Call them Rohingyas.

1) Not boat people. Not victims. Not homeless. They are not homeless. Myanmar is their home. They are stateless. Being denied of a place in their home does not mean they do not have one. Neither are they victims. Victimisation is dangerous. It opens the doors to using self-defense to justify acts of terror/immorality.

2) The Rohingya problem is not a religious issue. Associating it with religion is dangerous, as seen many times. It allows people to use this framework to further their political-economic agendas. Its good to note that violence by Buddhists/ Muslims etc does not equate to violence by Buddhism/ Islam etc.

3) It is not an us vs them kind of thing. It is not a Burmese vs Rohingyas issue. I think that emphasising dialectic will not help at all. There are people that truly are fighting against this injustice. Divisions are meaningless, they are easily exploited for political purposes.

Myanmar had a rough history of colonialism. During the British rule, Many South Asians are brought by the British to Myanmar to facilitate colonialism, through occupying jobs like money lenders. Because of this, during the anti-colonialism period, which had a vision of ethno-nationalism, many South Asians and minorities, including Rohingyas, of Myanmar are targeted. So today, when international communities tries to interfere with the issue, many people of Myanmar, especially Burmese, perceives to be yet another foreign plot, understandably. And this re-emphasises the dialectic. (Perhaps this is why Aung San Suu Kyi is not speaking out?) Thus, ASEAN has a much more important role in helping this problem (do correct me if I am wrong)

Wars, conflicts, they are never natural, but engineered, man-made. I don’t know what else to do, other than to be careful with how I talk about such issues and trying to understand the lives behind it. Southeast Asia has always been very complex because we had a history of migration and mobility. There is no one homogenous country in SEA. So there are minorities everywhere. What happens to one group of minorities in one country will affect the other minorities in other. One historian said during a talk I attended (from which  these understanding is gathered & I become very gratefully much more enlightened about this cause), we should seek not to find comfort in conformity, but to seek comfort in complexity. I love this. It’s a good reminder I think, because honestly, human nature leads many of us to favour the former at times.

Let’s accept the fact that we are all children of migration. Truly, home is not homogenous.


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