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Embassy of Myanmar policy to Muslims: Out of here!
The Myanmar authorities have left an alarming option for the one million Rohingya in this part of the country's coast: Demonstrate that your ancestors have been living here for more than 60 years and have qualified for second-class nationality, or that you are accommodated in a camp and are facing deportations. These policies, together with a flood of regulations and laws, have made the lives of the Rohingya, a long prosecuted Moslem majority, increasingly distressed and fueled the largest stream of Rohingya returnees since a great expedition two years ago.
The Arakan project, a group monitoring Rohingya people, says that in the last three months alone, 14,500 Rohingya have travelled from the Rakhine State to Thailand with the aim of arriving in Malaysia. For the White House, the crises have become an awkward moment ahead of President Obama's planned trip to Myanmar next weekend.
While Myanmar is seen by the Myanmar authorities as a successful Asian external relations affair, they are concerned that a further clash between free handed extremist Buddhists and the Rohingya could prevent the already rugged shift from junta leadership to democracy reforms. Mr Obama phoned President Thein Sein of Myanmar last weekend and urged him to "address the tension and human rights situations in the state of Rakhine," the White House said.
Obama's most open call to the Myanmar administration to date called on Myanmar's leaders to review the anti-Rohingya policy, in particular the relocation plans. Burma must "support the bourgeois and bourgeoisie' s right to politics," he said. Rohingya have been discriminated against for years. Recent flare-ups began with an eruption of cultist riots in 2012, killing hundred of Rohingya and burning down tens of their communities by Buddhist radicals.
Almost 100,000 people have escaped from the land since then, and more than 100,000 have been held in poor refugee camp. The deterioration of camp circumstances has increased global pressures on the regime to find a humanitarian one. Instead, the regime seems to be speeding up a policy that has been described by groups of citizens as racial cleanup.
To many Rohingya, the new Rakhine Action Plan is a kind of last indignity, said Mohamed Saeed, a fellowship organiser in a warehouse on the outskirts of Sittwe, the Rakhine state city. Much Rohingya came to Myanmar in the nineteenth centuary, when the British reigned everything that is now India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
However, the government's request for residency since 1948 is too burdensome for many who either do not have the necessary documents or do not meet the requirements of six decades, say defenders of respect for people. Persons who can provide evidence of domicile are only eligible for naturalised nationality, which has fewer privileges than full nationality and can be withdrawn.
They would also be classed as "Bengali" and not as Rohingya, which means that they are Bangladeshi migrants and leave the option of expulsion open. Pursuant to the scheme, those Rohingya who are unable to fulfil the standard for naturalised nationality or refusal to adopt the Bengali name will be placed in a camp before being expelled.
A spokesperson said the United Nations Refugees Relocation Service was asked by the federal administration to take part in the relocation, but the service was not. Rakhine's action plan is only one part of a variety of policy and tactic designed to marginalise the Rohingya. In that year the Rohingya were hindered from taking part in the people' s vote, in line with the government' s view that they are foreign nationals.
The law, which was passed in parliament two month ago, would exclude Rohingya from next year's elections. The parliament is also considering a bill that would prohibit inter-religious marriages, a move that should be said by lawyers on behalf of humanitarian protection to fuel the anti-Muslimism. Politics is adding to an ever worse state of affairs in the Rohingya population.
There are practically no healthcare facilities in the Sittwe camp, where about 140,000 Rohingya are living. There has been a sharp rise in the number of young Rohingya men and men arrested in the towns around Maungdaw, a Rohingya-dominated city near the Bangladesh borders, United Nations agents and defenders of humanitarian law said.
Border police detained more than 100 Rohingya for illegally gathering and refusing to take part in the action forums. Arakan Project Principal Chris Lewa said the detentions were part of a drive to compel the men to flee the state. Many start the high-risk boating tours to Thailand on their way to Malaysia, a Moslem land that calmly accepts the escapees, on a grey sand shore near Ohn Taw Shi, a fishermen's town lined with coco palms on the edge of a refugee camps.
Traffickers, Chan Thet Maung, a cell phone hung on his trousers and ear plugs, said that when the wood ships were full of Rohingya, they would sail northwards for about five long hrs to join bigger ships. The United Nations Office for Refugees reports in an in-house document that there, in the water off the Thai-Bangladesh Myanmar frontier, there are sometimes multi-storey ships occupied for day or week by multi-level crew, often violent and undercover.
According to Matthew Smith, head of Fortify Rights, an organisation investigating Myanmar's ethnical groups, the travel of smugglers is encouraged by locals. "Myanmar's trade and contraband begins with the involvement of the Myanmar authorities," he said. "We have recorded that Myanmar's policemen and military have received up to seven million kyats in exchange for the crossing of a vessel at Sea.
The Myanmar Navy has in some cases been escorting vessels full of escaping Rohingya and run by criminals into foreign seas, Mr Smith said. For most Rohingya who want to abandon the camp or the village in the north of Rakhine, they are paying 200 dollars just to get on a ship. In Thailand, the traffickers will be paid an extra $2,000 for the second stage to Malaysia.
Rohingya in Sittwe can get a document for a 90-minute day trip to Yangon for $4,000. One 20-year-old Rohingya studen whose family consolidated donations for the $4,000, said his facilitator gave more than 75 per cent of the costs to immigration officers. As all Rohingya pupils, he was deported in 2012.
Said the college kid who refuses to give his name for retaliation, the realtor accompanied him from the warehouse to Sittwe airfield in a federal vehicle with immigration and population officers. Rohingya says in Yangon, the country's trading capitol, that they have a simpler livelihood.
The longstanding Rohingya family runs business there, and the documentation is not examined as thoroughly as in Rakhine, where the separation has become a reality. Rakhine state spokesperson stressed that the Rohingya did not belonged to Myanmar and advocated the Rakhine action plan as necessary because the higher Islamic birth rate was threatening the Tibetan Muslim population.
A number of civil servants have described the Rakhine Action Plans as a proposed action and not as an formal politics. However, the administration has already started implementing the plans in at least one encampment, Myebon, 60 leagues southward of Sittwe. At the beginning of October, in a pre-Obama engagement speech, the Obama administration freed 15 deportees, three of whom were Rohingya.
One of them was U Kyaw Hla Aung, 75, a celebrity attorney, who was arrested after the Sittwe 2012 outbreak. Since then Rohingya has been excluded from the study of jurisprudence or medical science, one of the few Rohingya who was educated as a solicitor said Mr Kyaw Hla Aung that it was unlogical for the administration to persist that Rohingya was not a citizen.