* By Dr. Abu Omar
The latest episode of Rohingya genocidal massacre unleashed since August 25, 2017 by Burmese military resulting in the death of several thousand Rohingyas and influx of nearly 800,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh caused huge hue and cry around the globe demanding Burmese regime to stop violence against the Rohingya people immediately and calling the international community to undertake necessary steps to solve their problem.
The UN Security Council met three times over the issue but ended in failure to adopt any resolution. Lastly the President of the Security Council came up with a statement condemning Burmese action against the Rohingya and called on her to stop the violence and allow the refugees to return to their homes in safety and security. Earlier UN General Assembly’s Third Committee called on Myanmar to end military operations that have “led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights” of the Rohingya Muslims. The Third Committee which focuses on human rights, voted 135 in favour, 10 against with 26 abstentions on the draft text. On December 25 UN Human rights Council strongly condemned Myanmar at a special session for the “very likely commission of crimes against humanity” by state security forces assisted by non-state actors in Arakan and its chief expressed that “ how anyone could rule out elements of genocide might be present”. Meanwhile the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) came out with strong condemnation and demand to stop violence against Rohingya immediately and restore their citizenship rights. International Human Rights organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF), Fortify Rights and many other advocates of human rights say “Our findings indicate genocide has been committed” against the Rohingya people. However, although many countries condemn Burma for atrocity committed against Rohingya their statements are short of the use of the term “genocide against Rohingya” while country like Malaysia clearly stated that Burma is carrying out “genocide” against the Rohingya people.
Apart from the flurry of diplomatic activities by various quarters the UN Human Rights Council decided to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission constituted by three world famous experts to Myanmar and refugee camps to investigate what has really happened there. The Myanmar government not only denied access to the UN fact-finding mission but also continues to deny access of humanitarian assistance, international observers and international NGOs to the affected areas. In spite of serious censorship and condemnation from the international community for perpetrating heinous crimes against the Rohingya people, the Myanmar regime continues to flatly deny commitment of any wrong doing but continues to kill Rohingyas, burn their villages and make lives of the Rohingya unbearable resulting continuous exodus.
In the face of growing international criticism Myanmar used all tricks and lies to mislead the international community and cover up the crimes of genocide. First and foremost lie is that the conflict in Rakhine is depicted as “inter-communal” between Muslim and Buddhist communities. In reality it is a “state sponsored project of eliminating Rohingya people” where the Rakhine Buddhists are just collaborators. The second big lie is that the Myanmar regime is carrying out legitimate counter-insurgency operation following attack by militants. The so-called militant attacks occurred only after October 2016. If the regime’s assertion is true why anti-Rohingya mass killings and destruction of their villages happened in 2012 causing more than 200,000 to be interned in IDP camps and triggered large exodus of people by boat towards Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia which was dubbed as “Rohingya boat-people”, when there was no insurgent attacks at all ? The third big lie is that the Rohingya people are “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh”. Every unbiased Myanmar observer must know that the Rohingya people have been living in Myanmar before independence of the country in 1948 and the community had established in Arakan before it was colonised by British. After 1948 the traffic of Rohingya people is a ‘one-way traffic’ from Arakan to outside world due to persecution as a result of which almost half of their total population is in Diaspora today. And if they are illegal immigrant how come all Rohingya had the right of voting and right to be elected all along since 1947 constituent assembly elections till their voting right was rescinded in last general election held in 2015?. The fourth big lie is that there had never been ‘Rohingya’ in Myanmar which was invented by insurgents and the so-called Rohingya people are in fact “Bengalees”. The Rohingya people have been recognized as a distinct ethnic group of Myanmar like all other ethnic group of Myanmar by the constitutional government from 1948 to 1962 and it was gazetted in Encyclopedia Burmanica published by Myanmar ministry of Information and publicity. There had been a “Rohingya language program” broadcasted from BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) regularly which continued up to 1965. More over there are ample historical evidences alluding Muslims of Arakan as “Rohingya”
Another big obstacle towards establishing truth is that there is a serious discrepancy between facts and the stance of the international community on Rohingya issue. All international players are asserting to “implement the recommendations of Kofi Anan advisory commission” among others for solving the Rohingya crisis without deeply delving into circumstances in which the recommendations were made. The Burmese government has also been insisting that they have agreed with and has been implementing the recommendations of Kofi Anan commission because the Commission’s recommendations suit their objective. Regarding the question of citizenship, the commission has recommended “to accelerate the verification of citizenship based on 1982 citizenship law” and enhance the issuance of National Verification Certificate (NVCs) to the Rohingyas. This recommendation is totally against the fact, which is a ploy of the regime to turn most of the Rohingyas “non-citizens”. One must keep in view that the enactment of 1982 new Citizenship Law is a part of the genocidal scheme against the Rohingya people. The Burmese government has no difficulty to implement the Kofi Anan’s this recommendation as the government of Myanmar shall decide who should be granted citizenship based on 1982 law and who should not be and it is most certain that overwhelming number of Rohingya could not fulfil the conditions of 1982 law. In such a circumstance accepting NVC shall tantamount to wilfully confessing oneself a foreigner with the hope of attaining citizenship. The practical experience of those who received NVCs under duress and who are granted so-called citizenship are living testimony of what the Burmese regime wants. If the international community sings the same song as the Myanmar, it will not benefit the Rohingya in the least.
The citizenship of Rohingya is already a settled matter. No question of verification arises but only for pursuing the genocide of the Rohingya. It is very much clear that the Myanmar regime does not want Rohingya in Arakan and regards them as pests to be cleared off at any cost. They have not the slightest sincerity to honour the rights of the Rohingya. They are full of hypocrisy in dealing with the international community to allay their fear and give an impression that they are sincerely trying to find a genuine solution. They are like a bear and the Rohingya like a sheep. Now if the international community insists Rohingya to undergo verification and return to Myanmar as the Myanmar wants, it would be as if to say the bear to treat the sheep humanely and the result would be a foregone conclusion.
As the Rohingya crisis receives worldwide attention it has become crystal clear who are the perpetrators and who are the victims. In spite of trying to bring the culprits to the book if the international community goes on persuading the Myanmar regime, to accept the Rohingyas it will be tantamount to exonerating the Myanmar regime of genocidal crimes against the Rohingya people. It is amazing that Bangladesh and Myanmar are proceeding with the process of repatriation without involvement of any third party and without any guarantee of their safety, security and freedom. Bangladesh should not forget the fact that Myanmar has betrayed Bangladesh twice in 1979 and 1993 concerning Rohingya issue. Bangladesh may be under severe pressure from China and India to strike a deal this time around also, but it is almost sure that the refugees will not be willing to return under the present situation prevailing in Arakan. Given the clear facts explained above, it is now the responsibility of the international community to do whatever is needed to bring about a safe and voluntary repatriation and find a genuine solution and can in no way leave the matter to the whims of Bangladesh and Myanmar governments.
[*The writer is a community leader , columnist and Human Rights activist.Views expressed in the above article are of his own and may not necessarily match with Rohingya National TV(RNTv). The RNTv is not responsible for any points/parts or whole of the article.]