intrinsic issue

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Oct 2017 11:51:50

THE problem with Myanmar is intrinsically linked to its history. No matter how democratic its de facto leader Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi may claim to be, the country’s recent history spanning about five decades shows that the Burmese people have often suffered at the hands of rulers who often had a strong support of the military in their political machinations. Even as she languished in solitary confinement in her own home for 27 years in spurts, Ms. Suu Kyi had known one historical fact very well that her redemption, too, would come via a pact with the military rulers. She made her democratic stand and credentials clear, but did not mind accommodating certain expectations of the military junta to ensure that at least a semblance of democracy was available for people to breathe rather freely. Despite this, the Burmese leadership often tended to be rough in its handling of countless domestic issues. The problem of the Rohingya Muslims now raging in Myanmar has its origin in this historical trait of the country. 

“Call me Suu, just Suu”, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi would often say to anybody and everybody, thus projecting herself as truly a people’s leader. There is little doubt about the fact that she is truly a people’s leader. Yet, when the Rohingya issue cropped up, thanks to spells of mutual violence indulged in by the Rohingyas as well as other people in the wishy-washy fabric of Myanmar’s public affairs, Ms. Suu Kyi could not control the direction of the intense communal conflict. Her failure to exercise an effective control of the internal situation, now, has pushed the country again into a condition redemption from which may not be easily possible. For, even though Ms. Suu Kyi has indicated that she would think of taking the Rohingyas back to Myanmar, the world will often be steeped in doubt about her credentials. For, it is widely suspected that Ms. Kyi’s statement about taking the Rohingyas back is nothing but an almost after-thought response to the recent American threat that the US may not entertain the very idea of treating the Myanmar military’s meddling in political affairs lightly.

Against this background, the only way out of the Rohingya tangle is to emerge from the shadow of the military and tackle the issue totally democratically. The very fact that both, India and Bangladesh, do not want the Rohingya burden shows how badly that issue has been handled by the Myanmar leadership in the past some time. Thus, it is an absolute imperative that the Myanmar leadership handled the Rohingya issue almost independently -- and also democratically.

Another historical reality is that the Rohingya Muslims are a troublesome lot, all itching to foment trouble on slightest of pretexts. Their conflict with the Buddhist community in Myanmar, thus, has to be viewed more from the historical point of view than merely political. Rohingya has been a cantankerous community and India’s reluctance to accept its members stems from this realisation.

So, as she stands on the cusp of a total demise of military influence and emergence of fully democratic style of public affairs in Myanmar, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi will have to tread very cautiously so that she does not make compromise on her excellent democratic credentials as well as the exigencies of the Rohingya tangle. This is easier said than achieved. The lady is a tough tackler of challenges, and has enough patience to wait until the issue starts losing its fire. With the totality of the situation in the background, it must be said that the Rohingya issue would be one of the worst challenges Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has to confront. Yet, given her ability to stay calm and steer clear of any storm, there is a reason to hope that she would work out certain miracle.