22 Mar
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Statement on Elimination of….

Statement: CRDI Remarks on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21, 2019, Toronto: On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we pause to reaffirm our commitment to eliminating all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. It is a chance to reflect on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all humans.

There is much work to do.

We, at Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative (CRDI), turn our attention to the civil, military and political ‘leaders’ in Myanmar who spread their false and toxic vision of racial superiority. The extremist ideologies of those in power in Myanmar have become normalized and legitimized by the general population in the country. The government’s prerogative of building a country based on select peoples’ ties to the land, has resulted in devastating consequences, the gravest of which has been the genocide of our people.

The Rohingya genocide has been slow and gradual. Although Burmese regimes historically acknowledged our ethnic, linguistic and religious identity after Myanmar’s independence from Britain in 1948, we gradually became unrecognized as an ethnicity of Myanmar.

The government and its supporters pretend that we are not indigenous people of Myanmar, even though there is ample and compelling evidence that we are an original people of Myanmar, as many Rohingya, activists and humanitarian workers have painstakingly documented. They say we came from British-occupied Bengal to Rakhine state during the British colonial era.

In 1974, the government ratified the Emergency Immigration Act which removed our national registration certificates and they made us take foreign registration cards.

In 1977, we were forced into Bangladesh. In 1982, we were rendered stateless.

Lack of rights created significant restrictions on basic life necessities. We could no longer travel between villages, access health care, visit mosques, pursue education, employment, or get married. We were forced into manual labour and endured physical torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and extrajudicial killings.

In 1991, there was another exodus of our people into Bangladesh. In 2012, we suffered heightened violence. On August 25, 2017, close to 1 million Rohingya, crossed the border into Bangladesh creating the largest refugee camp in the world. An unknown number of Rohingya still live in Rakhine state in hiding and internal displacement camps.

How do we reject messages of hatred? How do we banish the concept of “us” and “them”?

We must decipher truth from lies and exhibit courageous leadership. No matter how long it takes, and how tired we are, we must always stand up for truth and the most vulnerable among us. We need countries to demonstrate courageous leadership in the face of racism and discrimination.

We hope you stand up with us and join our hands in our pledge to eliminate racial discrimination and to live up to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We hope you hear us that our message reverberates around the world.

CRDI
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