Rohingya Crisis – Genocide What’s Next? - by Ms Nor Aini binti Mohd Nordin

22nd January 2020-

Rohingya Crisis – Genocide What’s Next?

By Nor Aini binti Mohd Nordin


The horrific residues of 2017 framed Myanmar's year — the fight from death and destruction of over 700,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees, the most massive tragic migration in modern Asian history, and Myanmar's denial of responsibility for the situation are just outrageous.


The Rohingya exodus was fuelled internally by the rise of religious ethnonationalism, which continues to hold back proposed solutions to the crisis and to the myriad of ethnic rebellions that have been the state's hallmark since independence in 1948. 


During recent gathering at the 74th United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has sounded the clarion call for the international community to put the Rohingya crisis squarely on its radar and to resolve it now, since it was clear that the Myanmar government was unwilling to take any action to resolve the crisis.


He also gave the same call at the high-level side event titled 'Rohingya Crisis - A Way Forward" organized by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) saying that what happened was clearly genocide caused by the Myanmar government; therefore, it is up to the international community to do something about it.


Dr Mahathir also did not mince his words over what transpired in Myanmar's western Rakhine state from where members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic community have fled the country en masse towards safety, with most ending up in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. He stated, “Let’s start by calling a spade, a spade. What happened in the Rakhine state is genocide. What took place were mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violations of human rights.”


Currently, Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees, while Malaysia apart from operating a field hospital in Cox's Bazar is now hosting close to 100,000 registered Rohingya refugees, with many more unregistered. Malaysia pledged to continue assisting Rohingya within its means and capacity until they are able to relocate to a third country. However, with the current global crisis and countries closing down their border, these seem very unlikely.


It is well known that the longer the refugees stayed in the camps, the more desperate their situation would become. While the news has shown that the Myanmar government claiming to work toward repatriation of Rohingya, the situation in Myanmar, was not any better as many Rohingyas had become internally displaced persons languishing in camps in Rakhine.


In such a situation, how is it any different from what happened at Jadovno Camp, Omarska Camp, and Gaza Camp? There is no need to mention Auschwitz-Birkenau because when the world likened the IDP camps to those notorious concentration camps of the past, the Myanmar government had been quick to deny. How should we view Myanmar authorities when they have denied access to some UN officials and humanitarian aid workers even those from AHA Center?


It is baffling to see an ASEAN member state behaving in such away. It appears they are contradicting with some of the basic principles of ASEAN such as promoting regional peace and identity, peaceful settlements of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and the renunciation of aggression as well as upholding international law with respect to human rights, social justice and multilateral trade. It is clear if one were to study Myanmar history; this is not the first ethnic genocide to have occurred within its border. The people of Karen are still stateless and living in refugee camps in Northern Thailand.


Dr Mahathir, in his remark at United Nation this year, stressed that Myanmar should demonstrate that it was serious in alleviating the crisis, and in doing so; repatriation should be the main priority. He said this could only be done by granting full citizenship to the Rohingyas. Granting citizenship would have been ideal; however, it will not resolve undercurrent issues that have caused Myanmar to have taken such action.


To overcome this current crisis first, the mental attitude of powers-that-be should be modified from racism to anti-racism. This has got to be wiped out such the way by penance and undoing the negative teaching of the general public for many years.


Second, the government, together with the general public need to accept that the Rohingya are a part of the country’s ethnicity and equipped to integrate them through government establishments. There's no purpose in dispute that as a result of them speaking Bengali than they're foreign. If this is often the case, why doesn’t the government kicked out the Kokangnese, who speak China Mainland Mandarin?


Third, the government should work with the regional or world organization and its Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to redress by permitting transformation justice to right the wrong, consistent with the universal human rights, and in earnest work for reconciliation and reintegration of the Rohingya. These are exactly the three core points that the Naypyitaw Myanmar has got to settle for and apply if it desires to become accepted once more inside the international community.

© 2019 MiDAS, All Rights Reserved