Indications are that leaders in both the adjacent countries have one factor in common: they’ve got caught in a cleft stick.
The world has witnessed numerous “cleansing operations” but rarely has it seen the unabashed capitulation of someone who was honored with the highest accolade and had the support of a wide range of people across regions. Whether it’s a Faustian bargain that Suu Kyi has made with the armed forces or not, it does exhibit the distance some will traverse to retain a grip on power (though in this instance it appears that the robust power maybe more in the grip of the military).
On the other side, the Government of Bangladesh, apparently, was initially more inclined to be swayed by the advice of “security apparatus” (here and there, perhaps) to offer the Myanmar junta its active support to confront the perceived “security threat” but subsequently sensing the overt disposition of the people moved toward a more humanitarian approach; though its purported leaders persisted with outrageous and self-serving declarations without any inkling about the absence of sense or sensibilities they thus demonstrated.
Given this backdrop, indications are that leaders in both the adjacent countries have one factor in common: they’ve got caught in a cleft stick. Certainly a most agonizing situation. Be that as it may. While more than half a million people have been rendered homeless, Suu Kyi, for the moment, is in the worse situation as her quick temper when confronted by a “Muslim” has been known to flare up like a pollen allergy as was displayed when a “Muslim” journalist was sent to interview her some years back.
Meanwhile, as the entire world is aware by now, a humungous tragic humanitarian crisis has developed with hundreds of thousands of Rohingya—mostly women and children—fleeing the marauding Myanmarese hordes who have been murdering, maiming, burning and raping at will with a wink and a nod from the Yangon administration which of course includes the brass under whose aegis previous campaigns to “clean the Rakhine state” had occurred.
Tellingly the UNHCR head reported in Geneva, “I have just returned from Bangladesh, where I witnessed people fleeing unimaginable violence … They had to flee very sudden and cruel violence, and they have fled with nothing. Their needs are enormous – food, health, shelter … They have absolutely nothing. I have hardly seen in my career people that have come with so little. They need everything.”
In addition, British Prime Minister Theresa May in her speech to the UN General Assembly announced that the UK would end all defense engagement and training of the Myanmar military until attacks against civilians in Rakhine state had stopped while in his speech to the Assembly, French President Emmanuel Macron characterized recent actions in Myanmar as ethnic cleansing. Also during the opening of the Assembly, US President Donald Trump called on the Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against the Rohingya. Earlier the UN’s rights chief had described the atrocities in Rakhine as “textbook ethnic cleansing.” These very evidently leave no sliver of doubt about what bloodthirsty events are taking place in that unfortunate part of the world.
In view of these brutal actions there has been a rising international crescendo for stripping Suu Kyi of the Nobel Peace prize, and definitely given her reluctance even to distance herself feebly from the homicidal activities, the demand is more rational than rash. Her behavior is actually an outright shame for all the other Nobel laureates and in the end she cannot evade the responsibility for the deaths and huge losses incurred by the Rohingya people.
In spite of the early dithering of the Bangladesh administration it, like a sloth, ultimately made the moves to provide a safe haven for the “most unfortunate” group of people on Earth. But questions continue to dog the government’s efforts as well as the blathering of ruling party honchos most of whom, firstly, want to curry favor with their leader, and secondly, regurgitate lexis without having any knowledge of the political, social and historical circumstances in Rakhine.
While the carnage, the haggling and the geopolitical jousting continue, the fact to consider and agonize over is this: Like previous tunnel-visioned and myopic armed forces’ actions elsewhere in the world—including in Bangladesh in 1971—the exploits of the Myanmar military are ultimately clearly going to fail in attaining their cherished but vicious goals. Instead, in all likelihood, especially because of the extant circumstances around the world, these acts meant to accomplish the annihilation of an entire people will lead to the radicalization of thousands.
And this consequence cannot augur well for the region, as well as its economic, social and political evolution. That will most certainly create a breeding ground for unwarranted developments and in the final analysis generate huge misfortunes for the peoples of the whole area. Historically it has been proven innumerable times that militaries, wittingly or otherwise, launch onslaughts whose impacts prove to be not only beyond their command but also inflict inhuman torment on innocent people.
This present Burmese adventure isn’t proving to be any different. Sadly.
The writer has been a media professional, in print and online newspapers as editor and commentator, and in public affairs, for over forty-five years.