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2015-12_dc

4 D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 Rohingya Next wave of refugees looming After a major refugee crisis in South- east Asia made international head- lines in May, several high-level international meetings took place, and regional governments promised to address the problems. However, neither the Rohingya’s situation in Myanmar nor international responses have improved since then, a recent report finds. “The next wave of refu- gees is coming,” it predicts. While Myanmar will soon have a new government and its people dream of a new era of democracy and political freedom, many Rohingya are heading to the sea. It’s sailing season again: the dangerous monsoon is over, the sea calm. In the coming months, thousands of desperate members of Myan- mar’s most persecuted minority are expected to take their chance to flee hope- lessness. Even after the landslide victory of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), things aren’t set to improve for the Muslim minority whose members primar- ily live in western Rakhine State near the border to Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD party leader and Nobel peace laure- ate, did not speak up for their cause ahead of November’s historic vote, and most peo- ple doubt she will do so now. It could mean risking her immense popularity. Political exclusion Anti-Muslim sentiment is very strong in the predominantly Buddhist country. The nationalist narrative regards Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Accordingly, they are called “Bengali”. In the 2014 census, they were denied self- identification and were thus not counted properly. Myanmar denies the Rohingya citizenship and has now excluded them from voting – unlike in 2010, when they could register with temporary identifica- tion documents, so called “white cards”. The election commission did not accept a single Rohingya candidate for parlia- ment. The election was symptomatic of the political exclusion, grave discrimination and marginalisation that about one mil- lion Rohingya people suffer in Myanmar. In a recent report, ASEAN Parliamentar- ians for Human Rights (APHR), a human- rights intervention force of lawmakers and other influential persons, warns of a major regional crisis. The document’s title is “Disenfranchisement and despera- tion in Myanmar’s Rakhine state: Drivers of a regional crisis”. The authors state that catastrophe is “impending” and warn that the leaders of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are “woefully ill prepared to cope”. Systematic persecution and exodus of Rohingya people have been going on for six decades. Several hundred thousand Rohingya live in exile, many of them in refugee camps. The situation in Rakhine worsened in 2012, when violence dis- placed an estimated 140,000 people, most of whom are Rohingya. They are now con- fined to camps for internally displaced per- sons (IDPs) and live in inhumane condi- tions. According to APHR, human-rights abuses include limits on movement and denial of humanitarian aid. IDPs have very limited access to schools, clinics and jobs. They have no decent livelihoods. Some families are even threatened by starvation because they are not registered with the World Food Programme and thus not eligi- ble to receive food aid, or because rations don’t arrive in time. The report highlights severe human- rights abuses in Rakhine, including extra- Suspects, allegedly involved in human trafficking of Rohingya migrants, are escorted by prison officials as they arrive at a criminal court in Bangkok on 10 November 2015. More than 150 warrants have been issued against officials suspected of their involvement in the trafficking ring. picture-alliance/dpa Monitor

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