A Grassroots Initiative to Adopt 25 Aug as Rohingya Remembrance Day


Maung Zarni – TRANSCEND Media Service

Sharing a Few Updates

12 Apr 2018 – I was in Ireland – Carlow and Dublin for the last 2 days, and I am on the train to Belfast.

The Irish supporters of Rohingya’s needs for protected homeland in collaboration with the Rohingya community in the country had packed meetings with the community, with Irish educators, religious leaders, activists and parliamentarians on the Foreign Affairs Committee, media interviews and two public talks.

I was joined by fellow rights activists:  Denis Haliday, former UN official and winner of the International Gandhi Peace award, India’s highest honour, who resigned his Assistant Secretary General post, after 30+ years of career, in protest on the US-UK manipulation of UN and its crippling sanctions;  Jude Lal Fernand, a well-know Sri Lankan dissident and professor of theology at the Trinity College, Dublin; Ms Seraphine Habimana who, as a Tutsi girl, survived Rwandan genocide in 1994 and is now doing PhD at the Dublin City University; and Bashna, Sinhalese dissident journalist in exile in Germany and PhD student at Trinity College.

The public talk at Trinity College, Dublin was Facebooked Live, and can be viewed here at my blog.

There is overwhelming support for declaring 25 Aug Rohingya Remembrance Day among Irish supporters of Rohingyas’ right to life for the idea/initiative for getting Irish cities, professional societies, and so on.  25 Aug is significant because it was the date the ARSA – a small band of Rohingya resisters – supposedly launched “coordinated attacks on 30 different Myanmar security outposts”.   No one in their right mind believes or repeats this Myanmar official tale, which deliberately misportrays a small band of extremely poorly armed, bare-footed and largely illiterate young Rohingya males, all living under layers of heavy surveillance, as ‘terrorists’ capable of launching a Mossad-styled operation!

In my own considered opinion, the tale of ARSA ‘attacks’ is an invented or manufactured pretext by Myanmar military high command, which was planning to derail Kofi Annan’s report, from the Day One of Annan’s involvement.  The military leaders viewed Kofi Annan as a double-edged sword because of his identification with the interventionist principle – R2P.

This tale of ARSA attacks on 30 outposts has never been verified independently by any credible researcher, journalist or gov. outfits.   ARSA most definitely has gone along with the tale in order to make itself look big and capable in the eyes of the Rohingya population, hopeless, futureless, angry and broken.

To my  profound dismay and disgust, many governments, UN officials and even mass media outlets have brainlessly repeated this narrative by Myanmar – meant to distort and misframe the fundamentally genocidal mission as “a veritical conflict” (insurgency against a legitimate if repressive State).

To her credit, UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee has openly expressed serious doubts about this official tale by Myanmar.

Disgustingly, the narrative also resonates with fundamentally racist, anti-Muslim policies and discourses of international think tanks, governments and multilateral organizations such as EU and UN.

We all know this tired Orientalist rhetoric of Muslims as “violent”:  if Muslims take up arms, it is ‘terrorism”.  If other faith-based communities fight back their oppressor it is “freedom struggle” or legitimate resistance and revolt.

Therefore, it is imperative that we recognise 25 Aug as “Rohingya Remembrance Day” to memorialise the thousands of Rohingya victims of Myanmar genocide, confronting head-on the lies of the Burmese leaders, the military and the public.

There are several major public events being scheduled.

On 2 and 3 May, there will be a conference on Myanmar genocide in Cologne, Germany organized by a Turkish organisation.

If you are interested or you know individuals and organizations that might be interested in attending please RSVP here 


A Buddhist humanist from Burma, Maung Zarni is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, former Visiting Lecturer with Harvard Medical School, specializing in racism and violence in Burma and Sri Lanka, and Non-resident Scholar in Genocide Studies with Documentation Center – Cambodia.  His analyses have appeared in leading newspapers including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Times. Among his academic publications on Rohingya genocide are The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingyas (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal), An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide, (Middle East Institute, American University), and Myanmar’s State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims (Brown World Affairs Journal, forthcoming). He holds a PhD (U Wisconsin at Madison) and a MA (U California), and has held various teaching, research and visiting fellowships at the universities in Asia, Europe and USA including Oxford, LSE, UCL Institute of Education) , National-Louis, Malaya, and Brunei. He is the recipient of the “Cultivation of Harmony” award from the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2015).

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 Apr 2018.

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