We live in a world of illusions. If you think a woman can be a champion of peace and reconciliation, you are wrong. If you think a democratically elected leader can form a government for all, you are again wrong. And if you still think that a Nobel Peace Prize winner can be a messenger of love and peace, you are grossly mistaken.
For the uninitiated, introducing Aung San Suu Kyi, the first woman, democratically-elected leader of Myanmar who also coincidentally won the Nobel Peace Prize has a blind sight of the atrocities that her army and Burmese have been committing against Rohingyas for years. But what is more surprising is the fact that while she didn’t condemn this, she has gone to the extent of defending the crime committed against humanity by her army and people.
Back in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi is facing tough economic challenges since coming to power. Sheer mismanagement of economic resources and economic sanctions during decades of military rule has shattered the economy. Transport, health and public infrastructure are in pathetic shape. With low investment, rising unemployment and rampant child labor, drug, human trafficking, Aung San Suu Kyi is losing her popularity faster than she thought. She is well aware of about these developments. Keeping all these in mind, she is making calculative move and taking decisions that are politically correct rather justice and humanitarian.
Who are these Rohingyas?
The Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan people currently residing in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. According to the local Rohingyas and some scholars, they are original to Rakhine State while other historians claim that the group represents a mixture of pre-colonial and colonial immigrants. The official position of the Myanmar government is that they are mainly illegal immigrants who migrated into Arakan following Burmese independence in 1948 or after the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. Myanmar denies giving citizenship to them. The Burmese government agrees to grant citizenship to a Rohingya who can prove that his ancestors settled in Myanmar before 1823, the beginning of British occupation. This is absolutely absurd and nonsense.
Mass genocide against Rohingyas
Myanmar’s army is involved in mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingyas and burned down villages since October 2016 in the name of ethnic cleansing. According to Reuters, over 65,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since October, 2016.
About 1.1 million Rohingyas live in inhuman conditions today. More shockingly, the Burmese government has cut off most humanitarian assistance to reach to the area. Thousands of malnourished children are in danger of starving and lack medical care.
The world must open eyes and condemn the atrocities. Rohingyas as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world is a reality which should be addressed. So far, The United Nations has termed violations against Rohingyas as “crimes against humanity”.
United Nation’s Fact-Finding Mission
Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nation and chairman of Myanmar’s Advisory Commission on Rohingya State recently visited the place and expressed concern about the alleged human rights violations. But apparently it seems that this can achieve a little.
United Nation’s (UN) has decided to establish an official inquiry and to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Myanmar to investigate alleged abuses by security forces. However, the government of Myanmar has been on a denial mode and publicly dissociates itself from the UN resolution.
Aung San Suu Kyi’ should realize when she was in house arrest and her supporters were suppressed brutally by her own army, it was the international community which supported her and freed her. One year ago, after a historic election, she brought hope to end to the Rohingya’s sufferings. That call now appears to have gone in vein. It is an utter disgrace and shame when she defends and argues that the government’s response to the attack is based on “the rule of law.”
There is bizarre silence by the international community on the issue. With a Donald Trump becoming President of US, the world community has already started feeling headless. Europe is busy in dealing with domestic economic challenges. China prefers to maintain relations based on strategic and economic interests where human rights and civilian issues matter the least. Bangladesh and Malaysia are the only two countries to have raised voice against the Burmese government. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described the recent retaliatory army action in Rakhine as “genocide.” Malaysia has also cancelled two friendly football matches with Myanmar.
India, a rising power, recently took a peculiar position. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought report from the state Government of Jammu and Kashmir on illegal settlement of Rohingyas and Burmese in the Jammu region. It seems that politics and security are more important than human lives. This is instead of condemning Burma and seeking solution to stop genocide and settle them humanly.
The solution starts with Myanmar
The Rohingya crisis is a political issue. The ultimate solution lies in granting citizenship and ensuring equal rights in their ancestral home. Myanmar should sit with Bangladesh and mutually agree to grant proper legal standards to these people.