The government of Myanmar has created a plan to expel the country’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority. Under the proposal, all Rohingya who refuse to identify themselves as “Bengalis” (a term used for illegal migrants from Bangladesh) and do not have documentation acceptable to the government will be detained in camps before being driven out of the country. Incredibly, the government appealed to the United Nations last month for assistance with this project. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, not surprisingly, refused to help relocate people being interned by their own government.
Some 140,000 of the estimated 1.1 million Rohingya in Myanmar are already living in internment camps, forced to flee their homes by anti-Muslim rampages incited by the radical Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his extremist group 969. The conditions in the camps are appalling. In addition to malnutrition, a lack of medical care, employment and education, the Rohingya face beatings and torture by local authorities. More than 100,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar by boat for Malaysia and Thailand. Thousands more have fled overland.
This is only the latest form of persecution. Under a 1982 law, Myanmar denied citizenship to the Rohingya, and last November it rejected a United Nations resolution calling for it to grant them citizenship. Instead, the government of President Thein Sein came up with the new proposal, which falsely holds out the possibility of citizenship at some future time, but only if the Rohingya agree to reclassification as Bengalis and have the required documents, which thousands of displaced people simply don’t have. The plan would result in the enforced segregation and expulsion of a people based on their ethnic and religious identity.
Myanmar is expected to received $5 billion this fiscal year in foreign investments, thanks to the easing of economic sanctions by the United States and Europe on the promise of continued democratic and human-rights reforms. The United States and other governments must make it clear that Myanmar will face consequences if it continues to abuse the Rohingya.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/opinion/the-persecution-of-the-rohingya.html?smid=tw-sharesource:The New York Times