The Rohinga crisis

first_imgThe Rohinga crisis is one of the worst human rights’ disasters of the modern world. In many ways, it is a replay of the Nazi terrorization, expulsion and murder of the Jewish people, which occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. A few countries, such as Denmark, protected their Jewish citizens, but no country in the 1930s condemned, on the international stage, the Jewish persecution. When the condemnation did come, it was too late.It is only now, when half of the Rohinga population have been brutally driven out from their homes — their villages destroyed by fire; many killed, wounded and raped — that the United Nations and some countries have spoken out against the persecution of this ethnic minority by the Myanmar (formerly Burma) military.According to UN estimates, some 380,000 Rohinga refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar have crossed the border into Bangladesh since 25 August. A visit to the area last week by a UN team led by Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, found people suffering real hardship and some of the most difficult conditions seen in any current refugee situation. The team has reported that refugees continue to arrive daily outside of the two established camps, which are already substantially overflowing, and many people have received little meaningful help to date.Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, told the UN General Assembly this week that Myanmar must stop “ethnic cleansing” in Rakhine state, and “safe zones” should be created inside that country to protect all civilians, under the supervision of the United Nations.Myanmar (Burma) has several ethnic minorities, some of whom, like the Karens and the tribes who live in the Golden Triangle — a drug-dealing area bordering China — have been in rebellion against the Myanmar Government. The Myanmar Army has never carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing and destructive brutalization against these rebel minorities as it has done to the Rohingas. The reason why the Rohingas have been singled out is because of stark racial and religious discrimination.The Rohinga people are Muslim by religion, small farmers and peasants, and there are no rich and powerful Rohingas. They are extremely peace-loving people. They number about one and a half million.The Myanmar military and Government have long been persecuting the Rohingas. Rohingas have been denied their citizenship, and, many years before the eruption of the present crisis, they were harassed, and public opinion was encouraged to hate them. The Myanmar Army had long been planning the destruction of the Rohinga community, and adjudged that this was an opportune time to execute its nefarious plan, since the world was distracted by a number of crises. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr António Guterres, took the very unusual step of writing the Security Council, and it was owing to his effort that the Security Council discussed the Rohinga crisis. Owing to the influence of China, which has a strong relationship with the Myanmar military, the communiqué issued was very weak. Despite this, more nations are sympathetic and supportive of the Rohinga people and their suffering.Myanmar has very few friends in the International Community, though its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, had once won a world-wide reputation of being a fighter for Democracy and Human Rights, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize. After her speech to her Parliament last Tuesday, her reputation became further dented, owing to her basically non-committal approach to the Rohinga crisis.The Guyana Government has been presented with a windfall of diplomatic opportunity by this crisis, but it has so far failed to seize the opportunity presented. President L.F.S. Burnham, as he did in the Non-Aligned Movement and in the Anti-Apartheid struggle, would have seized this opportunity. His Foreign Ministers — Sir Shridath Ramphal, Mr Rashleigh Jackson and Mr Rudy Insanally — are still available to be consulted.It is, however, not too late for Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to act. They could, for instance, develop a CARICOM position or bloc on the issue. Guyana could act independently, as Mr Burnham did. As far as we are aware, however, Guyana has not issued a statement condemning the human rights’ abuses perpetrated by the Myanmar military.last_img read more

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