May 26, 2015
I would like to send a message of solidarity and support for the Rohingya people of Myanmar. Rohingyas are indigenous people of Burma, living in their ancestral homes. All they ask is to restore their citizenship that was taken away by the military government. It is morally wrong to treat them as non-citizens on their own lands.
The plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar has worsened since 2012. Right now they feel they have 2 equally risky options- to stay and die in Myanmar or leave by boat. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Approximately 53,000 Rohingyas including women and children left Myanmar and Bangladesh by boats bound for Thailand and Malaysia in 2014.
The international community needs to support the delivery of basic humanitarian aid to the Rohingyas. Right now, that humanitarian aid is not reaching them. The Rohingya are the only ethnic group in Burma whose struggle is peaceful, without any arms, and it’s time the international community recognized and supported their nonviolence struggle for their basic human rights.
We want the European Union, ASEAN, and the International Community to recognize the suffering of the Rohingya people, and the fact that they're experiencing crimes against humanity at the hands of their own government. We want the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people to end. This is an important basis for any real peace talks and engagement with the Myanmar government.
I am joining with other leaders in making this call, including my dear friend and colleague Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We as the International Community have a responsibility to stand for the rights of the Rohingya people and to speak out to save their lives. We hope that action will be taken so that they can find their place in their country, in their society and that Burma will move forward to find real peace for all its people.
Thank you very much. Maired Maguire. Thank you.