Myanmar Police To Arm, Train Non-Muslims In Conflict Area Of Rakhine State


In Myanmar government has decided to arm and train the non Muslim local people in order to enhance the security in the Rakhine State where the ethnic problems between the Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist residents prevail. The move is being treated as to crush the Rohingya Muslims who have been denied any substantial rights within the state and the ethnic persecution of this tiny community is underway.

The government said that on October 9 this year there were attacks by the militant groups on the police posts mainly in Kyiganbyin village in Maungdaw, Kyeedangauk in Rathidaung, and in Buthidaung city ; which killed 9 policemen. The government has thereafter decided to enhance the security in the region. The month of October experienced much bloodshed and the government now seems to be determined to contain the disturbances but the policy which it has adopted will aggravate the situation further.

Rohingya Muslim residents of Myanmar have been treated with neglect by the government since a long time. Now the next move has come to push them to wall. They mainly live in the Rakhine State with their maximum population being located in the city of Maungdaw. About 11 Lakhs Rohingya Muslim live in Myanmar, with population at Bangladesh border, their population in India may be around 9,000. They have also their homes in Bangladesh. They have been denied the civic rights and in Myanmar the government has not taken any serious step to protect them. The Rohingya Muslims are basically Arab merchant’s descendents and have found hard to live with the majority community in Myanmar.

The government believes that 400 strong members of the community have aligned with the militancy and were responsible for the attacks on the police posts but the reality lies somewhere else, decision to train the non Muslim for the purpose of the security has been taken in order to segregate the Rohingya people, as most of them are the non citizens hence are not eligible to be part of the armed training programmes. The Rohingya people fear that such armed training programmes may harm their interests of even survival which has been threatened much in the recent time. They think that they may be crushed further. On the other hand the local residents belonging to Buddhist community think that Rohingyas are invading their lands and are threat to their security. The role of the government should have been to establish the peace by protecting both the communities but it has clear tilt towards the majority Buddhist community. It is clear that the Myanmar government policies towards the Rohingya have not shown the positive orientations not even a single time since the establishment of the state.. The ethnic segregation has been promoted by the government with support from the Buddhist elites and the majority people as they exercise influence on the governance. This situation was increased during the long military rule and was never taken note of. Even the new government of National League for Democracy party has not given any concrete assurance on the status of the Rohingya. Though its main leader Aung San Suu Kyi was herself maltreated by the military government but she is also not much active to resolve the issue of the Rohingya. Although she has invited the United Nations representatives and the diplomats to visit the Rakhine area in order to have a close look on the issue of aid access and rights violations which have been raised by the international community but this is only a way to deflect the focus. The major focus should be to improve the living condition of the Rohingyas people who are even restricted in their movement and are called as Bengali inside the country, in order to differentiate them on the ethnic lines.

Government has raised the issue of Rohingya Solidarity Organization and the relationship of minority community with the militancy. The major contention of the Myanmar’s government is that Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) has become re active and is responsible for the increase in the militancy in the region. The organization was established in 1982 but became inactive, though government says that after the 2012 violent incidents the group is in active form. The reputed International Crisis Group in its report has although stated there are no evidences to support the government contention that for the violent activities the Rohingya Solidarity Organization was responsible.

The condition of the Rohingyas people is quite grim in Myanmar and no effective solution has been offered by the government due to influence of the majority community. This is gross human rights violations for which the international community has criticized the Myanmar’s government but other South Asian and the neighbouring states have not exercised sufficient pressure on the government to redress the basic problems of the Rohingyas Muslims. This ethnic problem is likely to grow when the armed training of the non Muslims is carried on and in the name of protecting the local civilians the persecution of the minorities may be done by the government. The principles of equality have been grossly violated and the citizenship rights issue is uncared. When the governance is done with the objective of the self serving politics and the majority community the violations of equality and human rights will definitely take place. The government needs to look into this aspect with much focus. It should not happen that in the name of the security; minorities lose their existence which is threatened now in Myanmar.

Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Vice Chairman CSSP and Consultant CRIEPS, Kanpur, e mail-[email protected]

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