Never Again? Then help the Rohingya!
NEVER AGAIN: WAYS FOR THE JEWISH COMMUNITY TO HELP THE ROHINGYA, NOW
I. The Burma Task Force is coordinating a Congressional Advocacy Day for the Rohingya on February 28, in conjunction with JACOB (Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma). Americans of different religions and of no religious background will be going door to door in Congress, urging Senators and Representatives to approve the bills that are now before both houses (see following item), imposing sanctions on Burma for their dehumanization and slaughter of the Rohingya minority.
II. Writing letters is something virtually everyone can take on. Please begin by writing your state’s senators and representatives in Congress, urging that they support Senate Bill 2060 and House Bill 4223. Highlight the responsibility that we have as Americans and as Jews to intervene before any more Rohingya die or flee in terror for their lives.
III. Consider asking for local rabbis and other Jewish leaders to ask local Holocaust Memorial/Genocide Prevention Centers to host a speaker from the Rohingya community, co-sponsoring with synagogues of all denominations, various Jewish organizations, day schools, and human rights agencies — so that local constituents can learn, first-hand, about the horrors – and the hopes and help the effort. This may be in conjunction with Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Memorial Day, which is Thursday, April 12, 2018. To arrange for a speaker, you may contact Adem Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org
IV. Jewish and other humanitarian groups are helping Rohingya refugees as well as empowering Rohingya to advocate for their rights. Below is an evolving guide to a number of groups that you can support to further relief and advocacy.
SOME IMPORTANT ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING ROHINGYA ADVOCACY AND RELIEF
by Adem Carroll of Burma Task Force and Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub of JACOB*
Rohingya Rights Advocacy and Anti Genocide Work
To stop genocide and policies of persecution, Burma Task Force has worked for the last five years to focus on media and policymakers; staff meets with US Congress, the UN, Canadian Parliament (BTF has a strong branch in Toronto), human rights and humanitarian professionals, and activists as well as Rohingya leaders. The US and International systems are supposed to have “atrocity prevention” mechanisms but without political will, these do not work. However, grassroots pressure have an impact and the BTF website directs the community to weekly action alerts, and other tools for action. www.burmataskforce.org
Another excellent advocacy group working on this is Fortify Rights (based in Thailand) which has been in the forefront of advocacy work, recently working from the border with survivors of atrocities. www.fortifyrights.
The International Campaign for the Rohingya (DC organization) a small project focusing on the important work of holding investors accountable when they operate in Myanmar. http://bit.ly/
US Campaign for Burma: Though this organization is much smaller now, it continues its long-term mission working on behalf of all ethnic groups targeted by the Burmese military: https://
American Jewish World Service, in addition to their on-the-ground work discussed below, devotes substantial resources out of its DC offices to long-term policy solutions to the isolation, expulsion and dehumanization of the Rohingya. www.ajws.org
Rohingya Refugee Relief
Note: Some relief organizations work in nations with few Rohingya (like Indonesia) but the greatest challenges now are in Bangladesh and in Burma/Myanmar. There is little or no access to Rakhine State in Myanmar at present and UNHCR (UN High Commission on Refugees) has been struggling to regain some access (delayed again by the Myanmar government). In the past Doctors Without Borders has been a standout organization in Myanmar, though they have been very cautious since being thrown out for one year for being perceived as pro-Rohingya. To donate to UNHCR by phone call toll-free 1.855.808.6427
NOTE: In Bangladesh, the government has restricted charitable organization access to Rohingya refugees until now (and refused to register 90 percent of them as refugees before the latest crisis) but now is allowing limited access to permitted agencies and projects working in partnership, making this complicated and somewhat politicized.
American Jewish World Service: https://ajws.org/
BRAC (an NGO in Bangladesh, with a US branch) is a large charity active in Bangladesh and has also some local services, though until recently it was unable to publicize its help to Rohingya in Bangladesh. It will be a player in providing emergency assistance and other services. http://www.brac.net/
Moushumi Khan, a longtime colleague of Adem Carroll of the Burma Task Force, runs CZM , a relief agency already doing work on the ground for Rohingya. They are also a local implementing partner for her organization, the Foundation for Charitable Activities in Bangladesh (www.fcabd.org). FCAB is currently working with International Medical Corps https://
HIAS is focused on working with other U.S. resettlement and refugee protection organizations to engage in advocacy to increase the global resettlement of Rohingya refugees, including from Bangladesh. Currently, the United States is the only resettlement country that has resettled Rohingya refugees in any meaningful numbers. In spite of the reduction of the planned refugee arrivals for this fiscal year, the United States needs to continue to welcome Rohingya refugees, and other resettlement countries need to establish and implement Rohingya resettlement programs. HIAS’ advocacy will include documenting success stories of resettled Rohingya refugees in the United States. Furthermore, advocacy is needed to encourage the government of Bangladesh to allow the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees to have access to resettlement (historically, resettlement of Rohingya refugees has taken place from other countries of first asylum in the region, not from Bangladesh). For more information and ways to get involved, visit www.hias.org.” Here is a worthwhile recent piece from HIAS’s organizational blog:https://www.hias.org/
North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community (NABIC) is extremely active in Bangladesh and has services for Rohingya: nabic.org/ and http:
World Rohingya Organization (WRO) is a small project whose Rohingya director personally travels to the camps in Bangladesh to bring supplies and to help maintain schools. His next trip is in March. He has a “launchgood” crowdfunding page: https://www.launchgood.
WRO has gathered donations for 3 schools for Rohingya children in a camp in Teknaf, Bangladesh; and wired modest amounts of money to this school directly and these kids send back videos to thank us. See: https://www.gofundme.com/
The Women’s Peace Network of Arakan is an NGO run by a Rohingya leader (daughter of a former MP) which has received support from Soros/OSI. The Director comes to the USA regularly and has been recognized at the Obama White House. Please see: https://www.facebook.com/
Jeannie Marie Hallacy is a filmmaker who was funded by AJWS to do a film on inter-ethnic relations in Sittwe (which is also the title of her short film, which toured widely in 2017 and cold be used in your community events) She is currently on her way to Bangladesh to do another film focused on Rohingya women survivors of mass rape and trafficking. To offer financial support you may wish to contact her directly: email@example.com
In the USA, the Rohingya Culture Center is based in Chicago and provides ESL, afterschool classes and social support to 400 Rohingya refugee families. Please see: https://www.facebook.com/RCC4.
*JACOB (The Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma) is a group of 24 national Jewish organizations who have joined to let their constituencies know about the persecution and attempted genocide of the Rohingya of Burma, and inspire/enable them to further effective advocacy to end the horrific slaughter and displacement; and*provide emergency and longer-term assistance to the millions of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and elsewhere