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Ko Ko Gyi
Ko Ko Gyi
Question: Can you share the experiences you gained during the recent trip to Rakhine state by 88 Generation Student Leaders?
Answer: Well when we visited the other parts of Myanmar, there is a sense of family reunion; usually in these occasions there is joy and hope. However in this trip to Rakhine , what we saw, what we experienced are not remotely similar to other trips. We felt heartbroken for the locals; moreover we noticed threats to our nation. The feelings are overwhelming for this trip.

Question: Can you elaborate more on these threats you just mentioned to our nation Mr. Ko Ko Gyi?
Answer: While we visited the town of Sittwe, even in the town in broad daylight, the armed patrols have to guard the railway to prevent any potential sabotages, such kind of situation is totally unacceptable. And again when we visited the townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, in these townships, the native Rakhines are of minority and we saw a huge number of Bengali villages along the road. I talked to a Rakhine man who couldn’t control his tears while describing about the situation there, and seeing this really touched my heart. He explained that they cannot stand the threat that they would be forced to flee from their native land. Therefore, despite all the hardships they are facing, they are striving to stand firm in their land. Therefore, from my opinion, this(Rakhine) issue is not a trivial matter, and must be take into serious consideration.

Question: Mr. Ko Ko Gyi, so during your trip, did you meet the natives who practices Islam such as the Kamans?
Answer: I visited to Muslim refugees as well. At the village of Thet Kal Pyin, we had a chance to talk to the locals there. Well, I do not regard this as a religious conflict. Of cos it has been a long-standing problem; this isn’t a problem that exists only recently. For decades, the illegal immigrants have been flowing into Myanmar, moreover the corruption of the Myanmar officials made these matters worse. Another matter to note is the rate these Bengalis give birth, the rate of giving birth is massive and overtime the local Rakhines feel threaten by the sky-rocketed birthrate of these Bengalis. With these birthrates, it’s not only the Rakhines who feel threaten; when I visited the Bengali villages the living conditions are saddening as well. I told our belief to them that there should be equal citizen rights, however on the other hand, together with citizen right, there are responsibilities of the citizens, and importance of living in harmony with other citizens. Another issue is that whether a person is our nation’s citizen or not, from humanitarian view point, we are going to help those who are suffering, that’s one issue. However, on the other hand, in terms of granting citizenship to them, we would have to examine this matter with great care since this is a matter of national security.

Question: Just now in your answer, you talked about the sky-rocketed birthrates of these Bengalis. However, Rohingya organizations from overseas have been claiming that there are restrictions on childbirth for the Rohingyas in Rakhine state, so how would you like to respond to these claims?
Answer: There are a lot issues to take into consideration concerning with Rohingyas. I ask these native Muslims what race do they belong to, and they answered that they are Bengalis. So, what’s obvious is that these people themselves regard them as Bengalis. On the other hand, when I visited the townships of Buthidaung & Maungdaw, from what I learnt 97% of the population is the Bengalis. I visited to the border gate between Myanmar and Bangladesh, there are people visiting across border. So in the town of Sittwe, the person that I talked to himself is a guest-citizen of Myanmar. Therefore, if the officials were to make proper census about the citizens, I expect to see lots of illegal immigrants. And to do so, we would need lots of efforts to educate the locals and their cooperation.

Question: Recently, when President U Thein Sein met UNHCR he said since these Bengalis are illegal immigrants from neighboring country, Myanmar will not accept them but to operate refugee camps, and till (if any) other countries who are willing to take them would do so. So what’s your view on this stance?
Answer: In every nation, the laws of citizenship and issues related to national security are set in accordance with the individual needs and unique nature of each country; these requirements are hardly the same between two different countries. So that is the same for our nation as well, we would have to issue laws in accordance with the requirements of our nation.

Question: The UNHCR replied on President U Thein Sein’s proposal that this is an internal affair of Myanmar and the current situation does not comply with UNHCR’s regulations and thus cannot accept the president’s proposal. How would you like to say on this matter, Mr. Ko Ko Gyi?
Answer: In concerning with Myanmar, these officials from international organizations tend to conclude their decision based on the limited information that they have knowledge of. And when these limited things that they know are not relevant to the real situations happening in our nation, it could seriously hurt the local’s emotions and opinions on them. For instance, in the refugee camps that I visited, I saw signs which show that they do not welcome UN & INGOs. So, the officials from these organizations would need to take serious consideration on how do the locals view them.
TS-Thant Zin

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