Burma Times Correspondent: August 28, 2015
The aid given by the government of Bangladesh for flood victims in Myanmar has become a sensitive subject for the government which is increasingly relying on a Buddhist nationalist network to entrench their rule.
Speaking by phone, Rohingyas working closely with the government said there was much distrust the moment Bangladesh government announced an aid package for the country. In most times, aid for flood victims is welcome. But many in the government suspected the Bangladeshis were keen on aiding the Muslims in Arakan state that shares a common border from where relief materials could have been rushed in.
The suspicions became even more profound when the Bangladesh government said it was ready to transport the aid over the border. The government quickly refused the offer saying it would only be ready to accept the relief from Yangon and Mandalay, which is very far from the Bangladesh border, taking an airlift of more than an hour.
Places in the Arakan state such as Maungdaw where the floods have taken a harsh toll are less than an hour’s drive from the Bangladesh border. But authorities and nationalists fear the Bangladesh relief efforts will aid the Muslims. These would have been a sore point for especially the nationalists who are wary of perceived Muslim influence in the Buddhist majority nation.
While publicly, the government praised Bangladesh efforts to aid the people of Myanmanar, in private there is much derision about the country and their Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina for trying to aid the Muslims through this supposedly friendly gesture of aid delivery.
Rohingyas in Arakan state say the government response of ignoring flood affected Muslims have worsened an already desperate humanitarian situation and is part of the long term approach to expel them from the country.
The government has also shunned requests for a Bangladeshi medical team fearing they will face harsh treatment in a society where anti Muslim sentiments are on the rise.