The European Rohingya Council (ERC) expresses the concern on the arrests of five men for publishing a “2016 Rohingya Calendar”.
The calendar was initiated and published by a Rohingya writer, U Aung Khin under the permission of Myanmar Ministry of Information in line with the country’s law. On November 23, five men were fined $800 each by a court in Yangon’s Pazundaung Township.
On the following day, the five Rohingya men were re-arrested and detained in notorious Insein Prison under a separate charge brought for causing “Public fear and alarm” which can pronounce a sentence of up to two years imprisonment.
The decision of the court came after the meeting at Magwe Pariyatti Monastery held by the radical Buddhist monks group, Ma Ba Tha (acronym of ‘Race and Religion Protection Association’) which has submitted complaints to Panzundaung and Shwepyithar police stations, and pressurized the court to bring cases against the publication of the calendar.
The calender contains the official evidences of Rohingya existence from the period of 1950 to 1970. It includes quotations from a number of famous Myanmar freedom fighters and officials including General Aung San – the father of Myanmar, U Nu – the first Prime Minster, U Ba Swe – the second Prime Minister of Myanmar, General Aung Gyi – Deputy Minister of Defence and General Saw Myint – Minister of Border Affairs, indicating Rohingya were constitutionally recognized as a distinct ethnic group by the four successive post-independent governments of Myanmar.
In contrary to the previous democratic governments’ stance, the current government not only upholds the 1982 discriminatory Citizenship Law which stripped off Rohingya citizenship and denied the right to self-identification, and also prohibits official use of ‘Rohingya’.
The decision of the court is against democratic principles and values. It also contradicts to the freedom of press.
Therefore, we urge to the government of Myanmar to provide safety and security to the Rohingya writer U Aung Khin, who is under the threat of life and arrest.
We further urge to reverse the decision of the court for other related printing house and to dismiss the charge of the five men who are innocently of the charge accused. We also urge the international community to raise the voice for all means against the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar.
Khairul Amin (Chairman)
The European Rohingya Council (ERC)