In their video-taped addresses to the conference, renowned activist and scholar Angela Davis calls for the worldwide boycott of Burma while UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee calls on the Burmese government of Aung San Suu Kyi to meet its obligations under “international humanitarian law”.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1 February 2019
Contact: Maung Zarni +44 771 047 3322 ; Nay San Lwin +49 176 62139138
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NEW YORK: The Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC)– the leading global activist group led by and for the Rohingya people – will host a two-day international conference at Barnard College, New York City on February 8-9, 2019 calling for accountability and protection for national minorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar. This is a rare convergence of academics and activists hailing from and with expertise on Burma, with humanitarians and international criminal law practitioners.
On September 18, 2018, the United Nations International Independent Fact-Finding Mission released a 440-page report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva that found “overwhelming evidence” that Burma, now run jointly by disgraced human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military, is committing “gravest crimes in international law.” The most serious of these include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against national minorities like the Rohingya, Karen, Kachin, Shan, and others – some of whom have fled to the United States as refugees. Within the last decade, approximately one in four US -bound refugees have been ethnic and religious minorities from Burma.
“Buddhism is a religion of absolute compassion for human suffering, and it is unacceptable that Buddhists can be marred by such absolute and immovable hate,” remarks Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the conference hosts and University Professor in Humanities at Columbia University. Spivak added, “as engaged scholars and intellectuals of conscience, we cannot ignore this ongoing genocide. We urge the global community to raise their to end the atrocities.”
FRC coordinator Ms Razia Sultana, author of the book “Rape by Command” which documents mass rape against Rohingya women and girls by the Burmese military, known as Tatmadaw said, “we the Rohingya have been subjected to a textbook genocide which has gradually escalated since my childhood.” Ms. Sultana is a Rohingya whose parents fled Burma after a brutal military purge in the 1970’s. She further pointed that Burma has also targeted other ethnicities, adding that “minorities in Burma like the Buddhist Rakhine who have lived alongside my people for centuries, and Christian minorities like the Karen and Kachin, have not been spared persecution.”
Last December US House of Representatives, in a nearly unanimous vote, declared Burma’s atrocities against Rohingya people in 2017 “a genocide” and called for the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Burmese Reuters journalists who were framed and imprisoned by Aung San Suu Kyi government for reporting on Rohingya mass graves.
Since early January, there have been military clashes between the autonomy-seeking Arakan Army (of Rakhine Buddhists) and the government troops in Rakhine state. UN Special Rapporteur Professor Yanghee Lee told the conference organizers, “the order by the State Government to refuse access to humanitarian organisations with the exception of the ICRC and WFP into northern Rakhine is entirely unacceptable and a serious violation of Myanmar’s international humanitarian law obligation to allow humanitarian aid.”
Internationally renowned activist and scholar Angela Davis adds her voice of solidarity to Burma’s oppressed communities by saying, “I will boycott Burma until and unless it stops repression and atrocities against its own national minorities including Rohingyas, Kachins, Karens , and Rakhine.”
Among the 35-speakers at the conference are:
- UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee;
- Daniel Taylor, the plaintiff in Australia’s Crimes Against Humanity Case against Aung San Suu Kyi;
- Professor Radhika Coomaraswamy, Lead author, Global Study on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace & Security;
- Professor Gregory Stanton, Founding President, Genocide Watch;
- Tapan Kumar Bose, Renowned Indian journalist, activist and filmmaker;
- Dr. Jeff Crisp, former head of Policy Development and Evaluation at UNHCR;
- Ms May-Oo Mutraw, Advisor to the Karen National Union;
- Dr Azeem Ibrahim, the author of Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide
- Genocide whistle-blower & prominent Buddhist scholar-activist Dr Zarni
The two-day webcast LIVE event will be held at Barnard College, is open to the public