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CFOB in Crisis with Rohingya Issue

Action Alert – Nov. 5, 2012

By Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director, Canadian Friends of Burma

After hesitation for months, I’ve now decided to inform our network that Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) working in support of democracy and human rights in Burma since 1990, has been going through a crisis, especially under enormous pressure to side with ‘Rohingya’ Muslim in ongoing conflict with local Buddhist Rakhine community in Burma. The pressure is up to a point that CFOB was forcefully suspended from a group of NGOs – Canadian NGOs Committee on Burma (CNC).

In particular, Ottawa-based Inter Pares, a key member NGO of CNC, consistently put pressure on CFOB to stand with ‘Rohingya’ Muslim, to the extent that they cut off their funding and even blocked the funding coming from other sources.

Apparently, this is the act to terminate our work for Burma. CFOB is an independent organization and we are not in no way subordinate to any organization.  CFOB stands for human rights for everyone, but we don’t want to be seen siding with any group in the conflict. Inter Pares does not seem to understand this point and put enormous pressure to amend our position. We see this as interference in the internal affairs of an independent organization’s policy-making process.

On one hand, we are aware that Inter Pares is using Canadian taxpayers’ money from CIDA to support Rohingya media and advocacy groups such as Kalandan Press and Arakan Project with 5% of a total CIDA funding each year. These organizations are indeed responsible for sending out false news and exaggerated information to the outside world. It appears that Inter Pares wants CFOB to be part of this wrongly guided campaign. That is something we can not accept and will not accept at any cost.

For this mounting pressure, Inter Pares also seems to have worked closely with Burma Campaign UK (BUCK) that has cozy relationships with many Rohingya Muslim elements in UK and Arab world.  And Inter Pares blames CFOB for not being able to work with them. Of course, we work with organizations that are pragmatic, but not with radical elements under the banner of so-called human rights.

In fact, CFOB helped secure Inter Pares almost $30 million for Burma border projects since the beginning of funding from the government aid agency, CIDA. CFOB was indeed the platform and the springboard for the funding from CIDA.

The latest successful effort was the continuation of the funding from 2010 to 2015 with $3 million each year. CFOB lunched a nation-wide campaign with the support of Burmese communities across Canada in beseeching Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make sure of this funding for Burma. However, Inter Pares does not seem to appreciate our effort and is continuously using unethical and ambitrary act to disrupt our work. 

Their action is a contradiction to what they call themselves as social justice and human rights organization in Canada and their intent is thus questionable. If continued, it would definitely tarnish the image of Canada in the eyes of thousands of Burmese-Canadians and 60 millions of Burmese people.

Therefore, I would request you to directly ask Inter Pares’ Board of Directors to review its management’s tactic in solving the difference with CFOB. Please see their Board of Directors and management team at
I will also take other necessary measures to save the existence of CFOB from all these destructive acts and keep the operation running as much as it can.

You can also see my position on the conflict in Arakan state of Burma


The Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) is federally incorporated, national non-governmental organization working for democracy and human rights in Burma. Contact: Suite 206, 145 Spruce St., Ottawa, K1R 6P1; Tel: 613.237.8056; Email: ; Web:



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