| Opinion | Fri, February 20 2009, 2:57 PM
The Rohingya, denied Myanmar nationality by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), are a stateless people with no means of claiming rights or protection.
Therein, they face a daily tyranny against their ability to move freely around the country, as well as discrimination from the authorities on account of their South Asian ethnicity and Muslim faith. As a consequence, many Rohingya have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. While a small number have gone to Thailand and Malaysia, the vast majority have sought refuge in Bangladesh. Each year, scores of Rohingya escape from Myanmar’s Rakhine state by boat, often turning up in Thailand, Malaysia or as far away as Indonesia. Mostly during the winter, thousands pay to board rickety smugglers’ boats for Thailand, whence a bus can take them to Malaysia, to seek work or asylum.
This season, Thai soldiers had a nasty surprise in store. After being held for days on a remote island of Ranong, two groups of nearly 1,000 captured Rohingyas and Bangladeshis were forced, at gunpoint, out to sea in the Indian Ocean on several boats. The vessels had little food and, crucially, no engines.
Some drifted west to India’s Andaman Islands. Others washed up in Indonesia’s Aceh province. More than 500 are believed missing or dead, according to a tally of survivors’ accounts. One group of more than 400 refugees was set adrift on a barge with two sacks of rice and two gallons of water. Most perished trying to swim ashore. On Jan. 7, the Indonesian Navy rescued another group of 192. Others may have been lost at sea.
ASEAN as a regional network has been aware of the Rohingya issue since the early 1990s, after the refugee influx to Bangladesh. Regarding the regional context, ASEAN is not willing to intervene, seeing Myanmar’s ethnic minorities as an internal matter.
It serves members’ interests, however, to offer a framework to tackle the Rohingya as part of a transnational migration problem. In this state of affairs, we recommended that: First, that the SAARC, ASEAN and BIMSTEC develop a durable solution for this ethnic group; second, that the UNHCR, the international community and civil society find an equitable regional solution to meet the Rohingya people, those forced to leave Myanmar. Third, that the Myanmar government be pressured to find an acceptable solution to the ongoing human rights violation occurring within the country, including the 1982 citizenship law, which renders the Rohingya stateless. And fourth, that urgent humanitarian assistance be ensured for the “boatpeople”.
Dec 13, 2016 0
Oct 04, 2012 Comments Off