We endorse the comments of the British government on the issue of the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees, calling on the new government in Myanmar to take steps towards safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State. Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth has hit the nail on the head by flagging the main issue—the solution is in Myanmar and with the Myanmar government; we believe it lies with Aung Sun Suu Kyi particularly.
Much depends on Suu Kyi and how she handles the Rohingya and the Rakhine issue. With only the second election held in Myanmar since the end of military rule in the country in 2011, her NLD is expected to win and indeed she has already claimed victory. But how much can we depend on her for a solution? The Rohingyas have been disenfranchised along with other minority groups and election in the Rakhine was postponed on the excuse of unrest and security concern in the region. The disposition of Suu Kyi towards the Rohingyas, her pandering to the military and her stubborn unwillingness to uphold the principles of human rights and justice have denigrated not only her credentials as a Nobel Peace Laureate but demeaned the status and dignity of the prize too.
Thus the moot point is will the new government in Myanmar rise above the ingrained parochial and prejudiced attitude that have infused the psyche of the government of Myanmar, which have also afflicted Suu Kyi, and accord due recognition to the Rohingyas and give them their due rights? We also have been calling for the fulfilment of the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations, including recognising the Rohingyas as citizens of Myanmar, giving them freedom of movement, and ensuring their access to essential services. We thank the minister for reiterating it. But while we are heartened by his affirmation of providing the political support needed to resolve this crisis in the long-term, we restate that the political support cannot lack teeth. Given that the rulers in Naypyidaw have become so inured to international criticism, only a very strong and substantive pressure can work. Otherwise, all that is being said will be merely sound and fury signifying little.