Does anyone find it odd that no country wants a group of Muslims who have been wreaking havoc on the native population of the country that took them in? Thailand has just sent back 1,300 Rohinga Muslim invaders to Myanmar, a country that doesn’t want them either for the same reasons.
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TIME Rohinga Muslim asylum seekers are being returned to Myanmar (Burma), which they fled after having endured violent persecution and sectarian bloodshed which they brought upon themselves by killing Buddhist monks and raping Buddhist women. Human Rights activists have called the move “appalling,” People who know better have called it par for the course.
The figure represents virtually all of the Rohingya Muslim boatpeople who have washed up on Thai shores. Many Rohinga risk their lives attempting to reach perceived safe havens, such as Muslim-majority Malaysia, on barely seaworthy boats, only to get detained in Thai waters. But Bangkok has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and still does not have functioning asylum procedures. (Thailand has enough trouble from their own Muslim population)
“The Thai government has consistently failed to respect the rights of Rohinga asylum seekers,” says Matthew Smith, executive director of the Fortify Rights NGO. “It’s an appalling response to serious human rights violations.”
The Rohingya have been dubbed “one of the world’s most persecuted peoples” by the U.N., and around 140,000 current live in squalid displacement camp in western Burma’s Arakan state after ethnic violence that saw thousands of homes burnt and claimed more than 280 lives since June 2012. (Persecuted? How about nobody wants them because they are violent?)
Despite the latest repatriation, activists warn that many more boatpeople will likely be washing up on Thai beaches soon, especially after a recent escalation in violence and heightened tensions over a new national census. (They’ll be sent back, too. Why don’t they go to Muslim countries? Oh, that’s right, Muslim countries like Bangladesh don’t want them either)
Last month, at least 48 Muslims were killed when Buddhist mobs attacked a village western Burma’s northern Arakan state, according to the U.N. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on authorities “to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice.”
The Burmese government claimed Rohinga groups were spurring unrest, and dismissed reports in foreign media that “children and women were killed in the violence.”
On Feb. 4, Rohinga MP Shwe Maung was interrogated by police for 90 minutes after giving an interview to the Democratic Voice of Burma, during which he claimed to “have solid information from locals in nearby villages who phoned me and said they saw the police setting the houses on fire.”
According to the Myanmar Times, the lawmaker, a member of the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, said the subsequent police action came at the direct request of reformist President Thein Sein.
Denied Burmese citizenship, Rohinga face restrictions on movement, marriage and education. Stoking tensions is the first national census for 30 years, which is due to take place from March 30 until April 10, run by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and Naypyidaw government at a cost of some $75 million.
In November 2012, a separate survey, conducted without the UNFPA, sparked violence when Rohingya refused to register as “Bengali,” and several people were gunned down by security forces in subsequent protests. Naturally, “the Rohinga population have very legitimate concerns about participating in a paper trail that could very well be used against them,” says Smith.
Conversely, militant Buddhists have used the impending census to stoke sectarian fervor. “Some extremist Rakhine political actors undoubtedly fear that the census would establish a baseline Rohinga population that would make it more difficult to sustain the narrative of recent migration in the future,” says the International Crisis Group in a report released Thursday.
Even the saffron-robed Buddhist clergy have frequently enflamed religious tensions. On Thursday, a meeting by the main opposition National League for Democracy party, led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had to be canceled after more than 40 monks complained that two of the four speakers were Muslim.