Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thai Government's Call for Regional Solution to the Rohingya Problem


The news of Thailand's newly-found interest seeking a regional solution to the Rohingya problem is probably one of the best news heard in years. Truly, without a regional solution that aims at removing the causes behind the Rohingya people's flight from the Arakan state of Burma, the mere imagination that a neighboring country like Thailand can afford to be nonchalant one way or another is simply foolish. But that is how the Buddhist Kingdom had behaved all these years.

The Rohingya problem is an old one. The Thai government had all the reliable sources to know quite well about the criminal activities of its Buddhist neighbor to the west and come up with a solution that did not further victimize the fleeing refugees. Instead, it chose to take a wait and see attitude with the fleeing non-Muslim (mostly Buddhist and Christian) refugees. But when it came to the fleeing Muslim refugees from Burma, its attitude can only be described as inhumanly harsh and highly despicable, bordering into crime of highest proportion. For decades, thus, when it came to the Burmese refugee problem, hypocrisy has been the mask of the Thai government. That mask was only recently unmasked when the entire world came to see how inhumanly it had treated those unfortunate boat people - the Rohingyas of Burma - who had tried to enter the Kingdom. If those boat people were Buddhists, we would have been saved from the embarrassment. So, now comes the damage-control activities with the expectation that such face saving promises and new calls would be able to dilute world anger against the criminal activities of its Navy.

As rightly argued by the ARNO chief Mr. Nurul Islam and Ms. Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project it is crucial that the future solution, whatever it be, must include guaranteeing human rights to this unfortunate Rohingya people so that they could live as equals in their ancestral homes. All discriminatory laws and regulations, starting with the statelessness of the Rohingya, must be removed allowing them to have all the rights guaranteed per Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The world community must treat the Rohingya problem as a serious one requiring an immediate solution that would be acceptable to the Rohingya people in the one hand and respected and implemented by the Myanmar regime on the other hand. The savage regime must know the consequences of its failure to carry out such fence-mending measures.

Bottom line: the Rohingya people simply cannot be treated as animals in a cage that go hungry and yet are denied the basic right to search for food. What the savage Myanmar regime had been doing all these years with the Rohingya people is one of the most systemic, calculated and brutal campaigns the world has seen in the last four decades that is aimed at slowly exterminating an entire race, which is different than theirs in tradition, language, culture and religion. And that we, the civilized world, simply cannot allow to happen because it would be a monumental crime that would haunt us and our posterity forever. Let's hope that Thailand's call for finding a regional solution is a genuine one and not a hypocritical one.

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