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The following part 2 of the interview with Dr. Waqar Uddin at the Global Peace and Unity conference in London on November 23, 2013. Dr Waqar talks about the efforts of his organization Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) in highlighting the human rights abuses in Myanmar and the message he wants to convey through this year’s Global Peace and Unity event. Please click here to view the first installment.
Toonari Post (TP): Please tell us about the aftermath of the conflict and how this has impacted on Rohingya Muslims, IDPs and Refugees?
Dr Waqar Uddin (DWU): The past conflict has brought pain and sorrow. The pain is enormous for these people, their families, children, women and elderly. The psychological impact of conflict is huge. Since last year thousands of Rohingyas got onto boats to flee Burma, going across the Indian ocean to cross into Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. In these countries, they have been placed in refugee camps with not enough food and medical care. This adjustment to a new reality has been painful for these people. It is indescribable what they are going through. Among the most painful consequences of this forced migration is accepting the reality of the loved ones they have lost, and left behind. Even now you will find boats floating the Indian ocean, people desperately trying to get to Indonesia, Malaysia, Srilanka and India. This migration of the Rohingya on boats is one of the biggest movements of recent times.
TP: What message will you be bringing from ARU to thousands of people who will be watching you live at the GPU?
DWU: My message to the community here in this large event is to acknowledge the situation of the Rohingya and to come together to encourage the international community to step up their efforts to help the Rohingya Muslims. I would also like to request the guest speakers in this event to get involved with their governments, with their ministries and their NGOs to step up their efforts until Rohingyas get their rights in their kind of state.
The message is: Please Help Us! Only some parts of story is known, but the width and the depth of the problem in Rohingya state is enormous, so we want to ask the community here to convey this message of help to international actors, to governments and to other ministries.
TP: It looks like your organization is at the forefront of raising awareness of Rohingya Muslims, so please tell us what you have achieved so far, have you been able to make a difference?
DWU: Thanks to God, our organization has been able to make so much difference on political and humanitarian grounds. We have stepped up international co-operation among NGOs, governments and the latest achievement is the United Nations General Assembly Resolution where ARU has been instrumental in working with OIC and the European Union, the Canadian government. Those resolutions came out couple of days ago regarding Rohingya citizenship, human rights and ethnic rights and this is the latest land mark achievement of ARU.
Before that we have worked with US State Department personally and Non-EU Member States to raise the awareness of conflict in Myanmar. ARU has also been active in human rights research for the United Nations General Assembly where OIC has a covering mission working with them. We have covered a high level of international activities including media that has been involved in various departments and Obama’s visit to Myanmar. We have watched and worked with the US State Department, staff and government to make Obama’s trip successful and for him to mention Rohingiyas in his speech in Rangoon has created an awareness of the Muslim people of the coastal Rakhine state of western Myanmar.
TP: We always hear about crisis in the Middle East, the East Coast of Africa and there has been a recent catastrophe in the Philippines. People often feel confused who to help, what can the ordinary person do to help the Rohingya situation?
DWU: People throughout the world can collectively do relief efforts to help Rohingya Muslims, especially those who are IDPs and refugees. There is a dire need for humanitarian aid, medicine, clothes, food, blankets, and clean water in order to prevent further health problems and this can be done through aid organizations worldwide. One thing which is really important for us is that the international community should not see this a separate issue. This is a global issue, there is a community that is dying, that is being wiped out, so the message to everyone is to get the message out and help these people.
TP: Regarding the GPU; please tell us how do you define peace and unity?
DWU: Peace and unity will be the combined effort; one cannot be achieved without another. It is the peace that will bring the unity. Peace and unity means working together, coming together, to deal with the issues collectively and contributing to the cause, such as the one in Syria, Myanmar, Congo and other countries of the world. To help the victims and the cause.
TP: How can humanity achieve peace and unity?
DWU: For humanity to achieve peace and unity, it will be through building bridges, gaining understanding and coming together.
Image credit: Nadia Shabir