Pogrom of Minority Rohingya in Myanmar

SPOTLIGHT, 25 Sep 2017

Mohammad Amjad Hossain – TRANSCEND Media Service

It is high time that world body should make an all-out effort to stop present pogrom of minority Rohingya in Rakhine state by armed forces of Myanmar known as Tatmadaw. Pogrom resemblance of tactic adopted by Nazi Germany against Jewish minority. Only difference is that Nazi Germany used gas chamber to kill Jewish in concentration camps whereas military junta of Myanmar torching villages of Rohingya, burnt houses and stop aid to Rohingya who are in the camps and restriction imposed on movement. Attack which has begun on 25 August is the latest incursion of Myanmar armed forces on the pretext of killing of one soldier and six police personnel and civilian including Rohingya by Rohingya militants as reported by office of State Counselor.

This is the first time that Rohingya militants took arms after having lost of several hundred lives, homes and properties by border security forces of Myanmar since 2012. According to BBC, more than 100.00 Rohingya  refugees  have  entered Bangladesh since army operation has begun in Rakhine state on 25 August accusing  Myanmar authorities of ethnic cleansing while International Organization for migrant reported about 18,500 Rohingya crossed into  Bangladesh. New York based Human Rights watch said satellite photos appear to show  widespread  burning in ten areas of North Rakhine state. The World Food Program of United Nations reported 80,000 Muslim Rohingya children are starving in Rakhine State.

In fact, Rohingya was expelled by the military junta under General Ne Win of Burma in 1979 now  known as Myanmar. As many as 200,000 were given shelter by government of Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds. A diplomatic  maneuver was exercised by Bangladesh  government to convince friendly  countries, including Malaysia’s government of Datuk Hussein  Onn to put pressure on the Burmese government to take back Rohingya minority community to Burma. A bilateral agreement was signed between the Bangladesh government and Burmese government of Gen. Ne Win for repatriation. Within a span of sixteen months they were repatriated back to Burma. In 1982, the Burmese  government  had made an amendment to the citizenship law which  took away citizenship of  Rohingyas in Burma. The ruling army junta changed its name from Union of Burma to Union of Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising against army junta when denied handing over power to winner of National League for Democracy(NLD) of Aung San Suu Kyi in November of 1988. That law barred President of NLD to become President of Myanmar.

Rohingya people again became victim of Myanmar military junta in 1990 when they conducted an operation under Nagamin (Dragon King) in an effort to eliminate illegal immigrants from the  country. Military Junta concentrated on the Rakhine state to drive out Rohingya. Local Buddhists along with the military attacked Rohingya which caused 270,000 of them flee by March of 1990 from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

This writer recalled that present Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has had discussion on 12 July of 2012 as  UN High  Commissioner for Refugees with Myanmar’s  immediate  past President General Thein Sein to find solution of ethnic enmity. Myanmar former President told UN High commissioner for Refugees that solution to the ethnic enmity would be solved if they are either send to a third country or have the UNHCR look after them. That means Myanmar President walked away from his commitment to take back Rohingyas from Bangladesh. This commitment was made to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina when she paid a visit to Myanmar in  December of 2011.

It is doubtful that recommendation of Independent commission led by former Secretary-General of UN Kofi Annan to resolve chronic crisis in Rakhine state would be carried out by the office of State Counselor successfully because when the commission was set up last year Tatmadaw backed Union Solidarity and development Party (USDP), now branded as MA BA Tha Islamophobic monk organization, and Rakhine nationalists jointly rejected formation of commission which was seen as  intervention by foreigners in internal affairs.

Having seen denial of basic Human rights, lack of rule of law, lack of democratic system and denial of basic rights of all minority groups, redrawing borders of minority states Myanmar ultra-nationalist policies adopted by all successive military regimes will not surrender power as indicated in 1982 controversial law. I recalled Union of Burma signed Pan Long Treaty on 12 February of 1947 ensuring rights of minority groups they deserve by most of the representatives of minority communities and father of modern Burma Gen. Aung San, father of present State Counselor  Suu  Kyi, and others. Military regime following killing of Gen. Aung San has continued ignoring fundamental rights of minorities.

Earlier, US Ambassador to UN Nicky Haley has spoken to international community to stand together and called on Burma’s government to cooperate with a UN mission charged with probing alleged abuses by military and security forces.  Ambassador of the United Kingdom Matthew  Rycroft urged on the Security Council to discuss reports of mass civilian casualties after raiding by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya militants. Security Council condemned killings on both sides but did not make any strong statement because of insistence by Chinese Ambassador to UN. It is high time that China should realize predicament in Myanmar because China is facing brunt around its own border as a result of Chinese origin Kachin ethnic minority in Kachin state in Northern Myanmar are fighting against military Junta of Myanmar. Conflict in Kachin state  occasionally spills over to Chinese border.

Apart from Foreign Minister of United Kingdom, Turkish President, Iranian  President, Indonesian President criticized world leaders to show lukewarm  criticism against Myanmar  government. Turkish President praised Bangladesh government for providing sanctuaries to Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. Foreign Minister of Indonesia is now visiting Bangladesh to discuss about plight of Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar who took shelter in Bangladesh, Malaysia  and Indonesia, largest Muslim country in the World. It is understood Malaysia ‘s foreign ministry summoned Myanmar’s envoy to lodge strong protest against inhuman treatment meted out to Rohingya minority Muslims.

This being the situation on the ground this writer suggests to the Secretary-general of the United Nations, who is fully aware of the fate of Rohingya minority in  Myanmar, to send peace-keeping forces of the UN to Rakhine State to protect security of minority community of Rakhine state, apart from bring back Rohingya from around neighboring countries to their homeland.  Security  Council should consider imposing economic sanctions against Myanmar government as well.  Enough bloods have flown in the Naf river. Stop bloodshed further and resolve man-made crisis. Onus lies with the world body.


Mohammad Amjad Hossain is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh. Ex-president of Nova chapter of Toastmaster International club of America, he has been contributing to Daily Star, Financial Express and Weekly Holiday of Bangladesh, plus Today’s Zaman, English version of the Turkish daily stopped by President Erdogan.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Sep 2017.

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