Expelled from Home, Caught in Neighbors’ Purgatory

Expelled from Home, Caught in Neighbors’ Purgatory

Myanmar’s Muslim minority, Rohingya have been described by the UN as “the most friendless people in the world”.

This minority is the indigenous to Rakhine state of Myanmar/Burma. Their population is about two million. However about half of this number lives outside Myanmar, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Muslims settled in Rakhine/Arakan state five centuries ago. But according to the official stance of Myanmar, Rohingya cannot be citizens of Myanmar and they are “mainly illegal immigrants who migrated into Rakhine”. The authorities and media outlets in Myanmar have a problem with the term “Rohingya minority”. People like Aung San Suu Kyi, a Noble Peace Prize laureate, also call the Rohingya Muslims “Bengalis”. Massive discrimination and depravity as well as the continuous attacks of the state-supported Buddhist riots on Muslim villagers forced tens of thousands Rohingya to flee towards neighboring countries where they are not welcomed. Myanmar has been accused by the UN for carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, gang rape, torture and murder.

Myanmar denies citizenship of Rohingya and they face harsh problems in neighboring countries too; that’s why they have been termed the “most unwanted people” in the world. While Rohingya enjoy a better condition in some other countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and accepted by those countries. Diplomatically, Turkey and Malaysia have shown their interest to alleviate the pains of Rohingya.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 72, is popular as the symbol of democracy and human rights in the West. She is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, the Minister of the President’s Office, the Minister of Electric Power and Energy, and the Minister of Education and leader of the National League for Democracy party in her country. When Suu Kyi emerged as the de facto leader of Myanmar, she made the world optimistic and all were waiting for positive changes in the case of Rohingya. But actually she has done nothing to stop violence against this oppressed community and even she denies some indisputable facts. The symbol of respecting human rights in Myanmar has just admitted that there were “some problems” in Rakhine state; however she has rebuffed the objections of the international community about the ruthless operation of the Myanmar Army in this state. The Noble Peace Prize laureate has rejected UN inquiry into crimes against Rohingya and the statement of a UN official that “ethnic cleansing” was going on against Rohingya. This passive attitude of Mrs. Suu Kyi made dozens of Noble Peace Prize laureates to write an open letter. They accused her that she had watched the behavior of the Myanmar Army with the Muslim minority passively.

Keeping in mind the stance of Suu Kyi, there is no sign of good changes for the Rohingya Muslims in near future. Her close ally, Win Htein thinks Suu Kyi has stuck at a crossing. It seems her priorities have been changed after holding power in Myanmar; maintenance of power is more important than human rights for her. Maybe she is thinking of limiting the power of the Myanmar Army; until that time “presence of Burmese Muslim militias” and “intercommunity fights because of collaboration with the central government” are good excuses for Aung San Suu Kyi. To understand the condition of Mrs. Suu Kyi, having a look into the condition of the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani can be useful. Both of them face double pressure from two sides; their sympathetic circles and powerful opponents.


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