By Tin Maung Lwin and Min Htet Aung
Responsible officials from Interfaith Friendship and Unity Group (IFUG) led by U Nyi Pu, Rakhine State Chief Minister and U Khin Maung Tin, Deputy Minister for the State Counsellor’s Office visited Yathedaung, Buthidaung and Sittway on 7 and 8 September, meeting local residents to inquire about their requirements.
Here are voices of the dignitaries from interfaith friendship and unity group, in the interview.
Dr Thar Nyan, General Secretary, Christian representative in the Interfaith Friendship and Unity Group
I came here under the arrangement of the Ministry of the State Counsellor Office, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture and Rakhine State government. The main objective was that we held the IFUG meeting with regard to the event of 25 August, making decisions to help solve local people’s difficulties. So, we formed a 10-member group to go to Maungtaw, consisting of 2 Buddhists, 2 Muslims, 2 Hindus, 2 Christians and I myself as the general secretary and another one as chairman—10 altogether.
If and when something happens, there will be refugees and they need to be fed and accommodated. Following this, rehabilitation and resettlement are essential. In this region, the task of performing rescue is of great importance. And, there is a need to get rid of misunderstanding among each other. Maungtaw events were not based on religion and race. It is harming the national sovereignty.
In the world, today, there are similar cases, for example in southern Thailand and Indonesia. In our country, we still have time to prevent. So, our government, Tatmadaw and the people need to cooperate hand in hand with each other. We felt considerate for our national ethnic people. It is necessary for all the local populace to pay mutual respects so that there will be no difficulty for peaceful living and stability. Mutual understanding is also of great importance. I hereby would like to say that we came here to help our national brethren.
Dr Khin Maung Htoo, Buddhist representative in the Interfaith Friendship and Unity Group
We came here with a view to help people over the events in Maungtaw, as to how much and how we can help them. On arrival we learn that they try to get what they want, through terrorism, on the wrong pretext of religion. We told the local people to live on awareness, keeping 4 Cardinal Virtues in mind. All must not believe in rumours, to be united after careful consideration. We will come again for health, if we are assigned. We will give medical doctors and subsidies including food.
U Nyunt Maung Thein, a Muslim and Vice Chairman of the Interfaith Friendship and Unity Group
We came here to find how we can assist the displaced people, how we can refute the fake news spreading over the world, how we can help all the people here and how we can resettle them as soon as possible. We discussed with local people from different faiths in Yathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungtaw. We found in Maungtaw that displaced people are suffering a lot due to terrorist attacks. We don’t accept terrorism.
U Ragu Nay Myint, a Hindu and member of the Interfaith Friendship and Unity Group
International media have portrayed the issue in Rakhine State as a genocide and Bengalis as a minority in this state. In fact, about 98 per cent of the population in Maungtaw is Bengalis and just 2 per cent is ethnic Rakhine. Hindu is also one of the minorities in Maungtaw. They were killed by terrorists. Some were raped. Some were forced to covert to Islam. International media turned a blind eye to suffering of Hindus.
When we enquire about the terrorist attacks in Maungtaw, Muslim villagers also expressed their sympathy to ethnic Rakhine villagers. In the history, ethnic minorities never ever made problems, Muslim villagers do not reject this fact. Regardless, we do not accept terrorism.