Holy Cao! Want some good refugee news?

Good news about refugees is rare, I know. The election of  Joseph Cao in Louisiana is exactly that. The Republican lawyer, who came to America from Vietnam at age 8 as a refugee, defeated corrupt Democrat congressman William Jefferson last week. An article at Rightpundits reported:

Anh “Joseph” Cao, 41, was born in Saigon in 1967. He fled Vietnam in 1975 with his mother and two siblings when he was eight years old, and came to America as a refugee. His father, a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, was captured and imprisoned by North Vietnamese Communist forces.

Despite a disadvantaged childhood in a refugee community, Cao excelled in academics and went on to study at Baylor University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics. He then received a master’s degree in philosophy at Fordham University and considered studying to become a priest before entering law school at Loyola University, where he received a J.D. in 2000.

Since receiving his law degree, he has taught law at Loyola and practiced immigration law in the private sector. He has also served as a board member of Boat People SOS (BPSOS), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Vietnamese American communities.

Why have Vietnamese been such successful refugees? For one, many were from the educated classes. That’s who got persecuted the most when the communists took over in Vietnam. Also, they had enough money to get to America, money to pay bribes and hire boats. They were not the wretched of the earth, though they were put into wretched circumstances such as re-education camps.

They were grateful to come to America not because we had a good welfare system but because we were a free country where they could believe what they wanted, and a country of opportunity where they could prosper from hard work.

Maybe the refugee agencies or the State Department should hire some Vietnamese-Americans to give lessons to the new refugees.

Rohingya again: sorting things out, sort of

I don’t even know what to title this post.  I just wanted to get a few bits of information saved as we piece together this Burmese Muslim group’s history and present demands.

In summary, the US is resettling very large numbers of Burmese Karen Christians.  The mainstream media has made us aware of the plight of minorities in the country now known as Myanmar (formerly Burma).   However, at least according to the Rohingya (Burmese Muslims) minority, the United Nations and the US have it in for them and are not resettling them in significant numbers.   So, they have an on-going public relations campaign demanding fairness in the resettlement program of the UN.

Although the English is spotty at best, you can get an idea from this post yesterday at The Sail what the grievance is.

UNHCR particularly against its mandate, mission and violates its right to protect the same refugees in the same manner. It leads ultimately the intentional violates the human rights of the refugees. However, Rohingya is the most oppressed group in Burma and they can’t enjoy like others and they are not recognized like others.

In the other hand, US president George W. Bush had seek to provide assistant by changing its restrictions relevant to material supported groups. But it has yet to reflect for unfortunate Rohingya refugees. It is against towards American’s compassion, tolerance and humanity as the largest resettlement country. It means that all of restrictions are targeting to vulnerable Rohingya refugees.

The reference to “material supported groups” refers to a restriction we have in place to not allow refugees who have materially supported terrorism to enter the US.  The Secretary of State can waive the “material support” restriction and Sec. of State Rice did that to allow the Burmese Karen into the US.   The Karen “terrorists” were fighting the Burmese Junta, the government we don’t like anyway, so they weren’t really terrorists, or so the logic goes.

According to a commenter at this post the other day, Burmese Muslims are getting into the US already having entered Karen refugee camps, but the name “Rohingya” is not being used.   Here is the comment we received on December 9th:

Hi thanks for posting my comment. The Muslim refugees that we have resettled have “Karen” as their ethnicity. We all thought this was interesting because they don’t speak Karen. I actually talked to International Rescue committee (the overseas processing entity – OPE), the agency subcontracted with processing the refugee cases in Thailand, about this situation. I inquired what the Muslims refugees’ ethnicity was and their only response was “problematic”; I could get no response beyond that.

My original statement is that these folks were living inside the Karen territory and that their ethnicity might actually be assigned by the processing agencies, with either the Dept. of Homeland Security’s blessing or blind eye. I think DHS knows who these folks are, and is allowing them to be resettled as Karen, because of the special Karen P-2 group designation. Our ethnic Burmese caseworker says they are different than the Rohinga. Our ethnic Karen caseworker says they are not really Karen. It’s really hard for me to tell, other than they look darker and they speak only Burmese, no Karen.

It is very probable that the Karen political leaders are not happy about this misidentification, but the Karen in the US seem to be more preoccupied with the usual perils of US resettlement. No one has ever said anything against each other that I have heard.

I wondered about that, not using the name Rohingya, and just happened to come across a blog called Rohingya Info Corner which contains a lengthy discussion of who the Rohingya are and explains a longstanding dispute about how Muslims got to Burma in the first place, in what century did they get there, and how deeply rooted they are in Arakan.    The name Rohingya was not used throughout history to describe this group of Muslims.

Again, as I mentioned at the outset, I am confused by all this myself and just want to save pieces of the puzzle here for another day when they may all come together.

From Rohingya Info Corner:

So we can imagine here how deep and extensive the interrelationship of Muslims or Rohihgya with Arakan’ s socio-political life was. Only when and where there is a considerable numbers of populations, they can try to gain the reign of a land. As a scholar, Dr. Aye Chan knows well that history is wide, and in some where it is very much complicated. It is sometimes very difficult to uncover the nature of some deeply rooted facts. Sometimes later discovery proves old ideas wrong. Some historical points remain controversial until present time. There are many issues where historians do not get consensus yet. However the more we research the more we fmd. That is why we can not assume that Rohingya’ s history will ever remain undiscovered. We can not say it should be what like a section of people wants it to be. Many historians local, as well as foreign have been continuously bringing new evidences and proofs in support of Rohingyas’ deeply rooted existence in Arakan.

Foreign historians and UN senior officials take active and leading part in it. As the saying goes, “the drum of truth is beaten by air”, so the issue of Rohingyas’ ethnicity and present suffering are propagated by world media. Perhaps Dr. Aye Chan knows it better than we do. I hope Dr. Aye Chan will adjust himself to reason and will act fair-mindedly keeping prejudices towards on.

My advice to both Rohingyas and Rakhine, the major races in Arakan, is to adopt the ideal of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln said, ” As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this to the extent of difference is no democracy”.

Inadvertently I think, the author hit the nail on the head with his comment above in bold.   A certain population gaining control of a country is what all this is about.  Only in America do we believe deeply in the melting pot myth. 

And, now adding more wandering thoughts to an already wandering post, check out Gates of Vienna the other day on Democratic Tyranny in light of the Rohingya defenders definition of democracy above.    After reading GOV, I think I won’t be using the word “democracy” casually ever again!

For more (much more!) on Rohingya, see our Rohingya Reports category here.