As the crisis in the Rakhine state of Myanmar continues to aggravate, Myanmar finds itself increasingly isolated in the world. The violence against the country’s Muslim minority Rohingya has spurred an international humanitarian crisis with most countries calling upon the regime in Naypyidaw to stop the widespread persecution. This week the United Nations appealed for immediate aid as the number of Rohingya fleeing into southern Bangladesh has topped 300,000. Since the upsurge in violence against the “world’s most persecuted minority” began in August this year, Myanmar’s troops have burnt down thousands of Rohingya homes and razed village after village in what appears to be a deliberate attempt at erasing the identity of the country’s hapless Muslim minority. Top global rights monitors have noted that Rohingya have faced a sustained campaign of arson aimed at driving them out of the country.
Myanmar’s approach to the Rohingya crisis has been fraught with contradictions. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s refusal to criticise the Myanmar army’s crackdown against the ethnic minority community has put her in the spotlight with several prominent voices around the world attacking her role as the de facto head of the Myanmar government (in her position of state counsellor). The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Gelug (Tibetan Buddhism), was the latest to add his concern, noting that Lord Buddha “would have definitely helped” the minority community in Myanmar. The pressure on Myanmar to end discrimination against its minority community must continue. Global outrage on the plight of Rohingya, who are being murdered, raped and tortured, isn’t enough. The regime in Myanmar must get the message loud and clear: stop persecution of minorities or risk international condemnation and isolation.