Prominent 8888 Generation Student Leaders Spoke on Bengali Rohingya and the Current Riots in Burma

Ko Ko Gyi and Min Ko Naing

Written by Won Thar Nu | Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ko Ko Gyi: Unless inevitable, we tried to avoid some issues patiently. Now it is time that we announce our view on Rohingya clearly. Rohingya is not one of the ethnic groups of Myanmar at all. We see that the riot happening currently in Buthedaung and Maungdaw of Arakan State is because of the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh called “Rohingya” and mischievous provocation of some international communities. Therefore, such interfering efforts by some powerful nations on this issue (Rohingya issue), without fully understanding the ethnic groups and other situations of Burma, will be viewed as offending the sovereignty of our nation. Genetically, culturally and linguistically Rohingya is not absolutely related to any ethnicity in Myanmar. In terms of citizenship, I would state separately. As we share the borders with other countries, we have some Chinese and Indian descents. They have been living in our country for generations and citizenship has been granted to them. We do not discriminate based on any race for granting the citizenship even if he is a Bengali. They should be protected in the same way as citizens of Myanmar.But, if we were forcefully pressured to accept Rohigya as one of the ethnic groups (of Burma), we won’t tolerate that. Even in America, to get the citizenship, people are tested on how well they know English language, how much they know about the culture of the country, and how long they have been living in the country, through the interviews. In our country, to get the citizenship, it is needed to know at least an ethnic language well and the person must have lived here for generations and know the cultures of the people to some extent. If we are forced to relax our citizenship rules and process and to deal with them unmindfully, we won’t tolerate it at all. For having good international relationship, we have repeatedly deferred to a lot of requests throughout the successive governments. We considered the case from the humanitarian point of view and accepted (Bengali) as refugees. Since no country wants to take them in, we feel sympathy for those people on the ground of humanity and refugee. Taking advantage of our kindness and deference, if the powerful countries forced us to take responsibility for this issue, we will never accept it. Concerning with the sovereignty, if we are forced to yield by any country, we, the army and democratic force will deal the issue together as a national issue.

Ko Mya Aye: I got out of prison. Even before I got out of prison, Rohingya issue has become a hot issue. It has become not only a hot issue in international political community, but also a crow-pleasing issue that can generate fund. Most of the Rohingya belong to Islam faith. Well, almost all of them. In order to become one of the ethnic groups, I think they tried to bond with Myanmar Muslims and have been pushing this issue to become a religious issue. That’s what Ko Ko Gyi implied by “provocation from abroad”. This has been happening for decades.

Ko Ko Gyi:
Therefore, Rohingya issue is not a Muslim (religious) issue. We need to be clear on that. I see that the fact that Rohingya people working with Myanmar Muslims is very suspicious.

Ko Mya Aye

Ko Mya Aye: We have repeatedly expressed 8888 Generation Students view since the incident occurred. Yesterday, we have contacted the authorities and shared what we have heard with them. To be honest, we have told them to have all the tight security measures in place. Now we heard of this news (terrorist act against the ethnic Rakhine people). It is not totally, totally, acceptable. I strongly, strongly denounce the fact that houses belonging to the ethnic Rakhine people were burnt down. First of all, I request that the government take responsibility of the security of the ethnic Rakhine people whose houses have been burnt down. Please find out who commit such anarchic acts that create more hatred among people and that would push the country into turmoil and punish those culprits. Especially, Maungdaw shares the border with the neighboring country (Bangladesh). Because of that the ethnic Rakhine are the minority there. In a civilized society, the majority does not bully the minority. It only occurs in an uncivilized society. Therefore, it has nothing to do with race or religion. On behalf of 8888 Generation Students, I demand to charge and punish those ruthless perpetrators effectively and strongly no matter which race they belong to and no matter which God they worship.

Min Ko Naing:
It is the most important to prevent the incitement that would cause riots and bloodshed among citizens. Therefore, I don’t want anyone to name the current events as riots between Muslims and Buddhists. Especially, it is very important for the media to control the current situation. On internet and Facebook, we find comments based on emotion and cheering by the people who have no profile picture. We all must control things wisely. Because at one place, Buddhists would probably be a majority but at another place, there are many Buddhists who lives among Muslims. Therefore, the more powerful people should not harm the less powerful people anyhow. Not even saying things like threatening. It is time to protect each other. It is time to protect the minority by the majority. If they not only protect each other and if they not only threaten each other, if they even take lives and destroy the public property, do not save any face. We must protect all altogether. The authorities would also have to take necessary measures. We have already started our efforts to protect at nearby places. I would like to urge the people to protect each other purposely in a collective and united way.

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