วันศุกร์ที่ 1 กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ. 2556
Message From Kru Ekachai - February
The Plight of the Stateless Rohingya
In the last few weeks, the problem of a minority group in the ASEAN region has come to limelight. Yes, I am refering to the Muslim Rohingyas, a group of people who predominantly live in the isolated North Rakhine State of western Myanmar for generations. They were recently found in raids in Thailand’s southern border province of Songkhla after they fled their home country. What really happened to these poor souls?
Ethnic discrimination is one of the main causes of the present plight of minorities and the increasing flow of refugees around the world. The Muslim Rohingya issue is an old problem that has eluded solution. The United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at 800,000 , but the government does not recognize them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. They have been living there without citizenship rights since 1982 due to the conflicts of the past. Alas, they are stateless and unwanted people. There is no place on earth for them to call home!
This minority group received much international attention after the riots broke out in Rakhine State since June last year. The Muslim Rohingya and Rakkine Buddhist attacked each other which lasted for weeks and resulted in the death of nearly 100 people. Thousands of Rohingyas fled their homes to seek an asylum in a third country. Malaysia has become the sole hope for them after Bangladesh crossed its borders. Thailand was merely a transit point for the Rohingya, not their intended destination. How this crisis can really be solved?
Thai government will shelter the Rohingya people for 6 months as a humanitarian aid and will seek talks to Myanmar and other countries to settle the fate of these illegal migrants. The problem is a demographic time bomb of Myanmar that the ASEAN region cannot afford to ignore.
Besides the stateless Rohingya Muslims, each of the Southeast Asian countries comprises many ethnic minorities of different sizes and types. Some of them still live in remote, mountainous or hill areas and their earlier lifestyles have escaped the full force of globalisation’s effects. ASEAN CORNER will take you to explore the unique minority ways of life and cultures throughout the month of February. Please stay connected and updated with all that's going on in the ASEAN region.