Unwanted Anywhere
covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Unwanted Anywhere

By YENI MAR — APR, 2009 - VOLUME 17 NO.2


The Rohingya remain one of the region’s most neglected ethnic minorities

FOR years, the plight of the Rohingya—a Muslim ethnic minority from the Burma-Bangladesh border—had been fading from world attention.

Then, earlier this year, it abruptly reemerged in the public eye following reports that the Royal Thai Navy had towed more than a thousand Rohingya boat people out to sea in engineless boats with little food or water.

A Rohingya migrant looks out the window of a police van while being transported from jail to he immigration police staion in Thailand’s southern province of Ranong in January. (Photo: AP)
A few hundred were rescued near India’s Andaman Islands and Indonesia’s Aceh Province, but many others were not so lucky, and are presumed to have died at sea.

In February, actress Angelina Jolie, who is also a goodwill ambassador for the UN’s refugee agency, drew even more international attention to the issue during a visit to Karenni refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province.

Although she did not directly criticize the Thai authorities for their treatment of the Rohingya, she said: “As with all people, they deserve to have their human rights respected.”

The Thai government, suddenly under a harsh spotlight for its handling of the issue, has attempted to address the concerns of relief agencies and human rights organizations.

In Burma, however, the ruling regime has adamantly refused to recognize the Rohingya as one of the country’s indigenous peoples, adding fuel to a fire that other countries in the region are trying to contain.

Thailand has long been on the frontlines of Burma’s humanitarian crises, and in this case, it is particularly concerned about the implications of the Burmese junta’s policies.

Not only is Thailand host to an estimated 120,000 refugees and perhaps 2 million migrant workers from Burma, it also has an Islamic separatist insurgency raging in its southern provinces and fears that the arrival of thousands of stateless Muslims could further destabilize the situation.

The Arakan Project, a Thailand-based NGO which advocates for the Rohingya, estimated in June 2008 that more than 8,000 Rohingya had reached Thai shores over the preceding two years, sailing from the coast of Bangladesh to southern Thailand; from there, most traveled overland to Malaysia.

The majority of Rohingya who make this perilous journey are looking for no more than an opportunity to earn a living in a less hostile environment than the one they left behind in Burma. Some, however, seek asylum—a process that is fraught with obstacles.

Thailand and Malaysia are not signatories to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 protocol, which define the rights of asylum seekers and the obligations of states to protect them.

Thus, although the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has representatives in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, the agency’s mandate is subject to restrictions imposed on it by the Thai and Malaysian governments.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, the current Democrat-led government has attempted to deflect some of the criticism it has faced for its handling of this issue by insisting that the international community, and especially regional neighbors, must share responsibility for solving the Rohingya problem.

To this end, Thailand discussed the issue with representatives of the UNHCR and ambassadors from Bangladesh, India, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, and raised it again at the recent summit of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean), which last year formally enacted a charter that obliges member nations to respect human rights.

At the Asean summit, Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win said the boat people would be allowed to return, but only if they identified themselves as “Bengalis” born in Burma, rather than as Rohingyas.

Observers suggested that the Burmese response was just a token gesture to avoid embarrassing Asean governments and to end any discussion of the root causes of the problem, which include widespread human rights abuses in northern Arakan State.

It is clear, however, that Asean cannot afford to let the Burmese generals simply sweep this issue under the rug.

1  |  2 | 3  next page »

Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.

Khin maung win Wrote:
Maung Maung,

If you don't know the correct name and spelling of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, don't try to bark
against the Rohingya. I know you are a new fool.

Aung Ko Wrote:
Kay Win's proposal is absolutely right. SPDC only needs the land of Rohingya and does not want people of that land.

Maung Maung( Ali Khan) Wrote:
“Rohingya” is the new name for “Bengali” in Burma. According to Kay Win, they are trying make a terrorist land of “Arakanistan” like Afghanistan. They requested the Pakistani president to occupy part of Arakan before Burma’s independence. Now the dog is vomiting bananas.

All of us Arakanese know Buthi Down and Maung Daw Bengali Kular want to join Bangladesh because they are Bengali.

I am Muslim, but we should fight all of your Bengali terrorists if they are trying to separate from Arakan. We are living hundreds of years very peacefully with Arakanese people. You are making big problem within 50 years. Nobody is asking you to stay here if you do not wish. You can go Bangladesh - hope you do not need permission.

Moe Aung Wrote:
kay win,

Now there's an idea. Why don't we trade with Bangladesh - Buthidaung and Maungdaw - with the Rohingya, and Chittagong Hill Tracts with the Buddhist Chakma and Marma, a bit like what we did with China in Kachin State, though somewhat on a larger scale and involving different ethnic/religious groups?

kay win Wrote:
Rohingya have similarities with the people of Bangladesh, just as there are similarities between the Rakhines and the Burmans, the Shan and the Thais, the Burmese Chin and the Indian Chin. The fact is, the Rohingya people are not migrants but indigenous people. By universal right, if we Burmese do not like the Rohingya people, northern Rakhine should be an independent country or join with Bangladesh, or the USA or UK or any other country.

JIn Wrote:
Dear Sir,

They are original Bengali, from Chittagong Division, Bangladesh. You know the Indian Navy arrested 155 so-called Rohingya. At last, the Bangladesh government said they would take them back to Bangladesh, saying they are citizens of Bangladesh.

The meaning of Rohingya is not a race or a nation. It is only a word for refugee or homeless.

SY Alam Wrote:
Maung Zaw,

Wow! You have plenty of educated people in your SPDC government. Do they know how to spell dialogue? Thank God we have still blind people like you. Good for the SPDC. You are blind, and they have one eye, so the SPDC's people are better than you.

Maung Zaw Wrote:

Than Shwe washed his hand six times after his handshake with Mr. Gambari. You have shown your true color of heart. Keep it up.

Maung Zaw Wrote:
Moe Gyaw,

You are right. All Muslims currently living in Arkan State are of Bengali descent. Their elders had cheated U Nu's goverment with the creative word "Rohingya." At that time very few educated people were in the goverment. Now we have plenty of highly qualified people who can not be easily fooled. U Nyan Win also said same thing. No Rohingya but Bengali. Bravo!

Cougar Wrote:
FYI, Kaalaa means black in Hindi.

Cougar Wrote:
FYI, Kala means black in Urdu.

Moe Gyaw Wrote:
If those Bengalis didn't make up the story to adopt a new name, it might be worth debating. Say something like we migrated to Rakhine because lands are scarce; overpopulated, and the Bangladesh government doesn’t want us to come back because we mistakenly sided with Pakistan in the Bangladesh independence struggle and so on.
A piece of advice for Bengalis: Honesty is the best policy.

SY Alam Wrote:
To Okkar and True,

If you conduct a DNA test in Arakan, all Rakhines will be Burman. According to a reliable source from Arakan State, all Buddha statues will be replaced with Than Shwe's statue.

Rakhine don't like Buddha because he was a kalar from India. Okkar, why do you still believe in Buddha? Don’t you know he was an Indian kalar? If each and every house has a kalar in their mind and heart, how can you clean every person's mind, heart and house? I think you guys need to see psychiatrists. Before you clean Rohingya you need to take the Buddha from your homes.

SY Alam Wrote:
To True,

For human beings, it is more important to havea beautiful heart and mind than physical beauty. I think you need to see a psychiatrist.

Khin maung win Wrote:
Around 9 AM today, about 30 Arakanese in exile participated a ceremony to recognize their National Flag & Anthem at Taw Kyaung Buddhist temple in Cox’s Bazaar, southern part of Bangladesh.

Procedure were as bellow;

Attendants were praying three times Namotasa as an opening ceremony
U Sandawara Buddhist monk was give speech as a patron
U Rakhawantha young Buddhist monk was read an Arakanese historical Radu ( satirical poem)
Arakan National Flag was flied mean while Arakan National Song was singing
U Sandawara was give speech as a successfully end of their ceremony around 10 AM.

Accordance to an attendant, this ceremony was held in Thailand , India and the Royal Norway also.

The GMA online news
Mr True
What are they doing in Bangladesh?How you define it?Don't lick Burman boot open your eyes think in deep.

Mr.True Wrote:
I read a story when I was young. The name of the story was The Crow (Kyee) who pretended to be a peacock (Doung). Bengali Muslims are very similar to the Crow. They pretend to be an ethnic group of Burma. But other people see them as completely different from Burmese people in culture, religion, features, character, etc. The international community is wise. They don't believe what they hear and see only. They can think deeply to decide if it is true or false.

If Bengali migrant workers want the international community to believe they are an ethnic group from Burma, I would suggest that they buy some good soap and shampoo and wash their bodies at least three times a day until their color changes. And then you can pretend to be an ethnic people from Burma. Good luck in your future!

But remember, you should read the story above first before you do it.

Moe Aung Wrote:
De Thit,

"Chinogya" would definitely get the same treatment. A name change may not even be necessary at this rate. Trouble ahead, thanks to the junta.

Maung Zaw Wrote:
Chinese people will not need to change their name to "Chinogya" because their appearance is like Shan and Karen. Khin Nyunt and Nyan Win (the current foreign minister) can move freely in China. Nobody would be able to distinguish them from Chinese. I will like to thank Irrawaddy for their unbiased, uncorrupt and factual writing. Keep up the good work, Irrawaddy.

SY Alam Wrote:
To De Thit,

According to the history of Arakan, it appears that the name Rohingya has a prehistoric origin. In Burma, ethnic cleansing is going on. If you read history you can understand what happened to Arakanese during Bodawpaya's invasion. The Burmans killed more than 250,000 Arakanese and they forced more than 120,000 Arakanese into exile in Bangladesh; their descendants, who are now Bangladeshi citizens, call themselves Rakhine. The Muslims from Arakan State call themselves Rohingya and want to be recognized as Rohingya. It seems that the Rohingya problem is a symptom of hate crimes by the illegal army. There is nothing wrong with them calling themselves Rohingya—it is perfectly in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter. Most of the Rakhines are not anti-Rohingya, except for bigoted ultranationalists, because they know history. How about you?

Okkar Wrote:
I wonder if Irrawaddy editors are Muslims. They seem to be pro-Islamic and dedicated the whole issue of the Irrawaddy to Bengalis.

Take a look at those photos of refugee supposedly from Burma. Do they look remotely like people from Burma? I think it is high time to call for DNA testing of every single refugee that claims to be from Burma. A proper DNA test can reveal the origin of these people. Thailand and other countries who are looking to send back these refugees should conduct DNA profiling and testing to determine whether or not these refugees belong to Burma at all.

At a time of rising militant Islam and rising terrorist attacks by jihadists, the international community can see the danger in supporting the claim of these Muslim Bengalis. That is the reason why the US and EU are not supporting the Bengali's call. They don't want to see the rise of militant Islam in Asia, either.

De Thit Wrote:
Suppose the Chinese people in Mandalay changed their name to "Chinogya" and claimed they are an indigenous ethnic people of Burma, what would you say on this issue?

SY Alam Wrote:
The Irrawaddy is the world's only window to
Arakan. Thank you very much, Irrawaddy.

Aung Ko Wrote:
The international community cannot solve the root problems of the Rohingya if the future political leaders of Burma have no will to end this crisis. None of the most powerful countries will use its arms to terminate the power of the Burmese junta. It is foolish to hope for the help of Western countries.

We hope the future leaders of Burma will respect the human rights of others, otherwise this region will not be at peace. Some see Arakan as like Gaza, but I believe the people of Gaza want to build their own government—the Rohingya want to survive as human beings in their own land, which is quite different to Gaza.

more articles in this section