Suu Kyi can implement reforms but are unlikely to weaken military control and, moreover, less likely to address the plight of the Rohingya.
A supporter of the National League for Democracy holds a picture of Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi as she waits for results outside the party headquarters after the general elections in Yangon, Myanmar, November 8, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Shui Bao Mia Tin
The National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed its majority in the just-concluded national elections in Myanmar. Although official results have yet to be announced, according to Yway Mal, an independent vote-counting group, the National League for Democracy has 396 seats in Parliament, and more than 322 seats are required to form the next government..
There were 5,643 candidates from 91 parties competing for 1,199 seats at the state and national levels. Suu Kyi in her successive state is expected to make some reforms, but it is unlikely to weaken the military’s control over the country and, moreover, is unlikely to address the plight of the Rohingya.. .
Historically, Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 until the country witnessed its first free and peaceful elections in 2015.. However, even after that, the military remained in a strong position as the military’s 2008 constitution, which was passed through a controversial referendum, automatically grants them 25% of the legislative seats reserved under Article 14.. . Article 17b retains the army’s designation of the Ministers of Defense, Internal Security, and Border Affairs. It also has the authority to take over the country during emergency (40C) and establish the National Defense and Security Council under Article 201 during a crisis with military representatives..
Discrimination against the Rohingya is entrenched politically and militarily in Myanmar. Despite talking about peace and ethnic unity in the country, during the 2015 elections, Suu Kyi adopted a pragmatic approach and did not choose a Muslim or Rohingya candidate for the National League for Democracy party that prompted her to vote.. . After winning the election, Suu Kyi was largely silent even as hundreds of Rohingya were forced to flee due to the military crackdown against them in October 2016.. This campaign took place after the « rebel terrorists » ???? Nine Myanmar border guards were killed on October 9, 2016 at the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The latest Rohingya crisis came as a result of the confrontation between the army and hard-line Rohingya groups that were triggered after the Al-Yaqeen Movement, also known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, attacked 30 police posts and an army base. In the towns of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathidaung on the northern side of Rakhine State on August 25, 2017. In that attack, 12 Myanmar soldiers and officials and 80 rebels were killed.
Soon after, around 3,000 Rohingya homes were torched; Women and girls were raped en masse by soldiers and executed fleeing civilians. Also, in this violence, about 30 were displaced. 000 Buddhists and Hindus from Rakhine. Since August 2017, more than 656,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh alone.
Rohingya refugees reflect in rainwater along a bridge by rice fields after fleeing Myanmar to Palang Khali, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh November 2, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay / File Photo
While the world accused Myanmar of « ethnic cleansing and genocide », comparing it to previous human tragedies in Darfur, Bosnia, and Rwanda, Suu Kyi sided with the army. After the August 2017 attack, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held a meeting with the Union’s Ministers of Home Affairs, Defense, and Border Affairs, the Office of the State Counselor, the Office of the President, as well as the National Security Adviser.. ARSA has been declared a terrorist organization, and various committees have been formed to carry out the tasks of ensuring security, stability, peace, rule of law and regional development in Rakhine State..
In the army’s counterattack, the irrefutable evidence presented by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Myanmar Report of September 2018 confirmed human rights violations and violations committed by the Myanmar military and security forces against the Rohingya. Even the Kofi Annan Advisory Committee, which submitted its recommendations to the Suu Kyi government on August 24, 2017, proved to be a futile exercise in resolving the crisis.. .
The Kofi Annan Commission Report called for the development of comprehensive state policies to overcome the social, political, economic, legal and humanitarian crises in Rakhine. It also recommended the formation of an executive committee that was formed, but later, two prominent members of the implementation committee resigned, describing the committee as a « cheerleading team ???? » And the « white washing process » ???? To the government.
Currently, it’s about 1. 9 million ethnic Rohingya are deprived of citizenship, while more than 723,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee Arakan (Rakhine) â ?? Their home in Myanmar ???? To neighboring Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar and some even India. In fact, Bangladesh has been receiving Rohingya refugees since 1978. However, only 210,000 Rohingya were repatriated under the repatriation agreement that Bangladesh signed with the then government of the Socialist Union of Burma.. .
Again in 1991-1992, when the Myanmar army intensified its crackdown, 250,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to escape violence and persecution. To remedy the situation, an agreement has been signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar recognizing the legal residency of Rohingya in Burma. Under it, Myanmar agreed to take all necessary measures to end the outflow as well as to encourage the safe and voluntary return of those who have already left Myanmar.. .
Rohingya refugees gather to celebrate the second anniversary of the exodus at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, August 25, 2019. Photo: Reuters / File Photo / Rafiq Rahman
In the 34-page election manifesto for 2020, the National League for Democracy formulated three major electoral agendas: to address ethnic concerns and achieve internal peace; A constitution guaranteeing a truly democratic federation; And sustainable development. Interestingly, the National League for Democracy is repeating constitutional amendments to limit the role of the military in allocating parliamentary seats: a reduction to 15% after the 2020 elections, 10% after 2025 and 5% after 2030.. . In early 2020, Suu Kyi suggested modification but failed.
According to a Reuters report, there were about 200 people on the voter list in 2015, but in 2020, there was no voter list in Rakhine State.. This is due to the army’s proposal not to hold elections in five towns, including Rakhine State, for security reasons. While the Rohingya were denied the vote, Ai Win, one of the six Rohingya who was allowed to run, told Reuters, « There was little hope of winning unless more Rohingya were granted citizenship before the vote? » ???.
It is important to note here that until 2010, the Rohingya held « temporary check cards » ???? Used to cast their votes. In 2010, Rohingya parties contested elections but were unable to win even a single seat. In 2015, they were denied their rights.
As long as the political and military leadership of Myanmar remains steadfast in its position on the Rohingya, their plight will continue. Those still in Myanmar could face more violence and those who fled the country would be forced to remain as refugees..
Amit Ranjan is a Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, and Kaveri is a PhD Research Fellow at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar (Burma), Rohingya people, National League for Democracy, United Nations, 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis, Bangladesh
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