Despite the atrocities being committed against the Muslims of Arakan, better known as Rohingyas, the international community has so far done nothing to protect these people. The world appears to be sitting on the fence, as these people are being systematically persecuted.
This minority Muslim community in Myanmar — termed the most persecuted people living on the face of earth — has been turned into refugees in their own country. The Rohingyas are a people with no civil rights and from time to time subjected to indiscriminate violence. The world became slightly acquainted with these people following the violent attacks and acts of arson of 2012.
Last month, the government of Myanmar submitted a plan to the United Nations appeared to be aimed at restoring peace, ensuring justice and creating communal harmony. Several countries welcomed and approved the plan thinking that Myanmar was ready to roll back its policy of discrimination against the Muslim minority.
So, what’s the plan? The Rohingya Muslims have been given two options. The first one is that they should obtain the citizenship of neighboring Bangladesh in the first phase. Then only they would be eligible for the citizenship of Myanmar provided they are in possession of various documents as required under the country’s 1982 citizenship law. In the event of refusal to accept this option, the Rohingyas will have only one option left i.e. to live in camps as detainees under horrendous condition and finally face expulsion from the country of their ancestors.
The first option appeared to have a silver lining making it possible for the Rohingya Muslims to obtain Myanmar nationality. However, that is not the case. The real purpose is to officially declare these Rohingyas migrants, who have already lost all their rights under the 1982 law.
We know that a great many Rohingyas who enjoy alien status in their own lands will be unable to provide the documentation concerning their histories required in order to assume Myanmar citizenship again. All documentation about these people’s pasts, together with everything else they owned, was destroyed in the horrifying uprisings that targeted the Rohingyas in 2012. Therefore, those who cannot provide those documents will be stuck as Bangladeshi citizens in their own country, with migrant status, in other words. The Myanmar government will soon send these people to camps on the pretext that they are “aliens,” or else will expel them from the country. These people will also not be recognized by Bangladesh because they were not born there. This law is not binding on Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, those who refuse to obtain Bangladeshi citizenship will be taken from towns and villages where they live and sent to refugee camps as detainees. Under the new plan, these people will be swiftly expelled from the country, and the Myanmar government may apply to the UN to send these people overseas as refugees. The problem is that the UN does not recognize these oppressed people as refugees. Under the plan, one million Rohingyas will face that terrible end.
Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, says: “This plan is profoundly troubling because it would strip the Rohingya of their rights, systematically lock them down in closed camps in what amounts to arbitrary, indefinite detention.”
The world’s superpowers and member countries of ASEAN are known to have imposed no sanctions on the Myanmar government and to merely watch matters from afar because of the energy corridors that pass through Myanmar and out of concern that this might harm their commercial relations. It is true that crimes against humanity are being perpetrated across a wide area and in the most barbaric manner. Yet this silence concerning the Muslims of Rohingya, one of the subjects that the countries of the world could easily take measures over and resolve, is inexplicable. The possibility of the deceptive appearance of this proposal by the Myanmar government convincing some countries and the UN will make the situation even more horrifying.
There is a reason why violence, anger and war are spreading in this time when realpolitik has superseded humanity, when politics is perceived as oppression and when countries ally themselves around self-interest rather than love. The reason is that people and countries do not regard love as a solution. The people of a country have for years been living under persecution and facing genocide before the eyes of the world, and the world knows this, but still says nothing. This means the problem is one of conscience, not evidence.
The human drama going on in Myanmar for so long is no secret. Covering it up and seeing nothing wrong in permitting evil will just strengthen the troubles afflicting the world. Countries of the world must therefore prioritize justice and love, rather than self-interest, first in the name of mankind, and then in consideration of this horrifying scenario. The world must therefore extend a hand to the Rohingya Muslims who have been systematically persecuted for so long. It must not be deceived, but must find a solution for this wronged people. It is a fact that countries that hold meetings all over the world that sign oil and natural gas treaties and that buy arms from and sell missiles to one another are also strong enough to protect a handful of victimized people and to convince the Myanmar government on this issue. To that end, countries must turn away from calculations of realpolitik and show that their consciences have not atrophied. Let us see if they are ready to do that!