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Myanmar: the Rohingya's plight

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Myanmar: the Rohingya's plight

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It is significant that the Burmese Foreign Minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, called out for help to find a solution to the Rohingya’s situation. The former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kofi Annan arrived in the west of the country on Tuesday with a message of peace.

“To build the future, the two major communities have to move beyond decades of mistrust and find ways to embrace shared values of justice, fairness and equity. We are here to help provide ideas and advice.”

A frosty reception

But the Buddhist Nationalists gave Annan a hostile welcome. “No interference in local affairs”, “no foreigners to solve our problems”, chanted the demonstrators from Rakhine in the west of the country.

Who are the Rohingyas?/h3>

The Rohingya minority represent between 800,000 and 1.3 million Muslims. They have no rights in Myanmar (aka Burma) which is 80-90% Buddhist.
Historians dispute their origins. The official line is that they came from neighbouring Bangladesh, at the end of the 19th century, during British colonization.

A suitable history

This version of events suited successive governments and nationalists well. In 1982, the military junta listed the country’s 135 recognized ethnic groups, which they dubbed “national races” meaning present before the arrival of the British. The Rohingya were excluded, and became de facto stateless. They are considered illegal immigrants with no rights.

The riots of 2012

In 2012, violence broke out in the region causing over 200 deaths mainly on the minority’s side. Their villages are burned, they are killed, raped, terrorized and starved. Many NGOs denounce these actions as a genocide orchestrated by authorities, local groups and Buddhist monks.

Fleeing without a destination

Fleeing persecution and misery, is this minority group’s lot. They regularly try to leave Burma on makeshift boats. Dozens of them lose their lives each time.Their efforts are often hopeless because the Rohingya are not welcomed anywhere.

Bangladesh is said to be where the Rohingya come from. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees can be found there. But Bangladesh does not want the Rohingya either. Neither do Malaysia, Indonesia or anywhere else they have sought refuge.

The situation must be resolved in Burma.
It is now in the hands of the new government.

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