A ‘Treasured Solidarity’: Teachers’ Union of Ireland flies Rohingya Flag

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By Haikal Mansor

In an act of bravery and solidarity the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) took a decision to fly the Rohingya at its head office in Dublin on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

It is a substantial stand of unity with Rohingya and an acknowledgement of a persecuted minority group who are the victims of brutal human rights abuses and face genocide in their homeland of Rakhine in Myanmar. At their annual conference this year the TUI’s Annual Congress passed a motion calling on “the Irish government to immediately condemn the actions of the Myanmar regime and to seek supports from the European Union for the intervention to stop the genocide.”

It is the second time that the flag has been raised in solidarity with the Rohingya in Ireland. On August 25, the President of Carlow College, St Patrick’s, Fr Conn O Maoldhomhnaigh, raised the flag at the college on International Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. The raising of the flag is an emotional event for the resettled members of Rohingya community in Ireland.  They have witnessed their culture and identity being systematically suppressed, stripped of their citizenship, families and friends murdered, raped and displaced. Many Rohingya refugees remain in a very precarious position in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh. Communication from Ireland with extended family and friends in the camps is erratic and fraught with emotional trauma.

At the TUI headquarters was Mohammed Rashid, 56, a resettled Rohingya refugee based in Dublin who fled Myanmar along with over 250,000 Rohingya during “Operation Clean Nation” under the hands of Military Junta in 1992. Mr. Rashid who was born in 1962 when Myanmar has fallen into General Ne Win’s Military Coup and the beginning of the today’s genocidal campaign, said “Today is a beautiful day for me. My dream came true. I saw my flag being raised and it is emotional but at the same time I am very happy. I thank the Irish people for their support and particularly TUI for standing with Rohingya when we face genocide in Myanmar.”

Jabeda Khatun from Carlow who is among the resettled Rohingya community stated, “It is a day beyond my wildest dream, and a day to be remembered for generations of Rohingya to come. It is a day of displaying compassion over hate, and solidarity over isolation and silence. It is also a day my country of birth, Myanmar, should take lessons on how to uphold human rights, from my new home -Ireland.” A new generation of Rohingya growing up in Ireland have found dignity, respect for human rights, education and hope to prosper in their new home.

Monsur Alam, son of Mr. Rashid, was 12 without a formal education when his family was resettled in Dublin in 2009. Monsur is currently a student of Health Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. There is very limited opportunities for education for the Rohingya in Myanmar with a ban in place on Rohingya attending University. Monsur is very proud to be in Ireland and witnessed the flying of the Rohingya flag “which has never been allowed to fly in its homeland since military rule took over.  It now flies in Ireland, displaced like its people, miles away from its home”

Martin Marjoram, the vice president of TUI expressed support towards Rohingya, “We at TUI are proud and humbled to fly the flag for seven days in solidarity [with Rohingya]. It is a terrible tragedy. We really do stretch out our hands of friendship in solidarity with those who are suffering in these very troubled times.” Marjoram went on to say “It is a treasured solidarity in the time when the world remains silent, and the people continue to suffer from the lack of political will to solve the decades-old slow genocide against Rohingya in Myanmar.

“Rohingya community worldwide, especially in Ireland, is truly grateful of TUI’s gesture of solidarity and we continue to treasure the solidarity and form bonds to stand up for those without a voice,” said Haikal Mansor, the General Secretary of European Rohingya Council (ERC).

Also present were Mohammed Rafique, the chairperson of Rohingya Action Ireland, Micheal Clinton, Irish Ambassador to the European Rohingya Council, and Aidan Kenny and staff from Teachers’ Union of Ireland.

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