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Another wave of Rohingya persecution

Publication Date : 30-10-2012


Set against the backdrop of June and August riots between majority Rakhine Buddhist and minority ethnic Muslim Rohingyas that had caused exodus of the latter out in to the sea, there has been a fresh spate of violence on the Rohingyas triggering their displacement out of their own country.

Going by the United Nation's statistics, 22,587 people have been displaced with 67 lives lost as Muslim survivors flee bullets and burning homes to escape on fishing boats floating on the sea. According to one estimate, at least 80 boats packed with escapees were witnessed off the Myanmar's west coast. Constant trickles of new arrivals from Kyaupkyu's Muslim quarters have been highlighted in Human Rights Watch's analysis of the satellite imageries.

They have nowhere to go to, no food or medicine can reach them, they are camped and decamped as UN agencies try to reach succour to them with little avail. Even the OIC's effort to open an office to extend a hand to the hapless fell through resistance by the Myanmar government.

This is really taking on a dreadful proportion of ethnic cleansing in the neighbourhood with disturbing implications for a peace-loving country like Bangladesh. It is a humanitarian concern that allows for no solution through political, sectarian or military means. Its solution lies in an unambiguous humanitarian approach underpinned by an adherence to international citizenship laws. Neither any suppression of ethnic minority by a majority in a country with the security forces looking the other way can be treated as an issue entirely internal to that country. For its spillage effects across the border tends to force another country to be at the receiving end of the ordeal, one way or other.

The heart of the problem lies in Myanmar denying citizenship right to the Rohingya Muslims whose ancestors have been domiciled in the Rakhine state since a few centuries back. We recall President Thein Sein's outright call for deportation of the Rohingyas asking other countries to accept them. In fact, such a rejectionist approach is out of steps with the reformist agenda Myanmar has taken under its quasi civilian government that replaced its oppressive ruling junta last year. The West has ways to leverage Myanmar to restore citizenship rights to the Rohingya Muslims. All that is awaited is its exercise of a will to make it happen.


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