The recent tragedy of hundreds of boat people floating in the wilderness of the sea without food and other basic amenities has drawn the world's attention to the protracted suffering of the Rohingyas. Various governments, UN organisations, human rights groups and eminent personalities like Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have urged the Myanmar government to stop persecution of the Rohingyas and grant them citizenship and basic human rights. It is time the global community intensifies its effort to make the Myanmar government see reason and end the ordeal of the Rohingyas by accepting them as citizens of Myanmar.
In the wake of the recent crisis, the Myanmar government had denied its responsibility for the protection of Rohingyas. Rather, they blamed it out on Bangladesh by referring to the floating Rohingyas as Bangladeshi citizens. They even did not want to entertain any discussion on the issue. However, later the Myanmar government attended the emergency conference on boat people held in Bangkok. Although the meeting ended without any viable answer to the Rohingya question, that Myanmar at least recognised the crisis went down well with the observers.
As a solution to the problem, resettlement of Rohingyas to a third country has been discussed by various forums. For the time being it sounds plausible but in the long run it is not a sustainable option. Moreover, this precludes Myanmar's fundamental responsibility to accept its own citizens under international law. In a recent visit to Malaysia, US Secretary of State for Refugees Anne Richard said that the answer to the Rohingya issue lay in peace and stability in the Rakhine state and acceptance of Rohingyas as citizens of Myanmar. We fully endorse her views.