Suu Kyi: In need of right direction for Myanmar

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Mir Mosharref Hossain Pakbir

MNA Editorial Desk: Throughout the world, we find brutal pictures of communal violence for decades. Wars are going on at different parts of the earth with loads of hatred and ill feelings towards the people representing different communities, religion or ethnicity. The root cause of all wars being fought around the world is caused by either economic interest or communal difference.

In recent times, we have seen Myanmar to get engaged in ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingyas of its Rakhine state. Thousands of innocent men, women and children are being killed; women are getting raped; houses are being burnt and all those are happening due to the religious and ethnic factor.

These Rohingyas who are Muslims by religion are a minority in Myanmar. The Buddhists are targeting these Muslims to torture illogically and inhumanly. Their citizenship was taken away by the government and now they are being wiped off from the country.

More than five hundred thousand Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh for shelter or to be more specific, for life. The UN has termed this disastrous act of Myanmar government as ‘ethnic cleansing’.

In countries like; Iraq, Iran or Saudi Arabia, a major problem lies in the hatred between the Shia and Sunni Muslims. Thousands of lives were lost in this conflict. The region has been divided by religious violence.

***Many other doors are yet to be closed if they do not solve this crisis soon  by taking back, repatriating and properly rehabilitating the Rohingyas who entered its neighbouring country Bangladesh according to the recommendations of the Annan Commission.***

Such conflict is taking place at almost every region of the world. It seems people with different religious or ethnic background does not get along and the majority is oppressing the minority everywhere. Mostly, the Muslims are suffering from these conflicts and the damage is very high in terms of attacks targeted over them.

Bangladesh is a country of almost 170 million with 90.4 per cent Muslims with the Hindus being the second highest in number along with some representation of the Buddhists, Christians and also some from other religions.

During this year Bangladesh has observed several religious festivals of different minority religion like; Buddha Purnima and Durga Puja. This year, more than 5,000 Puja mandaps were build which is the highest in number ever.

Moreover, Ashura was observed by the Shias at the larger scope. All these religious festivals were celebrated without a single incident in the most joyous way. It was vastly noticeable that, communal harmony was in place all around.

In light of the current situation all around the world, it will not be unwise to say that, Bangladesh has demonstrated immense support to the people of different religion. While the neighbours of Bangladesh are being intolerant to the Muslims, people from minority religion and ethnicity are celebrating their religious festivals with more passion in a highly secured environment.

We are currently facing Rohingya crisis as more than 5 lac tortured Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh from Myanmar to take refuge. These Rohingyas faced ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar army and the Buddhist because they were Muslims.

Bangladeshis have extended their full support to these refugees under the leadership of their Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We have seen Myanmar Embassies attacked at several countries but Bangladesh, which is the most affected from this Rohingya crisis did not show any sign of violence or intolerance.

The Buddhist people living in this country were not bothered at all. All the religious and ethnic groups are enjoying such a peaceful environment that Bangladesh seems to the only place in this world which holds the idea of communal harmony in reality.

Myanmar is a country of great prospect with huge mineral resources. It is five times larger than Bangladesh in terms of area with only one-third of Bangladesh’s population. The country was isolated from the whole world for a very long term due to the military regime. But from 2012, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi has opened its doors to the world. But it is failing to grab the opportunity due to its oppression over the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state.

Without communal harmony, it is not possible to move towards development. A country will not be able to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) if internal peace does not sustain. The developed countries and international trade bodies will not take interest to invest in a country where the people are struck by oppression.

Myanmar is spending a lot of its revenues behind purchasing arms from foreign markets instead of investing it into development works and in that process, the country might lose all its prospect and endure the risk of being isolated from the outer world again.

It might embrace the same future as Iraq, Libya, Syria or many other countries which used their assets in non-productive prospects without appropriate direction and now fighting for their existence. Myanmar also might face the similar fate.

All of Myanmar’s neighbouring countries have Muslims as minority except Bangladesh where 90.4 per cent are Muslims and around 10 per cent are other religious minority. Other than that, India has 14.2 per cent Muslims with the largest numbers of Muslims among all the neighbours of Myanmar, Laos has 0.1 per cent Muslims, and Thailand has 5.8 per cent Muslims.

All these neighbouring countries are maintaining communal harmony except some minor incidents in India. Even Myanmar’s greatest supporter China has 1.8 per cent Muslims and they are not being tortured or oppressed. But Myanmar with 2.3 per cent Muslims among its whole population of 51.4 million has failed enormously to ensure freedom of religion or ethnicity rather they are becoming the icon of brutality and inhumanity.

Along with the Rohingyas of Rakhine state, the whole world was looking forward to Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi after she came into power to solve all humanitarian issues. But regretfully those became more intense under her government’s regime. She recently said that, she has got little time to address these issues though she has been part of the parliament from 2012 and became the State Counsellor after landslide victory in 2015.

The Rohingya Muslim crisis has been prevailing from 1940s and she was well aware of it and we differ from her statement that she required more time to take necessary steps to solve this problem.

Here we can mention the tremendous effort of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who successfully solved the

‘Shanti Bahini’ issue at the hill tracts of Bangladesh which were prevailing from 1972 only within one and half year of her regime after she took office as PM of Bangladesh in 1996.

She successfully enacted the peace treaty with the insurgents known as ‘Shanti Bahini’, made them surrender their weapons and properly rehabilitated them. Now, the hill tracts people are participating in every aspect of Bangladesh and they are even enjoying ‘quota’ facility in education or employment which is driving faster development of them. If she can act so fast to solve a violent insurgency, then why Suu Kyi cannot as she needs to only control her own force. The fact is — she might not have placed it in her priority list.

Very recently European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade has postponed the inking of the investment protection agreement (IPA) between the European Union and Myanmar for indefinite period considering the current humanitarian violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

This was a great opportunity for Myanmar and they lost it. Many other doors are yet to be closed if they do not solve this crisis soon by taking back, repatriating and properly rehabilitating the Rohingyas who entered its neighbouring country Bangladesh according to the recommendations of the Annan Commission.

Now the people of Myanmar should step forward to guide their government to a right direction of ensuring communal harmony for their own development and to become one of the developed countries of the world — a prospect they surely have.

The author, Mir Mosharref Hossain Pakbir, is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd. and Director of the Daily Observer. This article was first published in the Daily Observer.