The United Nations said that nearly 4000 people have been driven out of their homes in Myanmar (also known as Burma) in April as the country’s north is gripped with violence.
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.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar (also known as Burma) to Bangladesh since August 25. With about 300,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh, tens of thousands in hiding in northern parts of Rakhine State and about 100,000 detained in Internal Displacement Camps, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described this mass exodus as “the world fastest-developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”
Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.
Many Rohingya came to Myanmar from what is now Bangladesh during the British colonial period (1820s to 1940s) to expand rice cultivation in Rakhine State.
About 1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State, making up some 2% of the country’s population and about 30% of the state’s population.
“The whole process was a fake!”, said Khin Maung Swe, a 68-year-old leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), a breakaway from the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. “We just won 16 seats [out of the 163 the NDF contested] because of the so-called advance votes.”
Khin Maung Swe expressed outrage at the process of counting votes in Burma’s elections held on November 7 for the first time in 20 years. Opponents of the military junta said it rigged many “advance votes” — votes cast before the official date of the election — through threats and bribes.