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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Perception of Rohingya as persecuted is ‘superficial’, says Masing

The 'ebb and flow' between persecutor and persecuted in Myanmar's Rakhine state depends on who is in power, says Sarawak deputy chief minister James Masing

Myanmar alone can’t do anything to stop the plight faced by the Rohingya community there, as it is a problem that has gone on for centuries, says Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Masing.

He also said that the current perception that the Rohingyas were the persecuted group is “superficial”.

“And it fails to take into account the historical perspective of the ancient ethnic rivalries,” he said to FMT, in reference to Rakhine state’s native Buddhist community, and the Rohingyas, who are Muslims, living there.

According to Masing, the “ebb and flow between the persecutors and the persecuted”, depended on who was in power in Myanmar.

“If the administrator of Myanmar is predisposed and kind to the native communities of Rakhine state, then the Rohingyas from Bengal (now known as Bangladesh) would be persecuted.

“If the administrator is weak and the Bengal next door is able to assert its influence in Myanmar, then the Rakhine native communities become persecuted, and the Rohingyas become persecutor.”

He said Myanmar government had for centuries tried to resolve the conflict, but they kept failing.

“Hence, the international communities should now step in and help the country in its efforts to stop the violence happening in Rakhine state,” Masing said.

He called for Asean countries to take the first step, followed by the United Nations.

“Myanmar cannot do it alone.”

Late last month, around 1,000 protesters gathered near a major road in Kuala Lumpur calling for an end to violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

This came after renewed violence in the Rakhine state, which occurred between security forces and Rohingya militants after the latter staged raids on police posts.

The violence is still raging, and at least 110 people are so far confirmed dead while at least 18,500 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the International Organization for Migration.

There are almost 60,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, according to the United Nations.

Persecution of the Rohingya, reviled as illegal immigrants by the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar, has caused much anger in Malaysia and across the Muslim world.

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