The Rohingya Crisis & Silence of Aung San Suu Kyi
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?