They have been described as the world’s most persecuted minority — rejected by the place they call home and unwanted elsewhere, the Rohingyas of Myanmar continue to suffer at the hand of Myanmar’s executive forces.
An estimated 1.1 million Rohingyas reside in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where 78 percent people live under the poverty line according to World Bank. The 2014 census, the first to be conducted in Myanmar after 30 years, excluded Rohingya from the list of 135 officially recognized ethnic groups.
At least 87,000 Rohingyas have been displaced since a military crackdown in the western Rakhine state in early October 2016.The crackdown was in response to attacks on Burmese border posts in October 2016 by unidentified insurgents.
Many human rights organisations have condemned the actions of the Myanmar army and police force. Following the military crackdown in 2016, dozens of people were killed and many were arrested. As the crackdown continued, the casualties increased. Arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, brutalities against civilians, and looting were carried out. As of November 2016, Myanmar had yet to allow the media and human rights groups to enter the persecuted areas. Hence, the exact figures of civilian casualties remain unknown. The Rakhine State is termed an ‘information black hole’ by media outlets.
The Rohingya crisis can essentially be identified as a political issue. The ultimate solution to this lies in granting full time citizenship to the minority. However, this crisis deserves more time in the spotlight.
Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of Myanmar and a Nobel Prize winner, has continued her leadership in silence with regards to the Rohingya crisis. Despite being a peace prize laureate, Kyi has repeatedly shown indifference to the plight of Rohingya and has addressed matters regarding their situation with ambiguity. Her perceived indifference and unwillingness to address this heart wrenching issue raises questions about her commitment to bring peace. If she is to remain complicit in such crimes against Rohingya, it is time for her to give up her peace award.
Unfortunately, the United Nations and other influential humanitarian organisations have done nothing more than issuing statements. Selective displays of humanity by international community are condemnable. As for Myanmar’s powerful neighbors — China and India — Myanmar is nothing but another untapped resource waiting to be explored. Their lack of involvement screams how humanitarian intervention is reserved for strategic usefulness and not to protect the most persecuted minority.
Daily Times, August 7, 2017