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Q&A: “The U.N. Is Too Slow to Respond to Crisis” ‎
Tuesday | 11/06/2013 - 10:06 AM

Rohingya News Agency-(IPS):‎ UNITED NATIONS - As the situation in Myanmar deteriorates, thousands of Rohingyas have fled the ‎country in search of a safe haven. ‎

Reports continue to emerge depicting inhuman and squalid conditions in the temporary camps where ‎these displaced people live. ‎

Local officials in the Rakhine state of Myanmar recently called for the strict implementation of a “two-‎child policy” on Rohingya Muslims. Even though this announcement has been condemned by human ‎rights groups around the world, the crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is far from over. ‎

In an interview with IPS correspondent Sudeshna Chowdhury, Dr. Wakar Uddin, director general of of ‎the Arakan Rohingya Union, a non-governmental organisation incorporated in the United States, ‎urged the international community to stand up for the Rohingyas of Myanmar, also known as Burma. ‎

While the international community has taken note of the sectarian violence against the community, “it ‎is not enough,” Uddin said. ‎

Critics of the United Nations often cite examples from history when the world body failed to prevent ‎such tragedies, such as the Rwanda genocide and more recently, the death of civilians in Sri Lanka. ‎

‎“How many Rohingyas have to die for the international community to respond to the ongoing crisis?” ‎asks Uddin. ‎

Excerpts from the interview follow: ‎

Q: What are the larger implications of a two-child policy on the Rohingya Muslim population? ‎

A: This two-child policy is a tool employed to reduce as well as control the population of Rohingya ‎Muslims. It is an ethnic cleansing policy filled with hate. The policy is specifically for Rohingya ‎Muslims who are unwanted and hated by the government as well as some extremist Buddhist ‎elements. Some experts would say that it is also a genocide policy. ‎

The population of Rohingyas in Myanmar has grown like the population of any other ethnic group in ‎any part of the world. It is about three million now. ‎

In fact, this two-child policy was there in Myanmar since 1994. However, it lacked serious ‎enforcement. But surgical and forced operations were prevalent in remote pockets of the country. This ‎is why it wasn’t reported widely. But now local authorities are actually stepping up the implementation ‎of the directive. ‎

The authorities are trying to eliminate the population by driving them out of the country as well as ‎putting a cap on the birth of Rohingyas. So they are controlling the population growth in both ways. ‎Eventually, there will be no Rohingyas left in the region and then one can easily grab all their land. ‎

Q: So, this is not just about sectarian violence? ‎

A: A significant amount of land in the Rakhine state, also known as Arakan state of Myanmar, is ‎owned by Rohingyas. Areas within this region are rich in hydrocarbons, natural gas and other ‎resources. So, the goal is to grab these lands that belong to the Rohingyas. ‎

The extremist elements are trying to drive Rohingya people out of the country by making false claims. ‎They are saying that the Rohingyas had illegally infiltrated the Arakan State of Myanmar, and that they ‎actually belong to Bangladesh and to the state of West Bengal in India. ‎

But what is important to understand is the fact that the Rohingya history in the country of Myanmar ‎dates back many centuries. ‎

Q: Is the violence spreading to other parts of the country as well? ‎

A: The Burmans are the majority ethnic group in Burma. Therefore, what we are seeing is the ‎‎“Burmanisation” of the country. ‎

The aim is to eliminate other minority groups in Myanmar. In places like the Kachin state, people are ‎now asking for autonomy. To begin with, violence was mainly directed against the Rohingya Muslims. ‎But now you see Muslims, who are not even Rohingyas, being targeted by the ruling class. Slowly ‎Hindus and Christians, too, won’t be spared as the violence escalates in the rest of the country. ‎

Q: What is the current situation of those who are displaced? ‎

A: The most vulnerable are the women and children. From lack of medicines to malnutrition to squalid ‎conditions - you name it. Monsoons are coming so the situation is going to deteriorate further. The ‎internally displaced persons (IDPs) are therefore at a huge risk. ‎

What is most disturbing is the emergence of sex slave camps where Rohingya women are raped and ‎used as “sex slaves” by Burmese forces. These women have nowhere to go. The authorities provide ‎them with food and shelter. In return they exploit them. ‎

While incidences of rape do get reported in the media once in a while, there is no systematic data ‎collection or records that can give us an estimate of how many women have been raped. ‎

Q: How are the neighbouring countries and the international community dealing with this ‎situation? ‎

A: Some of these Rohingya Muslims took shelter in neighbouring countries, such as India, Thailand ‎and Bangladesh. But we are talking about three million people here. Absorbing them will not solve the ‎Rohingya issue. The root cause of the problem needs to be addressed here. One has to give them ‎their rights. Proper education and jobs will help solve this crisis. ‎

As far as the role of international community is concerned, it is only now that people outside Burma ‎are paying some attention to the plight of the Rohingyas. ‎

As members of the Rohingya diaspora, we have to continuously work towards keeping the discussion ‎alive, and keep reminding people that the Rohingyas are suffering and a permanent solution is ‎important to solve the crisis. ‎

But the international community, like the United Nations, is very slow in responding to such ‎emergencies. Moreover, it is too bureaucratic in nature. Historically, the international community has ‎been very slow in its response when it comes to intervention during such situations. ‎

So, those capable of intervening wait until a certain number of people die. Before that they do not take ‎action. ‎

Also one must understand that until very recently Burma was a closed country. International media did ‎not have much access to the region. It was only after the mass killings last year that the international ‎community, including the media, took notice of the Rohingya crisis.‎

Comments published does not reflect the opinion of the agency, but reflect the opinion of their owners

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