Need for Sovereign Rohingya State

Iqbal Khan

New York Times has reported that “first batch (out) of the 720,000 Rohingya who fled slaughter, rape and village burnings in their homeland are being forced back by Bangladesh to Myanmar”. The United Nations (UN) estimates have it that at least 10,000 people were killed during last year’s ethnic cleansing by Myanmar military. This repatriation has repeatedly been delayed. Except Bangladesh and Myanmar who think such a return as a good idea, there are hardly any buyers of such a forced eviction. Myanmar insists that “Rohingya are interlopers from Bangladesh despite many living for generations in western Rakhine state of Myanmar”, they have long been denied basic political rights and liberties. Bangladesh does not accept that Rohingyas have a Bengali lineage. Anthropologists believe that Rohingya roots trace back to Saudi Arabia.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that forcing the first batch of about 2,200 Rohingya living in refugee camps to ground zero of mass violence against the minority Muslim group would be a “clear violation” of core international legal principles. Human rights groups have called the move “dangerous and premature.” A number of Human Rights groups say “they are shocked”. Even the people who will be affected the most, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, are upset that their future, once again, is being decided without their input.

According to a 2018 UN inquiry, Myanmar’s military killed at least 750 people in one village and at least 10,000 in its broader operations in the western state of Rakhine, where many of the country’s Rohingya Muslims live. The report describes the military’s brutal actions in detail, from throwing infants into a fire to systematically raping women and girls. UN report called for constitutional changes and an overhaul of the military.

The UN panel named Myanmar’s army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, as one of six top commanders who should stand trial in an international court for genocide and crimes against humanity. Voluminous 444-page report, gave details of the atrocities that drove more than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh and that prompted the group to level accusations of genocide. The panel called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC), or to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those, including the army chief, who have been identified as responsible for the violence.

As usual Myanmar flatly denied its military had committed atrocities. It said troops were reacting to attacks by Rohingya militants on border security police and several villages. Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, had slammed report as “one-sided” and “flawed”. Myanmar’s army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents who staged deadly raids on border posts in August 2017. Darusman said the “scale, cruelty and systematic nature of the sexual violence reveal beyond doubt that rape is used as a tactic of war.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has recently commented that he was “very disappointed” by Suu Kyi´s failure to defend the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority. Mahathir made his remarks less just before standing alongside Suu Kyi for a stoney-faced photo shoot at the start of the ASEAN regional summit in Singapore on November 13. “Someone who has been detained before should know the sufferings and should not inflict it on the hapless,” Mahathir told reporters. Malaysia appealed to Myanmar to accept Rohingya as citizens.

Suu Kyi is continuously being snubbed by international community. She was stripped of Freedom of Oxford award in 2017, because of her response to the Rohingya crisis. Suu had completed her undergraduate degree at Oxford University, she was granted the honour in 1997 for her “struggle for democracy”. But Oxford City Council voted unanimously to support a motion that said it was “no longer appropriate” to celebrate Ms Suu Kyi, who has come under fierce criticism for inaction in the face of reported atrocities against Rohingya. Oxford’s reputation is “tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence”, local councillor and Labour Party member Mary Clarkson said in a speech proposing the motion. Earlier she had lost a similar Freedom award from Sheffield city council and her former college St Hugh’s had removed her portrait from public display.

Canada revoked her honorary citizenship last month and the US Holocaust Museum in March took back an award named after concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel. Amnesty International (AI) has stripped Suu Kyi of its top award over indifference to atrocities. Amnesty’s move is the latest in a string of rescinded accolades. “Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights,” Amnesty International chief Kumi Naidoo said in a letter to Suu Kyi released by the group. Interestingly, Norway’s Nobel Institute has no intention of withdrawing its Peace Prize from Suu Kyi, “There is no question of the Nobel Committee withdrawing the peace prize,” director Olav Njolstad said. “The rules of the Nobel Peace Prize do not allow it,” he added.

So far Aung Suu Kyi’s leadership performance has been derisive. Her election had ended more than a half-century of military rule; yet the hegemony has not retrieved; and Bonapartism is galore. She declared ending the long-running ethnic insurgencies as her top priority, but her effort has proved ineffective.

But the billion dollar question is that how long the current World political order would take to assume ownership of Myanmar crisis? Time has already reached for declaring Rakhine as a sovereign State where Rohingyas could live peacefully and practice their religion peacefully.



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