U Kyaw Min has got his graduation from the Rangoon University on the subjects of Bachelor of Economics. As per the Burmese law, this subject is not allowed to study for foreigners. For 18 years, he has held a number of different positions in the government job, which is not allowed for someone who is not the citizen of Burma. It is also true that the Election Commission of Burma never allows a foreigner to participate in a general election. But despite the Election Commission knew it very well that he is a Rohingya, he was allowed to run the election after scrutinizing his nationality status.

Mentionably, an amendment to the Burma citizenship law in 1982 deprived the Rohingyas of citizenship, suddenly making them illegal immigrants in their ancestral motherland where they have been living centuries after centuries and whose presence in the region can be traced back to the 7th Century. However, this amendment has reduced them to the status of a Stateless Gypsy Community of the world.

The Burmese military rulers do not want to know and let others know that the Rohingyas have a long history, a language, a heritage, a culture and a tradition of their own that they had built up in Arakan through their long history of existence there and in order to garner support among the Buddhist majority Burma, the military rulers have continuously run their criminal propaganda against the Rohingyas to such a level that many people still believe that Royhingyas are foreigners and that they do not belong to Burma.

Particularly since the takeover of General Ne Win in 1962, the Burmese military rulers have been continuously stepping up their systemic program to ethnically cleanse the Rohingyas from their ancestral homeland and they have been altering the demography of the region through extermination and displacement of the Rohingya population, demolition and confiscation of Rohingya properties and construction of Pagodas and monasteries on the demolished sacred sites of the Rohingyas to obliterate the identity of the Rohingyas. In Arakan there is a vast number of written and unwritten discriminatory rules which govern the lives of Rohingyas. They are subjected to severe restrictions of movement, which affect their ability to trade and to seek employment as well as limit their access to health care and education. The Rohingyas must apply for written permission to travel out of their home villages, and another permission document to sleep overnight in another village. Akyab (Sittwe), the capital city of Arakan, is totally off limits to them. Marrying without permission – and permission is often denied or delayed – can bring hefty fines and prison sentences and turns children of such "illegal" marriages into stateless non-persons. For the decades-long downtrodden and poverty-stricken Rohingyas, complying with the myriad restrictions requires an onerous and mostly unofficial payment every step of the way. Arbitrary confiscation of land without compensation continues, either to provide land for new Buddhist settlers or to build and enlarge military camps, including plantations to grow crops for the military for their own food as well as for commercial purposes.

Since the promulgation of the new Burma Citizenship Law 1982, the Rohingya students are denied their basic rights to education outside Arakan. It is important to point out that all professional institutes are situated outside Arakan. Thus, the Rohingya students are unable to study there because of such travel prohibition. In recent years, the Rohingya students are prohibited from even going to Akyab (Sittwe) to attend Sittwe University for their studies. These draconian measures barring Rohingyas from attending universities and professional institutes are marginalizing them as the most illiterate section within the Burmese population. They are forced to embrace a very bleak future for them.

Traditionally, the Rohingyas are a farming community that depends on agricultural produce and breeding of cattle and fowls. Unfortunately, they are forced to pay heavy taxes on everything they own: cattle, food grains, agricultural produce, shrimp, tree, and even roof of their homes. Even for a minor repair of their homes, they are forced to pay tax. They are required to report birth and death of a livestock to the authority while paying an arbitrary fee. Extra-judicial killing and summery executions, rape of women, arrest and torture, forced labor, forced relocation, confiscation of moveable and immoveable properties, religious sacrileges, etc., are regular occurrences in Arakan.

As a result, severe poverty, unemployment, lack of education and official discrimination are compelling the Rohingyas to lead an inhuman life, causing a negative affect to each Rohingya, especially its youths and workforces. The future of the community remains bleak and exodus into neighboring Bangladesh has become a recurrent phenomenon. The new arrivals unfortunately often face arrests and/or pushback from the Bangladesh security forces. And there is no international agency to look after the interest of these stateless Rohingyas. Because of their lack of legal identity, they are not allowed to work or hold work permit by any name. To survive, many work as illegal workers in different countries of the world where in many places they and their children are deprived of basic human rights.

However, in response to the efforts of the UNHCR to facilitate the survival of Rohingyas, the military rulers have agreed by middle of 2007 to issue Temporary Registration Certificate (TRC) for a limited number of Rohingyas, enabling them to inland travel from township to township or to apply for marriage permission. The UNHCR is present in northern Arakan state for the past 14 years, monitoring the welfare of more than 230,000 Rohingya former refugees who returned from next-door Bangladesh from 1992 onwards.

Nevertheless, after the resignation of the rest three Rohingya MPs under the pressure of the military regime, U Kyaw Min who proved to have the courage to stare at the eye of death, remained the only member of parliament among 4.5 million Rohingya Community to represent the political future of the Rohingyas in the National Parliament of Burma, in different strata of the state level of Burma and also to represent the Rohingya community in the UN and other World Bodies. He is a visionary leader and an illustrious son of the soil of Arakan. His ideal remains a luminary for the Rohingyas to build up a future even standing in the debris.He inspired hundreds of thousands of Rohingya youths to think as to how to emancipate the stateless Rohingya community from their decades-long sufferings.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyie is regarded by the people of Burma as well as Rohingyas as the icon of peace and liberty and at the sametime U Kyaw Min is regarded by the Rohingyas as the ray of hope as well as the crown of their respect which has been reflected in his landslide victory in the 1990 General Election and which has been recognized as a significant landmark for representation and which came after 26 years of military dictatorship. In fact, it was the first time when the people of Burma got an opportunity to vote for a government of their choice. It was one of the free and fair elections that had taken place in the South-East Asia region at that decade. He made unprecedented contributions for the cause of emancipation of the whole Rohingya community and as a great Rohingya scholar, he has shown the Rohingya community the road to emancipation through the restoration of communal harmony between Rohingyas and Rakhines under the Union of a democratic government of Burma.

U Kyaw Min tried his level best to inject the spirit of brotherhood among all communities of Arakan particularly the Rohingyas and Rakhines to work shoulder in shoulder for the build up of a prosperous future. He lives with dignity in the hearts of tens of thousands homeless Rohingyas. By imprisoning him on the charge of being an alien, the military rulers will not be able to wipe out his name from hearts of Rohingyas as well as other democratic forces of Burma. They have rather set with it another example of forcefully snatching away the rights of Rohingyas to citizenship and thus to compel them to born, live and die in this world without having the basic rights as stipulated by the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

.............................. .......

Ahmedur Rahman Farooq,
Chairman, The Council for Restoration of Democracy in Burma (CRDB) and a member of The Union of Rohingya Communities in Europe (URCE).

Email: rohingyascrdbinfo@gmail.com

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Get it off your chest
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A. Rahman Farooq2008-02-27 17:43:55
Ref: RHRC/B10/2008
Dated: Feb 10.2008

Change of Name:

With a view to further specify our political activities with our ethnic identity "Rohingya", the name of our existing organization,"The Council for Restoration of Democracy in Burma(CRDB)" has been changed into "Rohingya Human Rights Council(RHRC)" with unanimous decision. But our organizational structures as well as our objectives for the restoration of democracy in Burma, restoration of human rights of Rohingyas and restoration of Communal Harmony among all communities of Arakan particularly the Rohingyas and Rakhines, will remain unchanged. An online journal by name of "Rohingya Human Rights Review" will serve as the mouthpiece of our organization.

With thanks and best regards.

A. Rahman Farooq
Rohingya Human Rights Council (RHRC)
Address: 2975 Vang i Valdres, Norway
Contact: +4797413036
Email: rohingyas.rhrc@yahoo.com, rohingyas.rhrc@gmail.com

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