International Conference on Rohingya 2017 : Speech of Dato Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang, Vice President of International Union of Muslim Scholars

International Conference on Rohingya 2017
Speech of Dato' Seri Tuan Guru Haji Abdul Hadi Awang, Vice President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Qread by Shaikh Abdul Ghafar Aziz, Assistant Secretary General, International Union of Muslim Scholars.

International Conference on Rohingya 2017

Let us thank Allah SWT for the blessings bestowed upon us and bless the Prophet Muhammad SAW, His messenger to all men, sent to save mankind from the darkness of ignorance to the light that illuminates the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the distinguished guests, comprising the leadership of political parties, organizations and NGOs from within and outside Malaysia, government officials and all participants present here today. I am delighted to join the participants in this beautiful hall at this International Conference on Rohingya that begins today.

Our participation in this conference on Rohingya, is an affirmation to the fact that the issue of humanity and the persecution of ethnic minorities anywhere in the world, must receive proper aid and support regardless of political affiliation, religion, race, ethnicity, gender and the environment we live in.

Humanitarian issues prevail relentlessly, and become glaringly apparent in this borderless world and hence, require research and pro-active measures to ensure that repression and intimidation will no longer happen in front of our eyes.

What concerns us is that the patience of Muslims and the international community of various ethnic groups around the world may wear thin and lead to other problems that are more severe, if the
injustice and cruel annihilation that are taking place are not immediately stopped by the authorities.

Rohingya is a story of humanity. It exposes some of the issues behind the story; the issue of human rights, discrimination of the majority against minority groups, ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community, violence by the military, failure of regional and international organizations to act, and the barbaric nature of modern society in oppressing human beings.

The history and civilizations of Egypt, China, India, Rome and Persia are visible to the human eye as traces of ancient architecture still stand. They have become renowned tourist destinations and the pride of the world due to its architectural grandeur.

Compare that to the authority of the Prophet Sulaiman A.S with his ability to rule over all humans, animals and genie, and the dominion of Zulkarnain encompassing both the East and the West; there are no lasting evidence of their empires including archeological remnants that can be unearthed by researchers. Allah SWT deliberately concealed the evidence from the human eye, despite the depth of their knowledge and wisdom.

These ancient civilizations utilised coercion to enslave mankind, restricting freedom of thought, belief, livelihood and wealth. The oppression even went to the extent of abusing, torturing and the taking of human lives without an ounce of guilt.

But these are the civilizations that are hailed with great pomp by man in this day and age. They have forgotten the role of the Prophets and the Messengers who have scattered far and wide to guide mankind to a path of happiness in the afterlife.

Such a scenario is repeatedly occurring in every part of the world with people allowing themselves to succumb to the ideology and system of governance created by humans that continue to enslave lives.
Nevertheless, even though human faith has been removed from the physical body, His light will continue to prevail and be preserved by Allah.

History of Rohingya in Arakan

The tragedy that befell the Rohingya Muslim minority is similar to what has occurred to Muslims since time immemorial, and a similar lesson can be learnt. Attempts have been made by certain parties to conceal evidence of the existence of an Islamic Government that had once ruled this race a long time ago.

In fact, the cultural background, daily activities, delicacies, external relations, governance, language and even land ownership can be submitted as
evidence that ethnic Muslims have long inhabited Arakan, now known as Rakhine state and became part of Myanmar. The strongest evidence are documents and monuments going back more than a few hundred years ago to corroborate their claims as the original inhabitants of Rakhine state. The word Arakan, recognized as the original name of this state bears similarity to the word 'Arkan' in Arabic, which means the pillars.

According to reliable sources, the Arakan region was ruled by a Muslim administration over three and a half centuries from the 1430M to 1784M, coinciding with the existence of some Muslim governments in the vicinity, namely in China, India and Malaya.

In the past, its territorial sovereignity encompassed a land area of nearly 37 square kilometers facing the Bay of Bengal and mountain passes, whereby the Muslim population lived in almost all the areas inthe region as they do now, in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Sittwe, Kyauktaw and many others.

Victims of War

However, ethnic conflicts occurred especially between neighbouring Buddhists and Arakan Muslims in 1784M. Despite the material devastation, it did not change the conviction and faith in the hearts of Muslims. They remained diligent and steadfast in defending their faith and these traits were passed down through generations up to this day.

Since then, the hostile sentiments towards the Muslims led to further discrimination and increasing attacks. Fear caused them to flee and led them to the border near the region of Chittagong, Bengal (Bangladesh) which was under British authority. They sought refuge from attacks here and inhabited the area. These refugees identified themselves as "Rooinga", an indigenous people of Arakan, which was then spelled as Rohingya.

This situation was exacerbated by foreign colonists in the region, from Britain, Netherlands and Spain. During the Anglo-Burmese War between 1824 and 1826, the English brought in the working class, specifically farmers from various provinces nearby in order to strengthen its position.

It was also a chance for the native Muslims of Arakan Muslims who previously fled to Chittagong to return to their homeland. However, the influx of more and more immigrants from Bengal and India in particular, actually exacerbated the existing hostile environment.

The Rohingya Muslims became neglected and their plight worsened despite Burma being granted independence by Britain in 1948. Following the coup d' état by Burmese military leader General Ne Win in 1962, widespread massacre occurred and more than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims were driven out to Bangladesh.

Mass evictions were carried out again in 1978 by the
regime that ruled over more than half a million of ethnic Rohingya, resulting in more than 40,000 dying, especially among the elderly, women and children. This situation lasted until 1982, when the government officially declared Rohingya as non-citizens, making them prisoners in their own land as well as refugees in neighbouring countries.

The implications following this action, include:

1. Loss of the right to vote and participate in politics;
2. Loss of the right to health and education;
3. Loss of the right to own property and work;
4. Loss of the right to move freely within the country;
5. Loss of the right to self defense.

Stripping their citizenship was indeed improper as this ethnic group also played a role in building the country, with prominent Rohingya holding key positions in politics, such as the country's first independence Burmese Parliamentary Speaker and also Governor posts. In fact, many of them served in the police and military.

The world community through various international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and international NGOs should be in a position to restore the rights of the Rohingya community. We refuse to see a repeat of this tragedy and ethnic cleansing anywhere else in this world.

It is important to understand the background before demands can be made for an immediate justice, peace and shared prosperity.


The label Indo-Burman race given by the British colonial to those of Rakhine origin should be rectified and the Rakhine Myanmar government must now amend the citizenship act to restore the citizenship status of this ethnic minority, as recorded in the constitution before 1982.

Stripping citizenship based on sentiments of religion, race, language, color and so on is improper. Relevant history should be sought to prove that they are the original inhabitants of Arakan, have mutual respect and can live together harmoniously with other ethnic groups in Myanmar.


It was said that Arakan Rohingya Muslim population almost reached 4 million, but now they have become refugees and live in various countries around the world including Europe, Africa, the Arabian Peninsular and many more. Now it is estimated that there are only about 700,000 permanent residents scattered in several villages and refugee camps.

Their safety can no longer be guaranteed as the tragedy of the 2012 genocide was clearly an act of religious persecution. This is further exacerbated by the actions of the military regime that 'conspired' to make them lose their shelter. The situation is now vulnerable and puts them at risk of becoming easy targets of ethnic cleansing operations.

Thus the Government of Myanmar itself must give assurances on this matter. If not, the United Nations should consider a peacekeeping team in the region. Neighbouring countries, including Malaysia, have to open the door to refugees and sign the relevant


Rohingya children either in Myanmar or in refugee camps have an uncertain future. They have no education to speak of other than efforts initiated by NGOs from foreign countries. Thus, a concerted global drive to redevelop and empower this oppressed ethnic group must begin.


It is impossible and very difficult for them to rebuild their economy, after their belongings and wealth have been confiscated or destroyed. I would like to suggest an initiative to provide them with training skills and related supplies so that they can at least earn an income.


Poverty and their incarceration in refugee camps further compounds the fact that they are denied access to health services. Many children are not getting a balanced diet and are potentially at risk of stunted growth and reduced immunity to allergies, skin and other diseases.

Their current placement leaves them with no privacy, proper sanitary or sewage systems. In fact, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and others are on the rise and many have succumbed. Other than eating whatever little they have and sleeping on the ground, they are left helpless, facing the sky day and night. Therefore, the global health movement should collaborate to avoid a deterioration of the current situation.

Freedom of religion

It was reported that many houses of worship, particularly mosques and Muslim religious learning institutions have been invaded, demolished or destroyed, rendering them unusable.This act violates
every principle of fairness, even in war. This matter must be taken seriously by all parties.

Pertaining to the issues mentioned above, Islam has demonstrated its international principles related to war, refugees, asylum, civilians and protected people. In fact, it is similar to the terms adopted in the Geneva Charter.

Immediate Action

1. All forms of oppression, violence, let alone use of any weapons against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar must be stopped immediately.

2. Humanitarian aid agencies delivering assistance such as food, water, shelter, medicine, clothing and providing health screening services and other forms of humanitarian assistance must be allowed access by the Government of Myanmar and neighbouring countries.

3. At the same time, children should be given the opportunity to receive education in any circumstances whatsoever.

4. The Rohingya people should be accommodated when performing worship such as prayer and fasting during Ramadan; which will arrive very soon.

5. All these things must also be a priority for all aid agencies and any party that wants to continue with the humanitarian mission in the region concerned.

Role of Aid Agencies and International Affairs

6. Islam leads by example in protecting the rights of Muslims and non Muslims as well as refugees in foreign countries. Islam provides solutions in advancing peace, diplomatic action and diplomacy.

7. We must understand that the Rohingya issue is not
an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of ASEAN member countries. However, humanitarian issues that can overflow into neighbouring countries and give rise to internal tensions in the countries of
ASEAN itself is evidence of how humanitarian issues such as this must be addressed collectively and seriously by ASEAN member countries themselves.

8. The attention of the world is needed. Countries that signed the Charter of Human Rights, the Geneva Charter and OIC Islamic countries and all human rights activists must work together to warn those who violate human rights and deny the rights to citizenship to the Rohingya community.

9. The Government of Malaysia is also to cooperate with other Asean countries to curb greater powers from intervening in this conflict, which may cause greater harm.

Special Agenda for the Rohingya

10. As we continue to unravel the problems afflicting the Rohingya in Myanmar, special emphasis must be made by all parties to ensure the Rohingya community enjoy the same rights in:

• Citizenship
• Security
• Education
• Economy
• Health
• Freedom of religion

11. Overall, with an increasingly complex international climate, I would like to suggest a secretariat in the Muslim countries to coordinate health services and education development programmes for Muslim minorities around the world, and the first attempt must be instituted to aid Rohingya. The Secretariat can be chaired by Malaysia based in Kuala Lumpur, to be under the auspices of the Government of Malaysia at the time of its inception. Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) offers its full cooperation to this community initiative.

Stop Cruelty, Defend the Rights

Negotiations which lead to justice and harmony should be the priority. Rohingya are entitled to enjoy this and the Government of Myanmar should be open enough to receive them in their efforts to rebuild the country in the reality of today's world. Oppression, tyranny and a wanton attitude to mankind is a cruel and ancient crime that must be eradicated from every inch of the world and we believe that all races and ethnic groups in Myanmar also support this noble objective.


Once again I wish to thank the presence of invited guests and participants to the conference, especially to the Secretariat and Conference Committee and the philanthropists who helped finance this programme. The conference will also not be successful without
the full cooperation extended by the Government of Malaysia, particularly the Office of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, the Interior Ministry and security forces throughout the conference.

We hope our efforts will bear results and help alleviate the suffering faced by the Rohingya community.



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