LARKANA: The Rohingya Muslims have suffered racial discrimination for decades in Myanmar. They are gunned down, their villages are burnt, crops destroyed, babies thrown into fire and women raped. The northern state of Rakhine in Myanmar today is synonymous with death, destruction, displacement, poverty, hunger, mass rape and arson, which has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing.
According to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights, the ongoing military operation has killed over 1,000 people and over 500,000 have reached refugee camps in Bangladesh. These atrocities have led to a letter written to the UNSC by a group of conscientious people comprising more than a dozen Nobel laureates, political activists and human rights campaigners. They have criticised Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s failure to protect the most persecuted community. Suu-Kyi’s silence over the state-sponsored carnage is distressing.
Suu Kyi’s mutuality with the military establishment of Myanmar on the Rohingya’s slow genocide is the product of power politics. She understands that speaking for the oppressed Rohingyas, on the one hand, will affect her relations with the security establishment that still holds strong political power despite the country’s democratically elected government in office, and, on the other, will anger Myanmar’s Buddhists, undermining her future electoral prospects. Power corrupts politicians and Suu Kyi is no exception.
But the Rohingya issue is a political problem and can be resolved by political justice and dialogue. Firstly, the discriminatory Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law that renders the Rohingyas stateless in their own country and negates their basic rights, needs to be discarded. After all, they have lived in Myanmar for centuries and by virtue of that should be entitled to the status of citizens.
Nazeer Ahmed Arijo
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2017.