Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Defining Myanmar’s “Rohingya Problem”

Latest article on Myanmar's Rohingya, written in a personal capacity.  It appears in the American University Washington College of Law's Human Rights Brief, linked and attached:

Defining Myanmar’s “Rohingya Problem”
by Benjamin Zawacki*

Much has been written either empathetically or as
a challenge of Myanmar’s “Rohingya problem.”
Between June and November 2012, the Rohingya
bore the brunt of communal violence, human rights violations,
and an urgent humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, and still
face an uncertain future.

A great deal of rhetoric has attended
these accounts—by officials and citizens
of Myanmar, Rohingya organizations,
journalists, human rights groups, and
others—essentially attaching labels to
the situation. And while there have been
a number of thoughtful attempts to define
or even explain the Rohingya problem in
historical or political terms, they have
been largely drowned out by emotive
outbursts and media-friendly sound bites.
This is not only unfortunate, it is also consequential, for as was
seen in 2012, rhetoric can influence both the way in which a
crisis plays out as well as in how it is responded to. In other
words, how we talk about what it is we are talking about matters.
What do we mean when we talk about the “Rohingya problem”?
In proffering a modest definition of Myanmar’s “Rohingya
problem”—one almost entirely of its own making—three
distinct but related areas of law and fact warrant particular
examination: 1) nationality and discrimination, which focuses
exclusively on Myanmar; 2) statelessness and displacement,
which implicates Myanmar’s neighbors as well; and 3) the
doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect, which draws into the
discussion the role of the international community.

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Defining Myanmar's Rohingya Problem.pdfDefining Myanmar's Rohingya Problem.pdf
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