Published: 12:29 AM, 15 December 2018
Rohingyas continue to dominate headlines
Rohingya issue refuses to die and Rohingya migration to safer havens from Myanmar continues unabated in a set pattern to escape the military onslaught of the Myanmar state. It’s more than a year now when the Rohingyas started fleeing from Myanmar after abandoning their homes following massive crackdown on them.
While nearly 7 million Rohingyas are already sheltered in neighboring Bangladesh, many are still leaving for elsewhere. It all began on Aug 25, 2017 when the massive attack by military annihilating the Rohingyas forced them to flee. The trend continues.
A large section of the security analysts watching Rohingya challenge, reckon that most of the refugees are vulnerable for radicalization which might pose danger to peace in the region. Here, however, there is a considerable section of pacifists who contest the allegations of radicalization.
They too have a point. From the humanitarian point of view, their argument is that homeless and starved; Rohingyas are unlikely to accept indoctrination. This said, experts also hold a view that in the Rakhine state of Myanmar itself, there were serious attempts by Pakistan inspired terror outfit Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) to radicalize the impoverished Rohingyas fraught with perils caused by the Myanmar army to decimate.
Some reliable inputs indicated that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) jumped into the muddied waters to exploit and in a suspected collaboration with LeT, started radicalizing the fleeing refugees. Military commander of ARSA, Hafiz Tohar came to notice in actively indoctrinating many Rohingyas or even giving them military training.
Bangladesh authorities had also apprehended that that such a large number of Rohingya refugees remain vulnerable to be exposed to be indoctrinated. In India too, there are considerable number of them amid protests by many that they are a great risk to the national security though many have gone back to Myanmar through the borders of the Indian north east.
Against the backdrop of what has been described above, a new development has recently surfaced amid most credible reports that Myanmar has very recently intercepted a boat carrying 93 Rohingya Muslims trying to escape from displacement camps in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state to reach Malaysia. Rohingyas’ taking refuge to Malaysia now and that too in considerable number.
This new pattern of flight to Malaysia assumes significance as Malaysia has a Prime Minister in Mahatir Mohamed who, hitherto, has been known to be a moderate Muslim and never came to light fostering Islamic fundamentalism. But fresh appraisal was made in his dramatic shift in approach when he shelters hate preacher and Islamic activist, Dr Zakir Naik, relocating him from Saudi Arabia, granting him permanent residency and spurning repeated Indian requests to extradite him to India.
It would be interesting to see that what stance Mahatir adopts to deal with the Rohingyas if at all they reach the Malaysian soil. It may be recalled that earlier in November 2016, around 106 Rohingyas attempted to reach Malaysia escaping from a commercial hub in Yangon.
It’s equally intriguing to see that why on one hand, Myanmar is encouraging Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh but on their attempts to flee to Malaysia, and on the other, authorities are trying to stop them from moving to Malaysia?
In an unrelated development, Myanmar military and specially its 33rd Light Infantry Division (LID), known for its brutality, have started targeting another ethnic group, the Kachins, in a recent military drive.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been internationally criticized for her open support to the military for carrying out its adventurist and repressive actions dividing Buddhist and Muslim communities and even recognition accorded to her by many international organizations are being divested from her like the Amnesty International.
She, however, continues to be relentless in her approach. Against this background, Rohingyas, either way, remain vulnerable for easy exploitation. From the military, as well as from the general Myanmarese population.
The writer is a security – analyst and freelance writer on topical issues. Views expressed are personal