Displacing Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims as a solution to the violence against the country’s Muslim community is as appalling and irrational as such a solution would be for the Palestinian people who have “every right to be exactly where they are,” says an analyst.
Sectarian violence re-emerged between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims on October 21 and continued all week in at least five townships of Minbya, Mrak-U, Myebon, Rathedaung, and Kyauk Pyu.
Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said on Friday that 112 people had been killed in the latest clashes between members of the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities. He said 72 people were reported injured, including 10 children.
The Myanmarese government says more than 2,800 houses were burned down in the violence.
Communal violence and related abuses by state security forces against Rohingya Muslims began in early June.
Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas as citizens and classifies them as illegal migrants, although the Rohingyas have resided in the country for centuries.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Linh Dinh, Vietnamese-American political analyst and writer in Pennsylvania, to further discuss the issue.
The program also offers the opinions of two other guests: Chris Bambery, a political analyst from London, and Maxine Dovere, a New York-based reporter.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
We know that Human Rights Watch has released satellite imagery of a certain village in Myanmar showing the exact number of houses that have been torched. More than 800 buildings we are hearing and floating barges being destroyed; set on fire. What do you think is the Myanmarese government’s role in all this and is it actually helping to stop this violence?
Well, the US and the West, they are remaining silent on this because they have nothing to gain from intervening. For decades Myanmar, Burma was ruled by a military Junta that was pro-China and anti-West. So now it has a government that is opening up towards the West and moving away from China. So the West is not going to upset this balance, this opening that it has.
So of course it’s going to remain silent on this issue; it doesn’t want to say anything critical of the government although the government is obviously in the wrong.
This Burmese government is obviously in the wrong because these people are native to Burma, native to Myanmar and yet they are not citizens. You know, they are stateless, they are unprotected and they are persecuted against but the US is not going to put the current Burmese government in a bad light so that’s why it’s remaining silent.
And you have to be careful too about asking for the West to intervene because whenever the West intervenes, it only does so for its own interest, for its own benefits, it’s never doing so for human rights reasons. So whenever it intervenes in a situation it usually makes it much worse.
Speaking about the 1984 law that Maxine was just referring to there, Linh Dinh that law of course excludes the Rohingya Muslims as one of the countries ethnicities and denies them of their basic civil rights but what should be done about this right now when we are seeing they are part of the population in Myanmar. No other country, even Bangladesh from which a lot of them came actually to Myanmar is willing to accept them back. So what should be done about this law?
Well, the UN should do all it can right now to alleviate the human suffering but the bigger issue is the political situation; how are these people going to be acknowledged and enfranchised as a part of Burmese society and there is no one willing to fight for them.
So if they resort to outside help, say to other Muslims’ organizations they will be accused of being terrorists. So what we have is-- we don’t have a mechanism, the means to address this situation politically because the UN is basically only willing to fight for US and Western interests.
When it comes to these other groups, it usually sides against them. So we don’t’ have the means to address this issue politically but at the very least something should be done to help them on a humanitarian basis at the moment because it’s a very urgent emergency.
Linh Dinh, a lot of people were saying that what is actually happening in Myanmar now and the government’s opposition to giving citizenship rights to these people is not a matter actually of ethnicity but rather a matter of religion. They don’t want the Muslims as part of religious group to be in Myanmar rather than as part of the Rohingya ethnic group. Now would you agree with that?
Well, many people are disappointed that [Burmese opposition Nobel Peace Prize winner and chairperson of the NLD] Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy (NLD) haven’t spoken up for these Muslims but they rely for their support on Buddhists and mostly the Buddhist monks.
The Buddhist monks are very powerful in Burma. So I’m afraid Aung San Suu Kyi is already thinking like a politician, you know, she might become the next president of Burma so she is not going to speak up for these Muslims because she must rely on the Buddhist vote, the Buddhist support- that’s her base. So she is willing to sacrifice these Muslims for her political ambitions I’m afraid and this dovetails nicely with what the West wants to happen in Burma.
Linh Dinh would you say that is a workable and applicable solution. What kind of a solution is needed here that could be lasting. Do you think that the important issue here is to give them the citizenship or to somehow rather take them out of the country and give them a haven?
Well, it would be appalling if it comes to that because there is no reason why they should go anywhere. There is no reason why they should be relocated because they belong there. You know this situation is so similar to the Palestinians in Palestine, a people who has every right to be exactly where they are and yet they are stateless and deprived and persecuted. So they should not go anywhere but like I said there is no mechanism to solve this problem politically.