Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rohingya – conflict in Myanmar – needs to be addressed soon

There is one thing that unites all Burmese, pro Govt. and opposition. That is the belief that the Rohingya who number 800,000 and live in the nort west of the Country in Rakhine State closer to the Bangladeshi border, should not be given Citizenship. Much in the way Indian Tamils were not given citizenship at Independence these are discriminated stateless people, all born and brought up in Myanmar but of Muslim faith. There are other Muslim groups in many parts of the Country but this group claim some form of distinct identity which further alienates them from the majority.

It was therefore purely a political gamble only to score points at home when Aung San Su Kyi, the leader of the Opposition, and now free from house arrest having hosted President Obama yesterday in her lakeside home, said " the Bangladeshis must stop the people from crossing the border, and we must secure the border to prevent these people from illegally entering". The Bangladeshis retorted. These people have lived in Rakhine for centuries. They DID NOT come from Bangladesh, which has only been a nation since 1971. Wherever they came from DOES NOT MATTER today, it is what human rights the Burmese can grant them that matters.

Looking at the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka as a parallel we too have people misusing facts to score political points at home, a problem when you are talking for votes. You will sell your soul and your sense of integrity for votes, no matter what your personal or innermost beliefs may be! It is exactly this reason that influence is exerted from outside to seek justice for the oppressed no matter who they are. They have no internal agenda.

Accusations are always of one community starting the violence, which then begets revenge. However as a first step without hesitation, citizenship must be given to these people, and their ownership rights within the Country legalized. The majority community of either party will not agree to this, so it will have to be imposed from outside as a condition for assistance. It is just not permissible for such a large community anywhere in the world to remain stateless. Even though they claim some affinity to West Bengal and may be ethnic Bengalis, there home is within the Country, and they cannot be turfed out.

The other fear the majority community have is of the high birth rates in this community that threaten the balance. This community accounts for 25% of the population of the state and therefore should be a real threat, much less a perceived one. However people’s base instincts are fed by nationalist Buddhist Priests.

The clashes result in bloodshed and the army can be brutal in its crackdown against the Rohingya. This must stop. They must be assimilated, given full rights without discrimination and permitted to live in their enclaves free from harassment. The problem is that intellectuals agree with this, but people who are more prone to listen to extremists are not willing to budge. It is therefore incumbent upon the Govt. to give these rights, but not make it an electoral liability and solve the crisis.

We cannot permit classic old fashioned prejudice to continue in 2012. People must become educated to the need to accept difference especially when it is one’s own neighbors who have lived alongside for generations. The answer to the massive growth in their numbers, that threaten overtake the population balance, may have to be solved in a different way by getting the Rohingya to compromise on their religious principles and not be permitted to have more than one wife, in the interests of the delicate balance that gives rise to fear of the majority community of being overwhelmed by them in the future. The rich anyway fly the coop, anywhere

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

an "inconvenient truth" to the Western world's efforts to make the woman into a modern-day Gandhi.