The fact that the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was front-page news in most of the world’s media last week shows we have a serious problem, right here in our very own backyard. Except for a few media organizations, most have tended to point an accusing finger at the Myanmar Government, especially popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner once touted as the nation’s savior.
What is often forgotten in all the unfolding drama befalling the Rohingyas is the complex historical and cultural background of the crisis. This in no way understates the seriousness of the human rights abuses suffered by the Rohingyas, unwanted by both Myanmar and Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands have sought refuge since the violence began two weeks ago. But like all political conflicts, there is a reason why the issue has now come to the boil, although this does not seem to feature too prominently in much of the reporting. In this issue of AsiaViews, we spotlight two specific commentaries in the hope that of answering some of the outstanding questions.
Featured in the respected Myanmar weekly magazine Irrawady, “The Reality in Rakhine and Myanmar’s Complex Political Conundrum” provides interesting insight into the political complexities that have led to the Rohingya tragedy. Additionally, “Better Understanding Needed of Ma Ba Tha, Urges Think Tank” published in Frontier Myanmar, a relatively new publication but already filled with good reads, explains the history of Myanmar’s extremist Buddhist organization that has helped fuel communal and religious tensions.
Other commentaries focus on major issues besetting countries around the region, such as the arrest of a popular Cambodian opposition leader and the closure of an outspoken newspaper – the Cambodian Daily and North Korea’s threat to test more nuclear weaponry in a display of brinkmanship that has the world on edge.
But it is the Rohingya issue that dominates the news and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. As this issue goes public, the United Nations Security Council has announced its condemnation of the Myanmar military’s violent actions against the Rohingya.