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An Open Letter to the People and Government of Myanmar

Bangladesh Development Initiative

4280 Breckenridge Court, Presto, PA 15142, USA
5160 SE 54th Place, Bellevue, WA 98006, USA
EIN: 25-1587450
DUNS: 941787207
www.bdiusa.org

PRESS RELEASE FROM BDI

 

An Open Letter to the People and Government of Myanmar
Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI)
www.bdiusa.org

Contact: Dr. Munir Quddus
muquddus@pvamu.edu            

We write this letter on a sorrowful note to our neighbors in the East.  The people of Bangladesh and Myanmar (formerly Burma) have lived as neighbors in peace for centuries, and there is much in our history, culture and heritage that we share. 

Despite the country's recent efforts to transition to democracy, Myanmar today is still dominated by its military frustrating the aspirations of its citizens for progress, democracy, peace and the rule of law.  In spite of the nominal return of democracy lately, the military dictatorship responsible for suppressing its citizens for decades has initiated and accelerated a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, whose ancestors lived in the country for centuries, and enjoyed the rights of citizenship in the past.

The people of Bangladesh, like many citizens of the world, developed a great respect and admiration for your leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. And yet today she stands accused in the court of world opinion not only for being a silent spectator to the genocide of the Rohingya minority, but for pronouncements that serve to aid the military in its brutal ethnic cleansing campaign.  We agree with Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu who wrote an open letter to her, saying pointedly, “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”

First, we strongly condemn the organized and indiscriminate violence against the Rohingya people by the government of Myanmar.  A simmering campaign underway for decades has now  erupted into a full-scale war of aggression unleashed on a poor and vulnerable people, leading to a massive migration of refugees to neighboring Bangladesh, where they have been provided shelter and care.

Second, we urge the people of Myanmar to listen to the better angels of your nature, and pay heed to the enormous reservoir of patience, tolerance and compassion that had defined the faith and culture of the people. It is high time for you to understand that your enemies are not your Rohingya neighbors, rather your true enemy is the military junta that has stifled your economy, curtailed your liberties and freedom, and poisoned your mind with fear and hate. They have turned neighbors against neighbors, and a peaceful people into violent criminals. Addressing the people of Myanmar, the illustrious Dalai Lama has recently said, "They should remember, Buddha, in such circumstances, Buddha (would have) definitely helped those poor Muslims. So, still I feel that (it's) so very sad ... so sad." This is your legacy and your tradition.

Third, we support the call made by the 12 Nobel Laureates and 22 eminent world citizens in their letter to the UN Security Council, "...to persuade the Myanmar government to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission which the Myanmar government established in 2016...comprised of Myanmar citizens, chaired by Kofi Annan, [the Commission] recommended providing citizenship to the Rohingyas, to allow them freedom of movement, rights and equality before the law, to ensure communal representation, lack of which affects Muslims disproportionately, to facilitate UN assistance in ensuring safety and security of returning people."

Fourth, we call upon the world community to condemn in the strongest possible terms this genocide that has unfolded in front of our eyes.  If we don't speak up, each one of us stand guilty of failing in our duty to protest injustice and oppression. 

Fifth, we call upon the leaders of the world to identify those who have been specifically responsible for this violence and to charge them with crimes against humanity in the International Court of Justice. 

Sixth, we applaud the government of Prime Minister Hasina for accepting nearly half a million Rohingya refugees. The influx has been sudden, massive and continuous.  In spite of its strained resources the government of Bangladesh has chosen the morally correct path, and has fulfilled its international responsibility to provide help to the distressed and displaced people who have sought refuge within its borders.  However, more can and should be done.  Unless the desperate Rohingyas who have arrived in Bangladesh are formally recognized as refugees (which would bring them under the partial jurisdiction of the UNHCR), they may be denied their rights and access to international relief assistance, which they urgently need and deserve.

Finally, we call upon the people and governments across the world to share the burden and help Bangladesh take care of the Rohingya refugees, and create strong economic, diplomatic and moral pressure on the Government and people of Myanmar to move towards a peaceful resolution of this crisis so that the refugees are able to return to their homes on their own free will, and without fear of persecution.

 

Signed by the following BDI members:

  1. Munir Quddus, munirquddus@gmail.com
  2. Ahrar Ahmad, Ahrar.Ahmad7@gmail.com
  3. Rahim Quazi, rmquazi@gmail.com
  4. Faizul Islam, mislam@aol.com
  5. Ashraf Ali, e-sas@msn.com
  6. W. Saud Chowdhury, wazi94611@yahoo.com
  7. Sukomal Modak, sukomal_modak@yahoo.com
  8. Akhlaque Haque, ahaqueusa@gmail.com