Burma Times Special Report: January 18, 2015
British parliamentarian Jonathan Ashworth pointed out a disturbing trend when he introduced the issue of Rohingya Muslim sufferings at the floor of the British parliament. Ashworth said among other things that campaign groups had told him that in an attempt to appease their Burmese counterparts, British diplomats often avoid using the term ‘Rohingya’.
In all fairness it should be pointed out that Ashworth also said that he was not totally sure of this development but he was concerned at the current Foreign Secretary’s avoidance of the term. This was a result of the Burmese government putting pressure on foreign diplomats to stop using the word.
However, if this is indeed the case as the well informed MP is suggesting, then it is a cause of alarm for the desperate Rohingya community. Britain, along with European countries are one of the closest backers of this desperate people. It was the EU which after all drafted the landmark UN General Assembly resolution that called on the Burmese government to assure equal treatment of the Rohingyas. The resolution also urged the government to recognise the term Rohingya.
But if behind closed doors, Britain is avoiding the term Rohingya, there is a chance that some other western countries also succumb to this trend. In that case, there is a marked difference between public attitudes and what goes on behind closed doors. Indeed the response of Hugo Swire, the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been criticised by rights groups for defending the Burmese regime and prioritising trade relations with the country at the expense of human rights.
Suppose Ashworth and the rights groups are right in their analysis, the future is grim for the Rohingyas. The regime and its cohorts pursue a policy of slow burning genocide against the Rohingyas. This basically translates into gradual ethnic cleansing, interrupted by large scale massacres as took place in 2012. Slow burning genocide is devised for the purpose of escaping international attention. If countries like Britain prioritise commerce over human rights, then there is a good chance that the regime will succeed in its ultimate aim of clearing the Arakan of Rohingyas.