It’s been over a year since I have posted to this blog, but that doesn’t mean that both BBF and JMD have been idle or gone to ground, as you can see from the twitter feeds. This past year has also seen the completion of our highly successful coffee farmer peer education/training project in central Aceh. As part of IOM’s SEGA project we were in charge of the Direct Support to Farmers (DSF) component and assisted 1,000 (count’ em) Arabica farmers in improving their production, harvesting, and drying methods which resulted in higher yields and more income to the farmers. They also won several cupping (tasting) contests. I’m very proud of all the coordinators and farmer trainers. And I’m sorry I haven’t been reporting on this project all year. But please visit the website for lots more information on this initiative.
What has roused me back into publication is, as you can see, the situation in Myanmar and surrounding countries with respect to Rohingya refugees. I’ll try to post links to as many sites, videos, reports, involved agencies and events as possible. Apart from one unfortunately unreliable portal, there is no centralized location for information on what is happening in Myanmar and the Rakhine state. I am specifically interested in how grass roots organizations and small or local NGOs can provide assistance NOW—in the form of humanitarian aid.
Some of my last blog entries dealt with the Rohingya who landed in northern Aceh and who JMD assisted, with very little help from outside agencies. So here we go again, only worse.
Here’s a recent letter from a very good organization called the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK). http://www.bro-uk.org. I'll be posting as many updates and comments as I possibly can in the next days and weeks.
OPEN LETTER TO MUSLIM COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE
We the undersigned Rohingya organization express our gratitude to the international community in general, and the Muslim Countries in particular for expressing solidarity and continued support towards the oppressed and persecuted Rohingya people of Arakan (Burma) since the outbreak of brutal violence against them in early June 2012.
The Rohingya are living in state of jeopardy, suffering crimes against humanity--murder, rape, property destruction, and other grave human right violations while dying of starvation and disease. A great humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Arakan.
Given the extreme situation, in order to save the Rohingya people and other victims of violence, we urge the international community and the Muslim Countries to carry out the following activities:
The first is the urgent need for humanitarian assistance in Burma and in Bangladesh. Both governments are placing conditions on the delivery of aid which are not reasonable and are costing lives. We call upon Muslim countries to ensure that displaced Rohingya people can return to their original villages safely and are provided protection as needed.
The second is a request for a full independent United Nations investigation into the events that have taken place since June this year. We call upon all Muslim countries to ensure that the establishment of such an investigation is included in the text of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly resolution on Burma, and in the text of the next United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Burma.
The third is to change the illegal laws which underpin our repression and help encourage, justify and promote misunderstanding and hostility against us from ordinary people in Burma. Pressure must be placed on the government of Burma to repeal the 1982 citizenship law.
The fourth area where support is needed is building long-term communal understanding and tolerance within Burma. We Rohingya reject violence as a way of solving political problems. We simply want to live in peace in Burma, our homeland. We do not seek our own state, or the imposition of our religion or culture on anyone. Burma is a country of many ethnicities and many religions.
We must all learn to live side by side, in tolerance and in peace. We appeal for international advice and support in building a process in Burma whereby we can build communal understanding and tolerance, and respect for each other.
Signatories to this open letter are:
1. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
2. Burmese Rohingya Association Japan (BRAJ)
3. Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (BRCA)
4. Rohingya Community in Norway (RCN)
5. Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT)
6. Rohingya League for Democracy (Burma) (RLDB)
For more information, please contact:
Tun Khin + 44 (0) 788 871 4866
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)