May 16, 2015 by Darius
One contender for the miserable title of worst-off-group-not-in-an-active-war-zone are the Rohingya of Myanmar. Stateless, persecuted, and virtually imprisoned in concentration camps, the Rohingya are taking the only option left: boarding boats, often little more than rafts, by the thousands in the hopes of escaping to another Asian country. So far, the migration is only adding to the Rohingyas’ misery.
One after another, the navies of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have turned away boats carrying Rohingyas. Malaysia, at least, claims to have taken in more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees, but it, along with Indonesia, announced that it would turn away all future Rohingyas in response to this week’s arrival of another 1,500 Rohingya.
These migrants have nowhere to go and no options but to continue to die under the sun as they run out of food, water, medicine, and fuel in their boats, which are now being towed back out to sea.
What’s Myanmar’s government doing about the crisis? Creating it. Oh, and on May 29, Thailand is hosting a regional summit to discuss the crisis, but Myanmar won’t be attending: it objects to the use of the word “Rohingya,” instead continuing to insist the Rohingya, most of whom have been in Myanmar for decades or centuries, are all illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Nobody in Myanmar, including the leader of the opposition who has been canonized in the Western press, Aung Saan Suu Kyi, is willing to take a stand on behalf of the Rohingya. As for the US and other nations, they are more interested in continuing “engagement” in support of Myanmar’s mythical “reforms.”
I’ve been writing about the Rohingyas since November 2012 (see https://notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/thinking-aloud-myanmar-whats-going-on/). Back then, I felt the international community couldn’t possibly be so incompetent and/or venal to stand by as a million Rohingyas were killed or expelled from Myanmar. But it is and/or has. Make no mistake, though: what is unfolding today in the Bay of Bengal is slow-motion ethnic cleansing. It could become full-blown genocide at any time.
For more on the Rohingya crisis as it has evolved, see