Finally, Rohingyas get the attention

Finally, after so much blood has been shed, thousands of homes have been torched, and 600,000 refugees have fled into Bangladesh, the Rohingyas of Myanmar have the world attention. It was one of the issues discussed among world leaders gathered during the recent 31st ASEAN summit and East Asia summit in Manila.

During the conference, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner, repeatedly faced pressure from her fellow ASEAN leaders as well as world leaders to explain how her country would solve step by step the Rohingya crisis, and how the displaced minority would be repatriated from Bangladesh to their home region in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi held bilateral meetings with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the crisis.

Earlier on, only Muslim countries were taking the cudgel for the persecuted Rohingyas namely, Malaysia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Muslims of Chechnya in Grozny in Russia also denounced the “ethnic cleansing” in Myanmar.

The persecution of the Rohingyas by the military rulers of Myanmar has been consistent. These military crackdowns started in 1978, 1991–1992, 2012, 2015 and 2016–2017. UN officials and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have described Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing. The UN human rights envoy to Myanmar reported "the long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community that could amount to “crimes against humanity”.

The 1982 Myanmar laws "effectively deny to the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring a nationality. Despite being able to trace Rohingya history to the 8th century, Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight "national races". They are also restricted from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs. The legal conditions faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar have been widely compared to apartheid by many international academics, analysts and political figures, including Desmond Tutu, a famous South African anti-apartheid activist.

However, what makes this persecution more ugly are: Buddhist monks, who are supposed to follow the “Discourse of the Fruits of Contemplative Life, which Gautama Buddha had set forth some eight centuries ago, among which the abandoning of taking life of all living beings, are in the thick of this butchery; and Aung San Suu Kyi, the nobel peace prize winner and now Myanmar State Counselor, did not lift a single finger to stop the carnage. Her line is that she does not want to anger the military rulers of her country with whom she had just made peace. Only lately and under intense international pressure that she begins to make statements and made a hurried visit to the Rakhine province where the Rohingyas are mainly domiciled.

The situation of the Rohingya people is still deplorable; it is an emergency. The world must take immediate attention and let those guilty people including military men take full responsibility for their crimes. Pressure the ruling military junta to stop the carnage not just by way of diplomatic pressure but also economically. Bring them into the International Court of Justice for war crimes.