By Prof. Abdelkader Zerougui
Thein Tun Aye , a Buddhist radical and co-founder of the Wan-Lark Rural Development Foundation accused the President of caving in to international pressure, and called Thein Stein’s administration of “divide and rule.” Thein Tun Aye and considers the Rohingya "intruders" and expressed his distrust to any future peaceful resolution to the this minority, and sees their transfer to another country, the only feasible solution to the conflict. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged the 10-member group, which includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, to search for avenues to quell the violence in Myanmar and become more involved in the providing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya. The secretary-general warned against the radicalization of the Rohingya minority, as its plight is continuously ignored by the Burmese government.
The European Union, the United States, Turkey and representatives of international organizations have been trying to bring about change in the government's attitude to addressing the Rohingya question. The UN, Japan, and Western countries have rushed to lift the sanctions against Myanmar hoping that such gesture will give the Burmese leadership the possibility to convince the populace that peaceful resolution to the ethnic and religious strife is in the interest of the country. Such approach is better perceived than the ill-advised Organization of Islamic Conference’s proposals, which can be perceived as partial, and religiously motivated, which most probably alienate the Myanmar government and the Buddhist population. Myanmar needs to take courageous steps towards the establishment of the rule of law, and move on to integrate with the world economy. The ruling elite must espouse the new world order that calls for greater integration and respect of human rights. Authoritarian states can no longer continue to exist, and international law cannot tolerate genocide and the cleansing of defenseless minorities. The international community must send a clear message through the ASEAN that the Rohingya must be protected as equal citizens of Myanmar, and if needed UN forces must be put on the ground to establish peace and trust between the communities.
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Prof. Abdelkader Zerougui is an adjunct professor of sociology at American University in Washington DC, where he received his MA and PhD in sociology. Prof. Zerougui’s writings have appeared on many respected media including the Washington Times and The Seoul Times.
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