Myanmar claims persecution not lead to migration

Myanmar says persecution does not push Rohingya Muslims to displace

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Myanmar claimed on Thursday , neither persecution nor discrimination against Rohingya Muslims lead to South Asian migrant crisis.   

The claims came after the US demands on recognising ethnic Rohingya as citizens to halt the root cause of migrant crisis in the region.

"Rohingyas need to be treated as citizens of Burma," US Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told reporters at a press briefing in Jakarta, using the country's former name.

"They need to have identity cards and passports that make clear they are as much citizens of Burma as anyone else," she added.

US President Barack Obama also said on Monday if Myanmar wants to ripen its democracy it should end discrimination against Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar does not give the rights of 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, many of them seek to  escape from persecution of Buddhist nationals.

"It has been portrayed that discrimination and persecution are causing people to leave Rakhine state, but that is not true," Myanmar's Minister of Foreign Affairs Wunna Maung Lwin said in a meeting with diplomats in Yangon.  

Wunna Maung said the true cause of the influx is human trafficking, referring as the presence of Bangladeshi on the boats which were intercepted by Myanmar's navy last month.

"This incident... has shown to the region as well as the international community this is not the root cause," Wunna said.

Yangon Region Ethnic Rakhine Affairs, Zaw Aye Maung claimed in the same briefing that displaced people in the camps don't have any problem and live happily.

Desperate immigrant stranded at Andaman Sea after Thai crackdown on trafficking camps. They left the migrants at the sea as they can't continue with the human cargo since it was risky.    

Seven hundred and thirty-four migrants were found on Friday and were carried by fishing boats to country by Myanmar's navy on Wednesday, according to Wunna Maung.  

"The traffickers told us 'we can't go to Thailand, so you have to go alone'," a Rohingya Muslim Marmod Toyo told Reuters.

"There's not enough food back home and no work," he said. "The human trafficker came and gave me money. I knew he might sell me, but I needed it." he added.

Myanmar and Indonesia intend to repatriate economic migrants from  Bangladesh but repatriation of ethnic Rohingya is more complex, according to Andy Rachmianto, the International Security and Disarmament Director at the Foreign Ministry.

"We need to differentiate between Rohingya migrants and migrants from Bangladesh because their motivations are different," Rachmianto said.   

"So resolving this is relatively easy compared with resolving the case of our Rohingya brothers," he added.   

Many ethnic Rohingyas who continue their life in scrappy camps of Bangladesh have increasing fear about losing their place again.

"This is home for us now, it is peaceful here," said Nur Alam, who crossed the Naf river with a tiny boat in 1991 and reached the country.

"We are not sure we will be safe elsewhere," he added.  

Around 400,000 Rohingyas living in the Bangladeshi camps without identity documents and works. According to the political adviser of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it would cause problems for local people and pose an obstacle to development of the region.

"The Rohingya are the citizens of Myanmar and they must go back," Hasina said.

"We feel for them, but we are unable to host them any longer." he added.

TRTWorld and agencies