12:00 AM, November 21, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 21, 2012

Editorial

Obama adds a powerful voice on Rohingya issue

Follow-up measures needed urgently

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President Obama has spoken out against widespread ethnic violence in Rakhine state in his speech at Yangon University on Monday. With the death toll hovering around 180 and some 110,000 people displaced due to clashes between the dominant Buddhist and ethnic Rohingyas since June, the western state in Myanmar bordering Bangladesh has turned into a humanitarian disaster one that needs to be resolved through national reconciliation above all else.
Rakhine state is situated adjoining the Bangladesh border and hence any disruption in communal harmony over there causes problems on our side. We wholeheartedly support what President Obama has stated. We would like to add that international bodies like the UNHCR and other influential quarters in the West must persuade Myanmar to see reason and end the internal displacement of Rohingyas and their exodus.
What we now urge the Bangladesh government to do is to be proactive in mobilizing the international community in favour of calling an end to the perilous plight of Rohingyas, as well as engaging the Myanmar government on the issue bilaterally. Recent statements by Myanmar leaders with reference to the Rohingyas being immigrants from Bangladesh simply do not hold up in the face of historical fact that these people are Arakanese and they have been so for centuries. Hence attempts to push ethnic Rohingyas into Bangladesh's territory constitute a violation of international as well as human rights. It has now become imperative that the statelessness of the Rohingyas be addressed on a permanent footing by according them citizenship rights.

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