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Things go awry in Myanmar

Publication Date : 16-04-2014


As Myanmar is set to herald its New Year amid its traditional Thingyan Water Festival on Thursday, with the call from its President Thein Sein to uphold the cultural traditions of the nation by wiping out all incitements rooted from racial and religious bias, the stark reality remains somewhat different.

Of late, much to the dismay of the international community, developments in the former pariah state have been far from satisfactory.

The recent mob Buddhist violence against foreign aid workers in the disturbed western state of Rakhine and their departure from the country as well as the quasi-civilian government’s diktat barring the minority Muslims from identifying themselves as Rohingyas in the just concluded population census in three decades, are mute reminders of things going amiss.

Bowing to pressures from the powerful majority Buddhist community, the government forced the Rohingyas to call themselves Bengalis in the census in order to allay fears that it could give some legitimacy to the much discriminated Muslims, considered aliens despite their existence in the country for generations.

The exit of aid workers, who have been addressing the humanitarian crisis arising from the displacement of over 140,000 Rohingyas following racial riots and killings, from the country have raised global concerns.

Last week, a UN human rights envoy said there was a severe shortage of food, water and medical care in the relief camps in Rakhine, where scores of Rohingyas are sheltered.

The sorry state of affairs in Myanmar can be gauged from the recent statement of opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Speaking in Berlin, while receiving an award, Suu Kyi said that her country, despite a number of reforms, “is not yet a democracy”.

It’s time for Myanmar to take real inclusive measures and create conducive atmosphere to address the humanitarian issue.


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