Saturday, May 23, 2015

Violent Burmese Buddhists more to blame than Brits

Let world remember why there is a Rohingya problem

Blaming the British for the Rohingya problem enables Vint Chavala to ignore the awkward truth that Buddhist groups, led by monks with extremist views, were actively involved in the violent attacks on Rohingya communities which erupted in 2012, thus breaking one of the basic principles of their faith, that of non-violence.

No doubt the British did settle large numbers of Rohingya in Arakan in the early 19th century, but it is believed that groups of Rohingyas had been there since at least the 16th century. In fact, the real cause of the Rohingya problem has been the policy of successive Myanmar governments to treat them as outcasts, denying them citizenship, and even the most basic of human rights. They are effectively "non persons" and are now in such a desperate situation that exile seems the only option.

It is of course easy to blame such contemporary problems on the so-called evils of colonialism, but many migrations of ethnic minorities were not linked to colonial policies. For example, discrimination against tribal groups in Thailand has been a longstanding issue, fortunately without the organised brutality seen in Myanmar.

We British gave the Burmese their independence in 1948. We no longer have any responsibility for what happens in Myanmar. It is up to the regional governments, including Myanmar, to work together to solve this terrible human catastrophe.

Robin Grant



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