'International support' keeping Rohingya from taking up arms
The religious fault lines between Myanmar's Buddhist majority and Rohingya Muslims will worsen after the country’s federal election on 8 November, say experts, highlighting the anti-Rohingya attitude prevalent among the majority community. This could result in wider security repercussions for the region.
The international community, particularly the United Nations (UN)-led institutions, must keep pressing Myanmar’s inaugural State counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on the Rohingya refugee crisis, said Professor Nehginpao Kipgen, Executive Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA).
“I wouldn’t say that there is a heightened risk of Rohingya taking up arms in larger numbers as long as the international partners are engaged with Myanmar on the issue,” the academic said, responding to a question from Sputnik during a panel discussion on the Myanmar elections on Monday. The webinar was organised by a publicly-funded Indian think tank, the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
Myanmar’s neighbours such as Bangladesh, home to the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, and India have expressed concerns over Rohingya refugees joining the ranks of militants. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has even called 1.1 million Rohingya refugees hosted in her country a “National security threat” and has been calling for their repatriation.
Kipgen, however, said that there would be no homecoming in the near future for Rohingya refugees currently lodged in Bangladesh.
“They (Rohingya) are not accepted as citizens of Myanmar by the Buddhist majority community, which comprises two-thirds of the population. Support for Suu Kyi’s NLD (National League for Democracy) is strong among the majority of community members living in the regions,” the expert explained.
Kipgen also reckoned that Rohingya refugees and their international partners must now look beyond repatriating the members of the persecuted minority in their native Rakhine State, where the community members have found themselves entrapped in the crossfire between the security forces and the militant groups.
“Other countries must now think of integrating the Rohingya refugees in their host countries. There should be resettlement in neighbouring and Western countries under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) norms,” suggested the analyst.
“We can be certain of the fact that all the Rohingya refugees are not going to return to Myanmar. Even if some of them do, it is going to take time,” Kipgen said.
He further underlined that Myanmar’s economic growth had slowed under Suu Kyi since she helped her National League for Democracy (NLD) clinch comfortable majorities in both the House of Representatives (Lower House) and House of Nationalities (Upper House) in the 2015 elections.
“This could lead her to outsource Myanmar’s economic recovery to China in the coming days. Making peace with the warning ethnic groups in the country’s northern and eastern regions and boosting economic growth have been her two major poll planks,” remarked Kipgen.
(To be contd)