Myanmar conflict cements military's role in politics


The conflict in Myanmar's Rakhine state consolidates the role of military in politics and defers the country's democratic transition further, an American political scientist told Anadolu Agency.

Since Aug. 25, some 515,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN. The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Nehginpao Kipgen, an assistant professor and executive director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies from JindaI School of International Affairs in India, said the violence in Myanmar only demonstrates the fact that transition to full democracy was still decades away.

"The violence in Rakhine and the challenges facing the government's peace process with the country's ethnic armed groups seem to suggest that the military will continue to consolidate its role in both politics and security matters.

"In other words, Myanmar's transition to a full or consolidated democracy will probably take years, if not decades," he said.

He went on to note that the Rohingya issue would continue to pose security and territorial threats unless the citizenship and identity issues remain unaddressed.

He further said the Myanmar people should come to terms with reality.

"It is also important for the people of Myanmar to understand that without addressing the fundamental issues of the Rohingya, such as identity and citizenship, the Rohingya issue will continue to pose security and territorial threats," he said.

- Address fundamental problem

He warned the issue would also hamper the nation's peace process and development too.

"It may be difficult or even impossible for many Burmese, including the military and the ultranationalist or nationalist groups to accept the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar," he added.

"The fundamental problem is that neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh governments are willing to accept the Rohingya Muslims as its own citizens."

About the ongoing refugee crises, he said the Myanmar government and the Bangladeshi government alongside the United Nations and other members of the international community, must address their needs.

Kipgen sees the long-term solution to the Rohingya conundrum in the implementation of Kofi Annan-led commission's recommendations.

"Government should take concrete steps to end enforced segregation of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, to address the statelessness of the Rohingya, and to end restrictions on the free movement of the Rohingya community."

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed. The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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