Burma Times: Some of the Burmese citizens have thrown out the call of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of National League for Democracy to avoid the use of word “Rohingya” or “Bengali” to describe the persecuted community.
The Rohingya have said they must be recognized as one Burmese’s (Myanmar) ethnic groups and the government said they are Bengalis from Bangladesh. Ms Suu Kyi said the terms will not help resolve the discrimination against them.
Suu Kyi said, “The reason why I said we have got to be very firm about not using emotive words is because emotive words make it very difficult for us to find a peaceful and sensible resolution of our problems and for this she did not offer an alternative name for the community”.
Rohingya are deeply concerned over the consequence of not being able to use the term as it is the name of their ethnicity.
Wai Wai Nu, a Rohingya and human rights activist for the Rohingya community said, “If we stop using the term ‘Rohingya’ which belongs to our identity, our culture and our traditions, what will you call these people?” “That is why, it’s the most important to call their name and respect their fundamental rights.”
The Rohingya community is worry that they will not be considered citizens and will not enjoy the privileges of being Burmese citizens if the word ‘Rohingya’ is refrained.
On the other hand, the Burmese nationalists said, they will disobey Ms Suu Kyi’s suggestion and will keep on calling the community Bengalis.
Zaw Win, an anti-Rohingya activist said, “I don’t accept using the term ‘Rohingya’. “I will keep on calling them ‘Bengali’. If both of the terms ‘Rohingya’ and ‘Bengali’ are not to be used, the new government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should inform the public which term we should use to address them. We will continue protesting around the country so long as the government doesn’t make an official declaration saying the Rohingya do not belong here.”
An observer said the terming of the community is not only a “Racial Issue”.
“What is their plan, when are they planning to solve this problem? They should tell the people what their plans are, then we will know how the civil societies or how the people can support their plan” Thet Swe Win, the country representative for the Regional Institution for ASEAN Youth Forum said.
“Whatever we call them, Rohingya or Bengali, they have their own right to name themselves and how they want to be called. If they want to be called Rohingya, if they insist on it and if we force them to change to another name, the problem will continue to happen. So that’s not the way to solve the issue. This is not only a racial issue, but also a religious problem.”
The discrimination by the Government supporting the nationalists against the Rohingya has recently risen to target Muslims. One example was when a group of nationalist Buddhist monks chased away a group of Muslim street vendors and prevented them from doing business because they were too close to the renowned Shwedagon Pagoda.
Incidents like this can be continuously seen as a reminder of how divided the society in Burma is and could most likely become.