Much has been made of the recent sectarian unrest in western Burma and its ramifications for the country’s fragile reform process. It’s important to note that the violence and subsequent outpouring of anti-Rohingya anger is not a niche issue confined to a specific locale – instead it should be viewed as something more pervasive among many Burman and Arakanese, both inside Burma and abroad, that threatens to contaminate the wider discourse on how to move the country forward.
Among the key catalysts of anti-Rohingya sentiment are, surprisingly, prominent members of Burma’s pro-democracy movement. The hypocrisy of their attempts to vilify an entire ethnic group – labelling them variously as “terrorists”, “illegal immigrants”, “not worthy of citizenship”, and so on – appears lost on them.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s reaction to the unrest was to call for rule of law to be the decider of the status of Rohingya – a deliberately non-committal and vague standpoint. As Sai Latt notes in Asia Sentinel, “The Rohingya case provides a very clear example why the law itself can be a source of problems. Statelessness, ill treatment, and discrimination against the Rohingyas are not simply the results of a lack of the rule of law. Quite contrary, they are legally produced.” (Complete article)
my two cents: If you are interested in these topics, you might also want to see this photo gallery at Washington Post: Forgotten conflicts. It is unfortunate what is going on there but personally I think living in Pakistan I have bigger and more localised issues to be worried about. One of the reasons which prompted me to make this post is the apparent lack of knowledge of people who keep on posting emotional images about Burma/Myanmar. Many of them asking why International media is silent about this, and alleging that this is only because the victims are Muslims. Many of them actually forget that one country denying them all Humanitarian assistance is yet another Muslim country, Bangladesh! Why no one is getting angry about that? (Guardian: Burma’s Rohingya refugees find little respite in Bangladesh)
So know your facts before you start your online-Activism, please!