What’s going on with the Rohingyas? Why are some thousands of them stranded in boats in the Andaman sea? What’s the deal?
The Rohingyas – a distinct Muslim ethnic group who are effectively stateless – have been fleeing Myanmar for decades. But a combination of factors means that they are now stranded in rickety boats in the Andaman sea, causing international alarm.
There are believed to be several thousand Myanmar migrants in boats off the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia with dwindling supplies of food and water, and not wanted by any of these countries.
Wait. Back up a step. What does that even mean? What does “a distinct Muslim ethnic group” mean? What does “distinct” mean? What does “ethnic” mean?
Those look like pretend-dumb questions, probably, but I’m really not clear about what that’s supposed to mean, or on what the BBC thinks it means, and it seems to matter since the “distinct ethnic” (along with the Muslim) is why they’re stranded in those boats, it appears. So why do people use words like “distinct” and “ethnic” with such seeming confidence that they have a firm crisp meaning and that they explain something?
Successive Myanmar governments have been introducing policies to repress the Rohingya since the 1960s, according to Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (Brouk). They argue that Rohingyas are not a genuine ethnic group but Bengali migrants who represent a divisive leftover from colonial times.
See what I mean? What’s the difference between those two things? What’s a “genuine ethnic group”? What makes Bengali migrants not a “genuine ethnic group”? Why are they “divisive”? Why is any of that a reason to repress them?
Is the BBC using “ethnic” as a code for “religious”? Is all this waffle just because they don’t want to say the majority in Burma is Buddhist so Muslims are seen as “distinct” and “divisive”? Fun fact: the word “Buddhist” doesn’t appear in the article. An explanatory background piece that carefully omits an important fact. What’s that about?
They are denied basic services and their movements are severely restricted. The repression of the Rohingyas has gradually intensified since the process of reforms introduced by President Thein Sein in 2011, Brouk says. In June and October 2012 there were large scale attacks on Rohingyas in Rakhine State.
In addition, the government in March revoked white cards – or “temporary registration certificates” – that had been issued to hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas. This meant that they no longer have the right to vote in upcoming elections in November.
Next stop: genocide.
So inflammatory is the Rohingya issue that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for failing to raise it.
In the past three years, more than 120,000 Rohingyas have boarded ships to flee abroad, according to the UN refugee agency.
But abroad doesn’t want them either.
They would like to go to Malaysia or Indonesia, which are majority-Muslim and in need of labor. Solution! Except that Malaysia and Indonesia don’t want them, and won’t let them land. Neither will anyone else.
What was that about the Ummah again?