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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 4065

Dr ALY (Cowan) (17:07): I also rise to thank the member for Fowler for moving this motion today, but also to acknowledge the speakers on both sides who have spoken before me on this motion. Last week, my husband and I watched the Dateline special that exposed what is happening among the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. Being in this place, you do have a sense of it—being on some of the committees in which we received briefings about what is going on there—but I have to say that the images we saw on the television that night were really unexpected and, actually, quite harrowing. They showed the extent and the magnitude of the situation—the killings, the rapes and the arson. It is a situation that can only be described as systemic genocide.

The member for Wright gave such a heartfelt speech just a few minutes ago, and said that most Australians wouldn't know about what's going on in Myanmar. I would have to agree with that. I think the Rohingya are at risk of being the forgotten people in our region, the people who we don't talk about, the people who are unseen, the people who are being persecuted and the people who are suffering from a genocide against them, but the people who the world has turned a blind eye to. Human rights organisations and the media are denied access to accurately report on the situation and what is going on there. There is denial of the atrocities by the Myanmar leadership, and this is particularly disheartening considering the history of Myanmar and the fight for human rights and democracy by the leadership there.

On ending this, I should also make a point on how social media has been used by the state of Myanmar to distribute propaganda against the Rohingya in the Rakhine state. This is something that has been brought up by several media outlets. It stands as a stark warning to all of us that we need to look beyond propaganda and see the humanity in each other—it doesn't matter where you come from, what religion you are or what ethnicity you are.

I hope that today's motion, and the number of members who have spoken on this motion, will go some way to giving some kind of reassurance to people in Rakhine state that we are listening. We are here, we are listening, we see you and we will continue to speak on your behalf to make sure that the military and government of Myanmar are held accountable for what the people are going through.

Debate adjourned.