Deal Cautiously with Rohingya Issue
The plight of Rohingyas has received international attention, with the junta in Myanmar going on a ‘kill, rape, burn and loot’ campaign in the Rakhine region. A huge number of Rohingya refugees have streamed across into impoverished Bangladesh, a nation itself in perpetual misery. The fresh onslaught of the Myanmar military is said to be in retaliation against attacks by the Rohingya-Arakan Salvation Front prior to August 25, when the military began its operations.
Though Nobel Peace Prize winner Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is heading the government in Naypyitaw, she is in no position to restrain the human rights abuses and forcible eviction of people from their homes by her own army. She has been in power only for the last two years after decades of house arrest and all kinds of restrictions. Even now the military occupies 25% of the parliamentary seats and retains the veto power against the decisions by the executive head. It was only after her advent into power that a Rakhine State Commission was formed to address the issues with Rohingyas, a term anathema to the ethnic Burmese. She had even agreed to issue them IDs of residency, a step short of conferring citizenship. There are similar issues with other ethnic minorities in Kachin and Shan regions of Myanmar from where dislocated people have taken shelter in China.
No purpose will be served by demanding the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden revoke the honour conferred on the lady in 2009. She has to precariously balance her position between the merciless army of her country, international pressure and the prick of her own conscience. The neighbouring nations must allow Suu Kyi’s democratic experiment to succeed and hinge hopes on her steering the country away from international isolation.
Much of the brouhaha vis-a-vis atrocities against Rohingyas seems to be motivated by politics. The leaders who lost their face on the issue of arbitrary and unilateral provision of three talaqs have found a new emotive issue to remain in the limelight. One could question as to why there were no similar protests against Saudi Arabia’s brutal attack and bombardment of impoverished Yemen. Obviously, no Muslim leader or outfit has the guts and the gumption to be seen on the ‘wrong’ side of the faceless regime ruling the Saudi Kingdom. Similarly, there was hardly any murmur of protest against mass dislocation of people from Syria, a country now virtually bombed into 18th century.
It is not the time for demonstration of street power on an issue whose ramifications are little understood by the Muslim masses. It is time to organize relief and see to it that sorrow and anger does not transform into violence and militancy. No wars can occur in South Asia without disastrous spillover of violence across international frontiers and protracted ethnic strife, as we learnt from the Tamil imbroglio in tiny Sri Lanka. Silent and substantial work with the focus on peace and compromise should be the objective.