CONUNDRUM: How can we the international community assist in helping to holding Myanmar’s shaky ethnic patchwork together?
Aung San Suu Kyi will shortly travel to Norway to formally collect the Nobel Peace Prize that was originally bestowed upon her in 1991. Yet, as Ms Suu Kyi embarks upon a diplomatic tour of Europe, disquieting levels of ethnic violence in Myanmar threaten to sour and cast a dampener over the Nobel Laureate’s first string of foreign visits since 1988.
Formerly on the SSP Blog, we lauded the conclusion of successful parliamentary elections held throughout Myanmar April 1 of this year, which built upon the transfer of military rule to civilian control in 2010. However, simmering ethnic tensions and explosions of pockets of violence in Rakhine State threatens to stunt and retard the progress Myanmar has made over the course of the last decade.
Bloodshed and increasing levels of enmity between the majority Buddhist population in Rakhine State and the minority Rohingya Muslim people this last week offers a stark wake up call to the international community that our work in Myanmar is far from complete. Efforts must be made to generate more goodwill towards the Rohingya community, and to swiftly curb discrimination against this minority group, halting ethnic violence. The Shared Societies Project advocates the acceptance of greater pluralism in Myanmar society; fundamentally, a place must be located within the nation’s fabric for the Rohingya community. Policy makers in Naypyidaw must alter the current policy of denying them citizenship and classifying them as illegal immigrants.
A healthy dosage of soul-searching is undoubtedly required amongst the Burmese political class, as the current disquieting trend of bigotry against the nation’s Rohingya community can no longer continue. If not, ethnic and communal violence may potentially damage democratisation and development in the whole country.
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