A Catalog of Sorrow

The current "Rohingya/Bengali" conflict in Burma does have very complex political and historical roots from the time of Burma gaining independence in 1948. Problem for that "Rohingya/Bengali" community was compounded in 1971 break-up of the then old East Pakistan into Bangladesh. That time, diplomatic notes indicated up to 500,000-800,000 East Pakistanis war refugees (Bengali/Pashtoon tribes) overflowed into Northern Arakan where current "Rohingya/Bengali" community (legitimate Burma residents). This entail an immigration crackdown, most infamously known as "Operation King Dragon 1979", conducted by the late military dictator General Ne Win.

Another crackdown took place on 1991, which sent 300,000 running to Bangladesh border. Most of them went back to Arakan under UNHCR program in 1995-1997. I suspect current "Rohingya/Bengali" residual caseloads of 32,000 which residing in two UNHCR run camps maybe the remnants of the earlier events (1971-1979).

A girl carries a toddler in her arms in Kutapalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.  Photo: Getty Images
A girl carries a toddler in her arms in Kutapalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Getty Images

The Getty Image picture with a refugee girl holding children is a residual camp from one the two, the Kutupalong and Narayapra in Bangladesh run by UNHCR, which standing still since 1991-92. Think for a moment about the predicaments of those refugees in residual camps: living in the camps over 20 years, had those children grown up in camp with little or no skill for survival in the world outside. These refugees aren't so-called queue jumpers. Whilst Bangladesh had ruled out any "local integration" for these Rohingya/Bengalis, had any third country resettlement were to be considered, they should have to be the first in line. But sadly, they weren't.

Out of desperation, I had written a letter in 2015 to the Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, appealing him to look into the case of these stateless refugees. Earlier, the Pakistani politicians had seen championing the cause of Rohingya/Bengali Muslims, whom they considered to be under the Buddhist/Burmese Government's oppressions. Ever since I wrote that letter of request, I heard NOTHING WHATSOEVER from those high sounding Pakistanis political groups, including the Prime Minister. I am so sorry; the Pakistanis are of "NO SHOW UPS" when it comes to genuinely needed case of stateless Rohingya/Bengali refugees.

Protesting 1982 Citizenship Laws, Narapaya refugee camp
Rohingya Refugees Protesting 1982 Citizenship Laws
(Despite protesting 1982 Burma Citizenship Laws, it's feared that the majority of residents may not even eligible for the screening process. နာရာပရ ဒုကၡသည္ စခန္း ဆႏၵျပၾကသူမ်ား။ ၁၉၈၂ နိင္ငံသား ဥပေဒ အား ၄င္းတို ့ ဆႏၵပင္ ျပၾက ေသာ္လည္း၊ ယင္း အမ်ားစု မွာ ျမန္မာနိင္ငံ မွ လက္ခံ စစ္ေဆးရန္ လံုးဝ အေၾကာင္း ရွိပံု ပင္ မေပၚေျခ။ )

That group of (residual refugees) would be different from those Rohingya/Bengali came out of very recent military crackdown. The difference being that those residual caseloads were "never" accorded by the Burmese governments -- past and present -- as their citizens. Those Rohingya/Bengali who came out recently must have certain legal Myanmar residency, though it wouldn't be proper citizenship as such, to be certain.

Australian government over the year had thrown few millions towards those refugees in Western part of Burma. Apart from that, it lacks any real capacity -- moral and intellectual -- to engage in that ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis there. Most infamous contribution, so far, had been the Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "Nope, Nope, Nope" on the Bengali/Rohingya boatpeople crisis in 2015. I am deeply, deeply saddened by it.

In Burma, there is very little information about this community; all the Burmese people having is a good load of prejudice and myths about this community. Needless to say, no one, including Burmese authorities and the politicians of day, can competently be able to describe this "Rohingya/Bengali" community. Former UN Chief Kofi Annan, of course, had been asked to conduct inquiry on the case of Rohingya/Bengalis. But, is there anyone (Burmese politicians or civic leaders) in Burma looking out for the solution ? I am sorry, I haven't seen one!

U Ne Oo, Sydney.

Australia Slammed for refusing to back investigation, Sydney Morning Herald

Residual Cases

Letter to Pakistanis Prime Minister, Nawaraz Sherif