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January 2023

Episode: KPN 25-01-2023

Kaladan Radio January 25, 2023 471 4

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Initiative By Rohingya Diaspora In The International Arena -ARNA -Part I

A lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis lies in the safe, sustainable and dignified repatriation of the 1.2 million Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh to Myanmar. Dignified repatriation of Rohingyas is possible through appropriate measures and the creation of an enabling environment in Myanmar’s political and social environment, but progress in this regard is not promising.

The leading representatives of the Rohingya community, who have been persecuted and tortured since Myanmar’s independence, have belatedly realized that they need a unified representation both inside Myanmar and abroad to actively tackle this problem. From 2017 till date, there has been an absence of active, regular presence and effective role of any group or organization representing the Rohingya community in the international arena.

A larger coalition called Arakan Rohingya National Alliance (ARNA) has been formed with some of these leading organizations and senior Rohingya politicians working on the interests of the Rohingyas to secure and ensure the oppressed Rohingya community’s right to live with dignity and honour. Due to the lack of coordination among the organizations dealing with the interest of Rohingyas, these organizations failed to perform an effective role in highlighting Rohingya interests in the international arena. To secure the rights of Rohingyas in a new federal democratic union of Myanmar strong cooperation between organizations representing the Rohingyas is essential.

According to the founding member of ARNA and co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition Ne San Luin, the most important task for the Rohingya leadership in the coming days is to increase cooperation and coordination between organizations. It is hoped that the ARNA will unite Rohingya leaders living at home and abroad to achieve the right of self-determination for the Rohingyas within the Federal Union of Myanmar. ARNA leadership stated that the Rohingya’s are not separatists, are willing to be part of the future Federal Democratic Union of Myanmar and willing to cooperate with all parties within Myanmar.

ARNA brought together Rohingya organizations, politicians and activists on a common platform for the first time since the organized genocide and brutal military crackdown in 2017. According to ARNA, the Rohingyas are interested in living peacefully with other ethnic groups in Myanmar and want to work together with the National Unity Government (NUG) and the United League of Arakan (ULA). ARNA stated that the Rohingyas are committed to maintaining peaceful coexistence on the principle of unity in diversity. The Rohingya have also expressed their support and solidarity with other oppressed ethnic and religious minorities in the country. Alliance leaders approved the outline of the alliance on November 20, 2022. ARNA is still in its early stages and will soon include youth and women representing the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

After the military coup the NUG was formed. They published a policy paper titled ‘Policy Position on the Rohingya in Rakhine State’ recognizing their identity as ‘Rohingya’. This recognition gives an idea of ​​the changing position of Myanmar’s pro-democracy parties. Earlier, the Myanmar government and military had been claiming that there was no such thing as ‘Rohingya’. Almost all the demands of the Rohingya’s are reflected in the commitments mentioned in the policy paper of the NUG. In addition to this, the commander in chief of the Arakan Army (AA), the military wing of Arakan’s ruling political party ULA said that they recognize the Rohingyas as “Muslim residents of Rakhine” and wants to ensure the human and civil rights of the Rohingyas. This acceptance is a positive step to solve the Rohingya problem and an indication of their changing attitude towards the Rohingyas.

Acceptance of the Rohingyas in the political circles of Myanmar and in the local politics of Arakan will accelerate the resolution of the crisis. ARNA can advocate for this initiative in the international arena. The participation of Rohingyas in this political initiative is an important decision. ARNA leaders can continue to communicate with the NUG, AA and take initiatives to mend the divide and bring back the long-standing coexistence and tolerance of the two communities. On September 19, the ULA announced in a statement that the world community must come to an understanding with them in any matter related to Arakan. The repatriation of Rohingya needs to be discussed with AA and then ULA will develop a roadmap for Rohingya repatriation based on mutual consent. It is also an important event in the ongoing process.

Brig Gen (Retd) Hasan Md Shamsuddin, ndc, afwc, psc, MPhil, Researcher on Myanmar, Rohingya and ASEAN affairs. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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