Bangkok, Thailand: The Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) celebrated its 2nd foundation day at the 14 October Memorial Monument on Rajadamnoen Avenue, Bangkok, on August 20, according to a press release.

The Rohingyas and Thai groups, with the support of FORUM-ASIA, organised a commemorative seminar to mark the 2nd foundation day of BRAT and pointed out that the Rohingyas are an indigenous race, one of two major communities living in Arakan State in western Burma for centuries. 

The statement said that the seminar was to lend voice to the problems of Burmese Rohingyas in Thailand and assist them in resolving their problems. Assistant Professor Jaran Ditapichai (National Human Rights Commissioner), Mr. Mana Ngamnet (an expert on stateless persons), Mr Sarawut Sriwannayos (Islamic Council of Thailand), and Mr Somchai Yensri (People Media Foundation) were among the speakers at the seminar. 

The Burmese Rohingyas have been fighting and supporting the struggle for democracy in Burma since the struggle for independence with General Aung San and during the “8888” people’s movement, till now. They are fighting against the Burmese military junta along with the ethnic groups of Burma, the statement added. 

The statement also said that the representatives of the Rohingyas had contested the 1990 general elections and won four seats. 

The BRAT statement also declared that Burmese Rohingyas have entered Thailand illegally because of the political conflict in Burma as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, and migrant workers and are now facing many problems like legal status, education for children and their security in Thailand. 

According to Mr Mana Ngamnet Rohingyas are denied citizenship in Burma by the ruling Burmese military junta. So, Rohingyas have become stateless. For stateless persons the Thai government has a policy to conduct a survey for their housing requirement. Those living in Thailand since 18 January 1995 will have a chance to be surveyed and given legal status in Thailand for a certain period. Their identification cards will start with the numbers “00”, according to the statement.