“Unwanted Anywhere”

source from Irrawaddy, APRIL, 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.

Decades of neglect have turned the plight of the Rohingya into a regional issue, and any failure to address it adequately will only serve to undermine the bloc’s credibility.  

The Rohingya are the second-largest ethnic group living in Arakan State, after the ethnic Rakhine; in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships, in the northern part of the state, they are in the majority. But even though they comprise nearly 30 percent of the state’s population of 2.75 million people, they are often treated as if they don’t exist.

Goodwill Ambassador of the UNHCR Angelina Jolie smiles at Karenni refugee children during a visit to Ban Mai Nai Soi camp in northern Thailand. (Photo: AFP)

Ultra-nationalist campaigns initiated by the Burmese government, often with the support of local Buddhist communities, have long portrayed the Rohingya as interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh and India, arguing that they are just another part of the negative legacy of British colonial rule. 

As part of the effort to drive them out of the state, the Rohingya are routinely subjected to human rights abuses, including forced labor, land confiscation and even restrictions on marriage. They are also frequent targets of extortion and arbitrary taxation.

In 1991, waves of Rohingya refugees fled across Burma’s western border to Bangladesh to escape oppression. About 230,000 of the refugees have since been repatriated under an agreement between Bangladesh and Burma, with the involvement of the UNHCR, while approximately 28,000 remain in two refugee camps in Bangladesh.

As part of the ongoing repatriation program, the Burmese regime has agreed to issue temporary registration cards to returnees. The UNHCR estimates that around 35,000 cards were issued in 2007, with an additional 48,000 issued between January and May of 2008.

But far from providing them with any sort of legal status, the registration cards have often served to reinforce discrimination against the Rohingya.

According to the US government’s 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom, for instance, Burmese authorities insist that Muslim men applying for the cards “must submit photos without beards”—an offensively discriminatory requirement intended to discourage registration.

With no hope of improvement in their situation, many Rohingyas continue to leave Burma, often via Bangladesh. But in their quest for friendlier shores, they often have to pass through Burmese territorial waters, putting them at risk of arrest under Section 13(1) of the 1947 Immigration Law, which prescribes penalties for illegal entry into Burma. 

According to the Arakan Project, many Rohingyas who have been arrested in Burmese waters on their way to Thailand have been sentenced to up to five years in prison for illegally crossing the border. Such prisoners account for the majority of the jail population in northern Arakan State.

Rohingya boat people receive medical treatment at a temporary shelter in Aceh Province after being rescued by local fishermen on February 2. The all-male group of 198, who had not eaten for a week and who included a 13-year-old, was found floating in a wooden boat off the coast of Aceh after 21 days at sea. (Photo: Reuters)

Former inmates of these prisons say that Rohingya prisoners are fed only once every three or four days, and are often subjected to beatings. Little can be done to protect them from such treatment, however, because international agencies such as the UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross currently have no access to jails in Burma.

For those who are pardoned and allowed to return to their home villages, the situation isn’t much better. They often find that their names have been permanently deleted from their household registries, meaning that they are constantly at risk of being arrested again. 

“Since they are no longer administratively listed, many have been forced to flee to Bangladesh again,” according to Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project.

In Bangladesh, life is only marginally less precarious.


The Bangladeshi government divides the Rohingya into two categories: recognized refugees living in official camps and unrecognized refugees living in unofficial sites or among Bangladeshi communities.

The UNHCR provides basic services to around 28,000 registered Rohingya refugees living in the official Nayapara and Kutupalong camps, and Islamic Relief, a UK-based charity, supports a further 10,000 people living in an unofficial camp constructed in 2008.

But for most of the estimated 200,000 undocumented Rohingyas living in Bangladesh today, the only way to survive is by performing backbreaking labor that pays less than a dollar a day.

Now, with the impact of the global economic downturn hitting one of the poorest regions of Asia, many Rohingyas are growing increasingly desperate to find some way to support themselves and their families—forcing many to turn to brokers who, for US $300-450, arrange to smuggle them by boat to countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.

Most set off on this dangerous journey between November and April, when the seas are at their calmest.

Typically, they are given water and rice that has been cooked and dried for their one meal of the day. The traffickers, wary of naval patrol boats, order the migrants to pack into the small hold below deck and remain there; if they try to come out, they are beaten. Only after dark are they allowed up on deck to stretch and shower.

According to Thailand’s House Committee on Security, which has blamed international human traffickers for the recent massive influx of Rohingya boat people, some of those who were apprehended had telephone numbers they used to contact other Rohingyas who have already settled in Thailand and Malaysia.

This prompted Thai police to round up roadside roti vendors in Bangkok and cities in the predominantly Muslim south. Thai security officials say that many of the trafficked Rohingya sell rotis as a temporary job until they are ready for their departure to Malaysia.

Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have all focused their efforts on cracking down on trafficking gangs, insisting that the Rohingya boat people are victims of unscrupulous criminals exploiting their economic desperation and not refugees fleeing persecution.

One problem with this approach is that it isn’t likely to end the exodus anytime soon. Observers say that endemic corruption in all of the countries affected by this issue  makes it impossible to stem the flow of people seeking a better life, especially when they have highly organized and well-financed brokers helping them.

In northern Arakan State, the border security forces readily turn a blind eye to human trafficking in exchange for bribes. Bangladeshi law enforcement agents also cooperate for a cut of the brokers’ profits. And for the right price, immigration officials in Thailand and Malaysia hand Rohingyas over to traffickers instead of deporting them across the border.

Meanwhile, Asean foreign ministers will have another opportunity to tackle the problem at the Bali Process meeting on April 14-15. The Bali Process brings together more than 50 countries and international agencies, including the International Organization for Migration and the UNHCR, for talks to discuss practical measures to help combat human trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beyond this, Asean may be counting on the precedent of the Cyclone Nargis relief effort to open up the possibility of greater cooperation between the Burmese junta and the international community on the Rohingya issue.

In March, Burma’s neighbors were given some reason to hope for the best.

After months of dragging its feet over the future of the UNHCR’s mandate to operate in northern Arakan State, the regime finally gave the UN refugee agency a green light to stay. In an echo of the junta’s post-Nargis reversal on allowing aid into the Irrawaddy delta following a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last May, the decision was made only after a high-profile visit to Burma by Antonio Guterres, the head of the UNHCR.

But convincing the generals to accept hundreds of millions of dollars to help restore Burma’s agricultural heartland is one thing; persuading them to end a pattern of abuses against an ethnic minority with few friends anywhere in the region is another.

Unlike the situation in the Irrawaddy delta, the humanitarian crisis emanating from northern Arakan State is almost entirely of the regime’s making. Until Burma’s neighbors finally begin to address this fact, they can continue to expect more unwelcome visitors on their shores.


The Row over the Rohingya

Irrawaddy readers weigh in on a contentious issue

IN February, The Irrawaddy launched a new online feature, enabling users of our Web site www.irrawaddy.org to post comments on stories of particular interest to them. One subject has attracted far more attention than any other: the status of the Rohingya in Burma. Every news item and commentary on this topic elicited numerous responses; taken together, they give a sense of the range of opinions on this issue.

Some readers based their arguments on historical evidence, while others emphasized human rights considerations. But judging from the bulk of the comments we received, it was clear that race, religion and ethnicity were the major factors animating the debate over whether the Rohingya “belong” in Burma.

Few readers stooped to the blatant racism of the Burmese consul in Hong Kong, who infamously described the Rohingya as ugly, dark-skinned “ogres.” Some, however, evidently viewed the matter chiefly through the lens of race.

“A thorough DNA testing would reveal that these [people] belong to Bangladesh rather than Burma,” wrote one such reader, San Oo Aung.

For many other readers, the Islamic faith of the Rohingya was more of an issue than their genetic makeup. Although some, like Tin Win, recalled “ancient days when Muslims and Buddhists stayed together side by side in harmony,” many others painted a much darker picture of relations between followers of the two religions.

“For once, the regime is right,” wrote Pasquale. “The Rohingya are not Burmese. They are the fifth column for the Islamization of the land of Dhamma.”

“Be careful, Shwedagon Pagoda will disappear very soon,” echoed Mr True, who also accused The Irrawaddy and other exiled media of being “worse that the SPDC” for their supposed bias in favor of the Rohingya.

Just as controversial as the subject of race and religion was the issue of ethnicity. Many readers followed the junta’s practice of labeling the Rohingya “Bengalis.” Indeed, many voiced strong support for the regime’s refusal to recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group.

“I dislike the junta, but I support it for [its position on the] Rohingya,” wrote Maung Myanmar, in response to a report on our Burmese-language Web site.

Such views (which were also common on the English version of The Irrawaddy) provoked a number of international readers to express concern about the attitudes of some Burmese who profess to espouse democratic principles.

“Aren’t we fighting so that human rights will be protected for everyone?” asked Pokpong Lawansiri, who identified himself as “a Thai advocate working for a Burmese cause.”

Hong Kong-based Luzhou similarly asked: “Do we not believe in justice, equality, non-discrimination? Do we not observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

“Even when the democracy struggle has come to a victory, and democratic government is established, without the right attitude, there will be no answer to the problem,” he added.

Several Burmese readers expressed sympathy for the Rohingya as fellow victims of military rule, but in some cases added that too much emphasis had been placed on their plight because of their religion and ethnicity. “Please do not forget the fact that the military government kills even Buddhist monks,” wrote Than Aung.

“Rohingyas deserve humanitarian aid as much as any other refugees. Focus should be on that and not on which ethnicity they belong to,” wrote Khin, who cautioned against “carelessly” accepting the claims of the Rohingya “out of sympathy.”

The most hotly disputed claims were those relating to the historical presence of the Rohingya in Arakan State. Historian Aye Chan was representative of those who strongly denied that the Rohingya have long had a place in the history of the once-independent kingdom of Arakan.

“It is obvious that the term ‘Rohingya’ was created in the 1950s by the educated Chittagonian descendants from the Mayu Frontier area (present day Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts) and that it cannot be found in any historical source materials in any language till then,” he wrote.

As some readers pointed out, however, not all historians agree with this view.

“Dr Than Tun wrote that the Muslim title used [by] Arakan kings mentioned in the stone pillar of 1422 might be Rohingyas from the Mayu valley of the eastern Naf river and the western Kaladan river who have claimed their existence there for over 1,000 years,” wrote Maungmaung, referring to the findings of a well-known Burmese historian.

Notwithstanding the role of The Irrawaddy’s online comments section and other Internet-based forums, some readers complained that the real problem dogging this issue is the lack of open discussion.


Ahmedur Rahman Farooq wrote that “the Burmese pro-democracy government-in-exile was formally approached by the Rohingyas to arrange a debate over the issue under the supervision of international historians, but they have no guts to arrange such a debate because they know very well that such an initiative will permanently close all the doors for anti-Rohingya camps inside the pro-democracy movement.”


Burma’s Gaza?

Citizenship and land rights are hot issues in Arakan State

MAUNGDAW, Arakan State—In a simple house on the edge of this small town near Burma’s border with Bangladesh, a Rohingya resident carefully adjusted his cheap Chinese-made radio. Six other Rohingyas also huddled around the radio, straining to hear its crackling broadcast.

“Here we go,” said 52-year-old Ahmed triumphantly. “It’s VOA reporting on what the international community is saying about the Rohingya issue. Listen carefully.”

A small convenience store in Maungdaw. (Photo: Min Khet Maung/The Irrawaddy)

Ahmed said he and his friends tune in nightly to Western broadcasts in the hope of hearing news about efforts by the international community and humanitarian agencies to pressure Burma’s military government to improve their living conditions.

In a teashop near Ahmed’s home, a small group of ethnic Rakhine people discussed the same issue—but from a different viewpoint. They were united in opposing any move to grant citizenship to the Rohingya people of Arakan State.

One man in his late thirties claimed the state and its majority Buddhist population would fall under the influence of Muslim Rohingyas if they became Burmese citizens. “They [Rohingyas] are like a virus,” he said.

Another man, in his early fifties, agreed. “Let’s hope the government doesn’t pay attention to international pressure,” he said. “The Rohingya are not among the 150 ethnic groups of Myanmar [Burma].”

His claim, supported by most Rakhine people and reflected in regime policy, is disputed by many scholars and historians, who trace the arrival of the Rohingyas in the Arakan region back to the eighth century.

Ethnologists say the Rohingya—far from being a homeless migrant people—are a distinct ethnic group derived from a bewildering ancestral mix of Arabs, Moors, Persians, Turks, Mughals, Pathans, Bengalis, Chakmas, Rakhine, Dutch and Portuguese.

For centuries, Muslim Rohingyas and the Buddhist Rakhine people of the Arakan region lived in harmony. They enjoyed the same rights, guaranteed by the 1947 constitution and the 1948 Citizenship Acts.

A Rohingya boy carries items to a local village near Maungdaw. (Photo: Min Khet Maung/The Irrawaddy)

Rohingyas were able to participate fully in post-colonial political life. They could vote and stand for public office in local and national elections, and they were granted Burmese passports and complete freedom of employment.

The 1962 military coup that brought Ne Win to power ended all that. Anti-Rohingya sentiments were allowed to fester. Race riots disrupted life in Arakan State.

“The Rakhine-Rohingya relationship was poisoned by the military junta,” said one moderate Rakhine historian in Maungdaw.

Denied protection by the Ne Win government and the current military regime, Rohingyas have been mercilessly exploited by many Rakhines, who are accused of treating the Muslim minority as a cheap workforce. The fiction that these dark-skinned people were illegal Bengali immigrants has been allowed to spread without much contradiction.

Discrimination against the Rohingya now permeates all levels of society in Arakan State, from local government departments to community life.

“The military government is systematically encouraging ‘divide and rule’ in our state,” said the Rakhine historian. “It can then exploit the instability it causes in order to rein in the people.”

Observers say the policy has inevitably fuelled racial tensions, leading to clashes between Rakhine residents and resentful Rohingyas.

Fear is said to reign not only in Rakhine towns and villages but also areas with Rohingya majorities—including Maungdaw Township, where more than 90 percent of the 493,000 inhabitants are Rohingya.

One other township in Arakan State has a large Rohingya majority—Buthidaung, where more than 80 percent of the 279,000 inhabitants are Rohingya. 

Building on Rakhine prejudice and exploiting social tensions, the current military regime has progressively tightened restrictions on the Rohingya, denying them not only citizenship but also the most basic rights.

Freedom to travel is severely curtailed, and permission has to be sought from local immigration departments for journeys even within Arakan State. Permits are issued for a maximum of 14 days.

A main street in Maungdaw. (Photo: Min Khet Maung/The Irrawaddy)

The travel restrictions make life difficult for the Rohingya on many levels, including education. The university in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, has no faculties for medicine or engineering, meaning that young people wanting to study those subjects must enroll at universities in Rangoon. But that option is denied Rohingya students, who have difficulty enough trying to cope with the discriminatory practices and bureaucracy of Sittwe University.

Some restrictions are patently racist—one, for instance, requires Rohingya couples to sign an agreement that they will have no more than three children when seeking official approval to marry.

Many Rohingyas hope the general election planned for 2010 could bring about a relaxation of restrictions or even an end to them.

For one young Rohingya, who graduated from university two years ago, citizenship is the most important right he would like to see restored. “If democracy is restored, then we must be given the chance to ask for citizenship,” he said.

Yet the Rakhine historian warned that social tensions could increase if the Rohingya are granted citizenship and land ownership rights.

“If the government does not solve the problem wisely,” he said, “ this could be a hot spot of the future—another Gaza.”

Plain Speaking

The Irrawaddy’s correspondent asked Rohingya and Rakhine residents of Maungdaw, in Arakan State, and a Burmese computer expert in Rangoon for their views on the Rohingya issue. All three interview subjects are 27 years old, and while they clearly don’t represent Rohingya, Rakhine and Burmese populations as a whole, their comments offer some idea of popular thinking in Burma

A young Rohingya man who helps out in his parents’ business was asked to describe his life in Arakan State.

I feel we’re confined in a box. I feel we’re treated as sub-human. I feel we suffer the worst human rights violations compared with our brethren [Burmese citizens] in other parts of the country who are experiencing the policies of this government. We all bear the brunt of this dictatorship. But I don’t know why other ethnic groups do not sympathize with us. This is the saddest thing.

Q: Why do you think this government does not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group?

A: I don’t know exactly why. But we do know that this government uses a divide-and-rule system in our state so they can rule easily. I also think the government fears our work potential and expansion strategy. As you know, we Rohingya are very hardworking, and our population could swell in a short time. I guess that in order to prevent our expansion and influence, the junta denies us our human rights, and removed our citizenship. Our fellow ethnic Rakhine people also think we’re hostile and aggressive. It may be true, sometimes. But it would be because of their discrimination and restrictions.

Q: What keeps you here?

A: Hope! Hope that one day we will get citizenship. I hope that at least in the near future, some restrictions will be lifted, easing our daily life, and improving our livelihoods.

Q: What do you expect from the 2010 election?

A: Democracy that guarantees our human rights. But only real democracy could make our dreams come true. If the government doesn’t want to give us citizenship, we will automatically understand that the democracy it restores is just half-baked democracy. The other half needs to be baked by ourselves. I don’t know, at least for now, how to bake that half. Taking arms or taking to the streets? Or what else?

A Rakhine employee of a Maungdaw engineering company was asked to define the Rohingya.

A: We don’t consider them as one of the ethnic groups of Myanmar [Burma]. They sometimes create problems against our Rakhine people without realizing that they’re living on our land. They’re also trying to occupy our lands, and also threatening our religion. We can’t allow them to do that. I personally see them as destructive to our state. They would certainly threaten all Burma. But we’re human. We have sympathy with anyone as long as they don’t harm our self-regard.

Q: How would you describe your “fear factor” in living alongside Rohingyas if they regain citizenship?

A: Don’t say our fear factor. We don’t fear them. What we worry about is the safety and security of our people in such Muslim populated townships as Buthidaung and Maungdaw. We have to take their safety into account. Our people there are only a minority and are vulnerable. If Muslims have citizenship and there is no law enforcement in our state, who will guarantee the safety and security of our ethnic group? If the Rohingya get citizenship, they will not stop there—believe me. They will demand a “special region.” We can’t give them Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships as a special region. Should the Rakhine be allowed to establish special regions where they live? Who would allow that? Tens of thousands of Burmese migrants are working in Thailand, but do you think the Thai government would grant them a “special region?”

Q: What do you think about stationing the Burmese army in Arakan State?

A: I think it’s good for us. It is thought that the army is here to guard us against hostile and aggressive actions by the Bengali immigrants. But don’t think we gladly accept soldiers on our land. I sometimes think about what my grandfather once said to us: our Rakhine [Arakan] State was once very peaceful before the army staged its coup [in 1962]. There were not many soldiers in those times.

But, after the coup, more and more soldiers were stationed here, and many problems arose between Muslims and Rakhines. My grandfather blamed the army. He said the government drove a wedge between us in order to rule more easily over us. I don’t know whether that’s correct or not. But, what I see with my own eyes is that our Rakhine State is not as developed as other states of Myanmar. We have very poor transportation and communication infrastructure. But, for the present, we have to have a military presence on our land, however inconvenient. 

Q: What do you expect from the 2010 election?

A: A government that will protect us from any invasion or expansion of illegal, hostile migrants. It’s very important to us. We’re worried that the next government will give citizenship to the Muslim people, without trying to keep law and order in our area. But, I’m one of those who support any government that undertakes humanitarian tasks that have to be tackled immediately.

A Burmese computer expert living in Rangoon was asked to comment on the Rohingya issue.

We cannot see this issue only from the humanitarian angle. I think it’s based on politics. Only after the military took power in the [1962] coup were there tensions and riots involving these two ethnic groups [Rakhine and Rohingya]. I think there were motives behind the government’s claim that the Rohingya are not an ethnic group. The government withdrew citizenship for the Rohingya in order to create problems within the state, which would help to shift the attention of fanatic Rakhine nationalists to concentrate on the Rohingya. As you know, the Rakhine people are famous for their nationalism. They love their ethnicity, their land, their culture so much more strongly than we love our own. The junta seems to abuse that. As a Burmese, one of the victims suffering under the iron heel of the military junta, I like to say we should be united. Our common enemy should not be Rohingya, nor any other ethnic group. Our one common enemy is the military government.

Q: What can be done to reconcile Rakhine and Rohingya?

A: I think the 2007 September protests helped to some extent to achieve reconciliation between Rakhine and Rohingya. I was in Sittwe at the time. The hair on my arms stood up when I saw four or five Muslims walking ahead of the monks. Their presence meant they would guard the monks who were marching for the sake of all people living in the country. That sent a message to me that when it comes to national interests and national causes, Rakhine and Rohingya are friends. We should not forget the momentum of the September protests.  At the same time, we should be fully aware of the junta’s divide-and-rule policy.

Q: Do you think it’s worrisome if the Rohingya people acquire citizenship?

A: No, absolutely not. I believe they would be good citizens. They would work very hard to develop their area and catch up with developed townships in other parts of the country. We should wait and see how the government solves this issue. If it sorts it out wisely, there will be no problem. The government should not pass the issue as it is into the hands of the next civilian government. This problem has been created by the present government, so it must solve it. The problem should not be a legacy for future generations.

Q: Do you believe a post-2010 government will respect the human rights of all ethnic groups?

A: I dare not hope so, because I don’t know how honest and humane the next government will be. This Rohingya issue would be the best example, I think, to understand how the next government will behave in other cases.

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  • Naing  On May 4, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I am agreed on the above mention but dis agreed on Ms.Angelina’s saying Rohingya migrants, while she using refugee wordto others.

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