Rohingya refugee urges halt to Burma military aid

Rohingya refugees flee Burma

Habiburahman, a Rohingyan refugee and founder of the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation, has called on the Australian government to suspend its military aid to Burma (Myanmar). Australia currently spends $450,000 a year on aid to the Burmese military.

Habiburahman was speaking at a public meeting on March 28, organised by the Refugee Action Collective. 

He called for a halt to Australian investment in Burma, with human rights conditions being imposed on any resumption. Woodside Petroleum has invested $400 million in offshore gas and oil exploration.

He also called for a visa ban on top Burmese military officers and their families, and for the Burmese generals to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Habiburahman reported that since August more than 43,000 Rohingha have been killed or have disappeared, 700,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh and 400 Rohingya villages have been destroyed in attacks by the security forces and government-organised gangs.

Today there are a million Rohingya refugees outside Burma, including those displaced in previous waves of violence. There are also 150,000 in concentration camps within Burma.

Habiburahman described the treatment of the Rohingya as "genocide". He said it is largely motivated by "religious intolerance". The Rohinghya are Muslim, whereas the dominant religion in Burma is Buddhism. Other non-Buddhist minorities have also been attacked.

Habiburahman said the Aung San Suu Kyi government is even worse than previous governments. The number of killings is greater, as is the number of refugees. Suu Kyi has expelled Muslim members of her own party.

Habiburahman said there are about 200 Rohingya refugees held in Australian detention centres and on Manus Island and Nauru. About 2000 live in the Australian community on bridging visas or other short term visas. Many do not receive social services or education. They find it difficult to get jobs because of language difficulties and their temporary status.

Habibirahman, who came to Australia by boat after nine years in Malaysia, when the Malaysian government tried to deport him to Thailand, said Australia has been refusing to take any Rohingya refugees from Indonesia or Malaysia.

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