Rohingya Muslim crisis: What people in Burma are saying about it

Rohingya Muslim crisis: What people in Burma are saying about it   

Despite widespread international condemnation, the country’s leaders appear to maintain support in their home country
Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith Tuesday 10 October 2017 11:51 BST                                                                    
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Burma’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims has lead to widespread condemnation from the international community, with the United Nations (UN) calling their treatment “textbook ethnic cleansing”.

But although over 500,000 have fled violence in the south east Asian nation’s Rakhine state to seek refuge in Bangladesh in recent months, inside the country, the government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, appears to maintain widespread support.In its largest city Yangon, the term Rohingya is reportedly not used and they are instead called “Bengali Muslims,” a term which is also used by local media.

Bangladesh vows to support one million Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma

While the Rohingya have lived as one of the ethnic minorities in the country for generations but are not recognised as Burmese citizens in the Buddhist majority country.

“The problem is the political motive behind the term [Rohingya],” U Aung Hla Tun, vice chairman of the Myanmar Press Council, told  the BBC. “I used to have a number of Bengali friends when I was young. They never claimed they were Rohingya. They first coined the term decades ago. “They do not belong to the ethnic minorities [of this country]. This is a fact.”

Another university student told the broadcaster that the international community is getting the “wrong” information about the situation in Rakhine state.  They claimed that “the violence is an act of terrorism”.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are now living in camps in Bangladesh.

They started to flee after an attack carried out by Rohingya insurgents in August on police posts and security personnel in Rakhine state saw the military retaliate with violence that left thousands of homes burned to the ground and hundreds dead.

The UN’s human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has said Burma’s actions against the Rohingya people “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Suu Kyi’s first public address on the Rohingya crisis last month saw hundreds of supporters gather in Yangon to hear the speech which saw her claim that more than half of Rohingya villages had not been affected by the violence. She also invited diplomats to visit the areas and see “why they are not at each other’s throats in these particular areas”.

Rights group Amnesty International subsequently accused Ms Suu Kyi and her government of “burying their heads in the sand” and of telling “uthruths” following the leader’s response to the crisis.  But she was nonetheless widely supported by those in the crowd.

One woman in the crowd called May Nyi Oo, who wore stickers depicting Ms Suu Kyi’s image on her cheeks, told The Guardian that “worldwide, a lot of fake news and rumours are spreading”. She also referred to the Rohingya as illegal immigrants who “are not our people”.

Many people in Burma have appeared reluctant to talk about the Rohingya crisis, but continue to support Ms Suu Kyi’s decisions about the issue. Thet Mhoo Ko Ko, who works in his family’s business, told Al Jazeera last month that he believes Ms Suu Kyi needs more time “and then she will be able to make things much better”.

“The Rakhine [situation] is a problem and it is very worrying,” he added. A survey carried out in September by the Myanmar Survey Research company also found that 75 per cent of people believed the country is heading in the right direction, Al Jazeera reported.

Rohingya refugees – in pictures  

Rohingya Muslim refugees arrive on a boat in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh after crossing from Burma on 8 September 2017. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 

Rohingya Muslim refugees react after being re-united with each other after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh on a boat from Burma Getty 

Rohingya Muslim refugees walk along the remains of a road after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh on a boat from Burma. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Muslim refugees wade through water after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh by boat from Burma. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rohingya Muslim refugees wade through water after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh by boat from Myanmar. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rohingya Muslim refugees stand in the rain after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh by boat from Burma. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A young Rohingya refugee gathers firewood after arriving in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh from BurmaDan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rohingya refugees wait for sacks of rice to be distributed in Whaikhyang, Bangladesh. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Indonesian Muslim activists hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the alleged persecution of the Rohingya minority in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. EPA- Ali Lutfi

Members of an Islamic organisation shout slogans against the Burma government during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh. EPA/Abir Abdullah

Tags : Rohingya crisis,  Rohingya Muslims,  Burma,  UN,  Aung San Suu Kyi,

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Posted in International, Media, Myanmar, Publication, Report, Rohingya

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