The Ro­hingya Cri­sis & Si­lence of Aung San Suu Kyi

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Prof. Dr. Muham­mad Saleem Mazhar & Dr. Na­heed S. Go­raya

Myan­mar (for­merly Burma), a re­pub­lic of South-East Asia, is pre­dom­i­nately Bud­dhist but about 5 per cent of its 60 mil­lion peo­ple are Mus­lims. The world’s largest per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity is Ro­hingya Mus­lims, are un­for­tu­nate in­hab­i­tants of this Re­pub­lic. This eth­nic group is set­tled in the Rakhine State, also known as Arakan, and re­quires to present proof of the cit­i­zen­ship by birth of the state of Myan­mar, hence fac­ing the wrath of the stat. All oth­ers, in­clud­ing Ro­hingyas are sub­ject to pro­vi­sions on cit­i­zen­ship by de­scent or as­so­ciate/ nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen­ship. To­day Ro­hingya Mus­lims of Myan­mar have gained world at­ten­tion es­pe­cially through media be­cause of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions within the coun­try. The Ro­hingya Mus­lims pop­u­la­tion is 80, 000, out of which 80% pop­u­la­tion is liv­ing in Rakhine, the Western state of Myan­mar. There are around 135 eth­nic groups who are liv­ing there since decades. Un­der the 969 Move­ment and the As­so­ci­a­tion for Pro­tec­tion of Race and Re­li­gion (known by its Burmese acro­nym, Ma­BaTha) the ac­tions are be­ing taken against Mus­lims. Ro­hingya Mus­lim com­mu­nity claim to be in­dige­nous to Burma, whereas the Myan­mar es­tab­lish­ment does not agree, it be­lieves they are im­mi­grants from Bangladesh, who have set­tled il­le­gally in­side Burma, from the Bri­tish Raj & af­ter­wards through the course of the wars in the re­gion. Like the rest of the Myan­mar, Rakhine State is an as­sorted re­gion. The largest groups in the state are Rakhine Bud­dhists who make up about 60% of 3.2 mil­lion to­tal pop­u­la­tion. Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Ro­hingya are about 30% and the re­main­ing10 per cent con­sist of China (who are Bud­dhist, Chris­tian or an­i­mist) and a num­ber of other small mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing the Ka­man (also Mus­lims), Mro, Khami, Dainet and Mara­m­agyi. All Ro­hingya Mus­lims do not be­long to Burma, rather few are from Bangladesh who left their coun­try be­cause of poverty in search of bet­ter liv­ing stan­dards and bet­ter eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties. In 1982, new con­sti­tu­tion of Burma was formed which dele­git­imized Ro­hingyas. Un­der this con­sti­tu­tion, 3 types of cit­i­zen­ship 1. Those who are cit­i­zens of Myan­mar and have been liv­ing there even be­fore 300 years and had an­ces­tors there and could prove that also.

2. As­so­ciate cit­i­zens

3. Nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens Hence, the Ro­hingya Mus­lims are not con­sid­ered and ac­cepted at all as a sep­a­rate racial group and cit­i­zens of the coun­try. They were de­void of busi­ness, jobs, and rights to vote and even could not seek jus­tice from courts. They were even de­nied ed­u­ca­tion and other state re­lated priv­i­leges in­clud­ing iden­tity cards. It is just a real face of To­tal­i­tar­ian regime which is even en­cir­cling their per­sonal lives. This regime in other words di­rect them, what would be their faith and when would they have to be mar­ried and how they will do that? Whether they would study point too, a de­ten­tion was im­posed, that a Mus­lim girl less than 25 years of age can­not get mar­ried while a male less than 30 years can­not get mar­ried too. In the Bud­dhist per­spec­tive, it seems that they fear that de­mo­graphic bal­ance of Rakhine state is shift­ing be­cause of three main rea­sons; 1. A high birth rate in Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties 2. Illegal mi­gra­tion across the Bangladesh bor­der 3. Many young Rakhine have be­come over­sees mi­grant la­bor­ers. Apart from that, Bud­dhist fear an eco­nomic threat by the Mus­lims, since the ser­vices, and trades­per­sons) has been largely driven by Mus­lims Near Arakhine , there was a province Rakebe, where Bud­dhist are in ma­jor­ity. They started con­cen­tra­tion there. Now 6, 00, 000 Ro­hingya are in Rakebe and Bud­dhists fear that if Mus­lims may ac­cede in num­ber, then what will hap­pen? On the de­mands of Bud­dhists, re­cently, state of Myan­mar has passed a law which states that if any Ro­hingya (Non-Cit­i­zens) have one child, then they can­not give birth to the next child un­til 3 years, 3 months and

3 days. The pur­pose of this law is only to lower down the birthrate of Mus­lims. Now the cur­rent un­rest has made al­most 13, 000 peo­ple home­less, ac­cord­ing to UN. Thou­sands of Ro­hingya peo­ple life in the neigh­bor­ing states hence trav­eled through boats to es­cape the atroc­i­ties of Bud­dhists and oth­ers hence caus­ing a se­vere hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis. They have been drift­ing through the sea from one coun­try to another with­out the ac­cep­tance. Af­ter Rwanda, this has been con­sid­ered as the big­gest geno­cide on earth. All those Mus­lims who have es­caped from Myan­mar are stranded in Bay of Ben­gal and are and smug­glers in­clud­ing threat of be­ing re­cruited by Daesh. World Hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions are rais­ing their voice but gov­ern­ments of the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries es­pe­cially Myan­mar but no ac­tion has yet been taken. While gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar is of the view that there is misun­der­stand­ing as all the boat peo­ple who are be­ing high­lighted and are refugees. They claim that only 200-400 among them are Ro­hingya and the rest of them are Bangladeshis. It is al­ready a smug­gler’s par­adise and this cri­sis has not de­vel­oped be­cause of us rather it is due to smug­glers.

The Burmese Mus­lims have asked for help from many coun­tries in­clud­ing In­done­sia in search of refuge since last 10 years. But the ques­tion is what the global gov­ern­ments are do­ing in this con­text. What should be their line of ac­tion? And what is the root cause of this cri­sis? Nei­ther any coun­try wants to pro­vide them shel­ter them nor want to as­sist them. The real ques­tion here arises on the deep si­lence of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Op­po­si­tion leader, the No­bel Peace Prize Lau­re­ate, over this atroc­ity. In this re­gard, Suu has stated in a press con­fer­ence, “It is not the mat­ter whether vi­o­lence is com­mit­ted by Bhud­dist or by Mus­lims or by Chris­tians. I ob­ject to it en­tirely. Ro­hingya are not cit­i­zens of coun­try with re­gard to whether or not, the Ro­hingya are not cit­i­zens of coun­try that de­pends very much on whether or not they meet the re­quire­ments of the cit­i­zen­ship laws as they now ex­ist. There are those who say that Burmese Cit­i­zen­ship laws which are based on the 1982 law, are not fair. Now this is a dif­fer­ent ques­tion and this the Burmese gov­ern­ment should have the courage to face the is­sue of cit­i­zen­ship fairly. With re­gard to the Mus­lims of Burma, I met some Mus­lim Lead­ers re­cently just be­fore I came to Ja­pan, we talked about all these com­mu­nal prob­lems and it is very sad that be­cause none of them have ever known any other coun­try ex­cept Burma and they did not feel that they be­longed any ar­eas in our coun­try ei­ther. We must learn to ac­com­mo­date those with dif­fer­ent views from ours”. Since 2008 Con­sti­tu­tion, the po­lit­i­cal struc­ture has been de­cen­tral­ized which will raise a new com­pe­ti­tion among po­lit­i­cal pow­ers. There­fore, the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties are seen as an elec­toral threat to the Rakhine par­ties and a non-Rakhine con­stituency that could weaken Rakhine con­trol of the state’s af­fairs. It is vi­tal to ad­dress the ur­gent life sav­ing needs of pop­u­la­tions that are vul­ner­a­ble, seg­re­gated and per­se­cuted. In the com­ing Novem­ber 2015, there are go­ing to be elec­tions in Burma. Aung Suu ‘s party NLD (Na­tional League for Democ­racy) is plan­ning to take full part in the up­com­ing elec­tions, But still in Burmese pol­i­tics , the im­por­tant and Key role is of army. That is why 25 % of the par­lia­ment have been pe­cu­liar to army. Suu wants that amend­ments might be made in Burma’s con­sti­tu­tion be­fore elec­tions so that more author­i­ties could be given to politi­cians. For this pur­pose, she is ne­go­ti­at­ing with Burma’s for­mer pres­i­dent and for­mer mil­i­tary com­man­der Than Shwe. The an­a­lysts say that Suu is not sup­port­ing Ro­hingya at this time be­cause on one hand her ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment might get af­fected and on the other hand, if she sup­ports Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity be­fore elec­tions, then she might lose the ma­jor­ity votes. The ques­tion is can they main­tain their iden­tity? Their is­sue is not only to get cit­i­zen­ship. The laws have been made so stern that their vil­lages are be­ing de­mol­ished by the Bud­dhist creed. But whether the is­sue is eth­nic or re­li­gious, the world has to in­ter­vene to stop this peace. Why the feel­ings of the No­bel Peace Lau­re­ate are not be­ing aroused?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.