It is really painful to witness massacres of ethnic minority Rohingyas in Rakhine State of Myanmar by the military junta while democratically elected government of National League for Democracy (NLD) of Nobel laureate for Peace Aung San Suu kyi is in charge. The mayhem is taking place against the backdrop of the 21st Century Pang Long Peace Conference which concluded on September 03, 2016 with a resolve to settle the ethnic disputes in Myanmar and setting up of the Arakan State Advisory Commission headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to settle the festering Rohingya crisis in Arakan now known as Rakhine State along the Bangladesh border.
The present situation in the Rakhine State and also along the Myanmar-China border does not speak well of the Myanmar government led by the NLD. Borders between Myanmar and China have been threatened by ethnic conflicts as well. The media have reported clashes between the Myanmar armed forces and combined forces of three ethnic armed groups in northern Shan State along China's Yunnan province. During clashes, 10 persons were reportedly killed and 33 injured in the second week of November this year. Several thousand others fled to China's Yunnan province raising concern in Beijing about border security. China has reportedly put its military on alert and called upon Myanmar for an immediate halt to military action to ensure stability in the bordering areas.
Meanwhile, Rohingya ethnic Muslim minority in Rakhine State has been targeted for further persecution on the pretext of arresting the suspects in October 09 attack on three police outposts killing nine border security guards and seizing weapons as well. The military junta has undertaken the present operation apparently to annihilate the ethnic minority from Rakhine State. Shockingly, the NLD government led by Suu Kyi stony has been maintaining a stony silence over the alleged ethnic cleansing operation. In an editorial, the Statesman of India has this to say, "There can be no compelling reason to almost tacitly condone the offensive."
Present violence in Rakhine State by the military junta has caused serious concern around the world over the democratically elected government in Myanmar. In the words of American Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, "initial enthusiasm of the international community to let Myanmar continue on this path of reform on its own seems to be dangerous at this stage." The US envoy was speaking at the Security Council to outline the level of concern over the persecution which is taking place in Myanmar. Spokeswoman of the US State Department, Elizabeth Trudeau, has urged Myanmar to allow credible independent investigation in the Rakhine State.
The chief of the Arakan State Advisory Commission Kofi Annan, while expressing his deep concern over the recent violence in the Rakhine State, said the situation was plunging the state into 'renewed instability and creating new displacement'.
The UN refugee agency says well over 120,000 have fled the Rakhine State since religious riots in 2012. The present violence has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) group said destruction of Rohingya villages is far greater than what the government has admitted. It sought UN intervention in the Rakhine State.
It has been widely reported that during operation by the Myanmar military junta, women were raped, houses of Rohingyas were burnt and several minority Muslims were killed.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali held discussions with foreign diplomats in Bangladesh on November 24 and sought support from the international community to resolve the long-standing Rohingya crisis. The Foreign Minister expressed the hope the situation in Myanmar would be normalised soon and people staying in Bangladesh temporarily would be able to return to their homes without fear.
Earlier, the government of Bangladesh conveyed its concern to Myanmar about humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine State as stated by the Additional Foreign Secretary after summoning the Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh on November 22.
The Myanmar government, by remaining silent, is in effect supporting ruthless operation of the military junta along with hard-core Buddhist leaders including ultra nationalist MA BA THA group to make Myanmar a Buddhist state.
The Rohingya Muslims are not recognised as an ethnic group in Myanmar according to a 1982 law that stipulates that minorities must have prove they lived in Myanmar prior to 1823 before the first Anglo-Burmese war to obtain nationality. This law was enacted by the military junta under the leadership of Gen Ne Win after having received fleeing Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh in 1980.
It is high time the government of Bangladesh in collaboration with China exerted pressure on the United Nations to dispatch its peacekeeping forces to Rakhine and Shan states of Myanmar while a formula should be found out by the Arakan State Advisory Committee to resolve Rohingya issue as early as possible.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.