Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s report released the other month on the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya warned of a danger of radicalization of this group in the Western Rakhine province of Myanmar. The beleaguered Rohingya, of whom the majority are Muslim and a small minority Hindu, have been living as outcasts within Myanmar for decades. Many observers assumed the election of Aung San Suu Kyi would bring some respite for the Rohingya. After Myanmar’s government had theoretically accepted the proposals by the Annan panel, a political solution to the long-standing problem was apparently just a matter of time.
However, militant bands of Rohingya allegedly attacked checkpoints and police officers in a coordinated attack a couple of weeks ago, on August 25. This is unfortunate. Militancy is never effective as resistance to oppression. Among other things, it just gives the oppressor a pretext for more subjugation. Now the Rohingya are feeling the full force of retribution in what many human rights agencies have labelled ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya community has lived in Mynmar in dire conditions and this humanitarian crisis has gone largely unnoticed by the outside world. Ironically, the Rohingya are stateless people living in a country whose leader has received the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting for her own people’s freedom.
The Rohingya are denied essential services. Their movement is severely restricted. They are not citizens of Myanmar as the predominantly Buddhist population of Myanmar considers them migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. These are just some of the legal restrictions and hardships they face. Food is sparse in these Myanmar camps. Healthcare is non-existent. Added to this suffering is the violence that the Rohingya suffer. Their long-standing ID cards were revoked by the previous government, and they have been forced into camps. The pro-democracy government of Aung San Suu Kyi has allegedly done little more to protect their basic human rights than the dictatorship it replaced. Her role in the plight of Rohingya has been widely criticized. Her initial silence, and now her reluctance to take a definite stance on the issue, has invited calls from the international community to have her Nobel Peace Prize revoked.
At the very least, her role has been questionable in this tragic saga. For example, Muslims in her country were even barred from running in the country’s 2015 elections. The refrain we now hear from her is that it is Muslims themselves who are killing the Rohingya, whereas documented evidence shows that the armed forces have sought hefty revenge for the militancy of a few armed bands. The victims are innocent Rohingyas. While talking to BBC Today host Mishal Hussein, a respected senior journalist, Suu Kyi said, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.” As someone who fought for her country’s freedom, her lack of moral leadership in this situation is alarming and warrants revocation of her peace prize.
Here’s what Dr. Zahid Shahab Ahmed, an academic based in Australia who has done tremendous work towards eradicating radicalism in Islamic countries, said on the matter: “It is so surprising that the international community hasn’t moved beyond mere condemnations to real pressure on Myanmar, for instance through economic sanctions and measures on regime change.” The international community needs to step up its pressure on the current Myanmar regime.
Source : TorontoSun