Burma Times Special Report: May 23, 2015
In face of mounting international pressure, the Burmese navy made their first rescue of migrants on Friday or so the local media tells us. In previous cases, desperate migrants welcomed rescue operations by other South East Asian nations. Not this time. After all migrants embarked on this desperate journey to escape these ‘rescuers’.
Following the rescue mission, the Burmese government made a statement that surprised no one. All the 208 people on board are Bangladeshis, and the government of that country should take them back.
The regime has always claimed that there is no thing such as Rohingya. In their world, the community of approximately 2 million people originating from Arakan state does not exist. They are part of Bangladesh.
There is no doubt that many of the migrants are poor Bangladeshis, duped by human traffickers into believing that a new life awaits them in Malaysia. But the root cause of the crisis is the genocide directed against the Rohingya Muslims who would go to desperate means to escape the hellhole of Arakan.
After decades of an ethnic pogrom best described as slow burning genocide, these desperate people known to the world as Rohingyas devised a desperate mean to escape Burma. As the whole world knows now, escaping the country by small rickety boats are supervised by nefarious human traffickers who kill, torture and rape their passengers. Yet for the Rohingya Muslims, anything seems to be better than staying in Burma.
Claiming that Rohingyas are Bangladeshis is one of the foundations of government policy vis-à-vis this ethnic group. Even with international attention focused on the plight of this persecuted community, Burma is determined to identify them as Bangladeshis and refusing to accept them.
In the days to come, Burmese government will continue making extraordinary claims that the migrants are Bangladeshis. Burma threatened to boycott the May 29 discussions on human trafficking if the word Rohingya is used.
Unfortunately many Burmese Buddhists poisoned by the propaganda of nationalist forces have jumped in the bandwagon. Much of Burma believes that the 208 migrants found in the boats off the coast are Bangladeshis. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Meanwhile the Burmese government shall try to make the most out of this tragedy to achieve their goals – -drive the Rohingya Muslims out of this country gradually.