I returned home from a quick and short visit to Yangon to assess the situation and mood on the ground. Generally there is no visible signs of any tensions. Life seems to go on as usual. The mark difference is the changing economic landscapes and continuous traffic jam. With wealth and riches you can trace the wide disparity between the rich and poor. Myanmar has become the favorite country for foreign investments. Everywhere you see the non stop construction activities. You see investors from the East and West flock to Yangon. New hotels, shopping malls and apartments. I met Mysis, US Ambassador and Interfaith President trying to judge the ground feeling of what is happening. It was clear the euphoria of transformation and democracy have overwhelmed any issue of human rights and or abuses of them.
The nations that were primary advocates of human rights and democracy want the process to continue. It seems these issues are put at the back burner. They sympathized the dilemma of the new government and suggested soft peddling of the Rohingya issue or other ethnic Muslim problems. The interfaith Chairman happily told me that the Rohingya community does not exist in Myanmar. I responded to him that there is no way you can obliterate an identity. Migration of people always happen in history even the Baman must have come from somewhere. That's not the issue and if they want democracy to be sustainable it must be inclusive.
The Muslim community in Burma from whatever ethnicity must be recognised. The denial is not going to solve the problem. I also had the opportunity to meet several Rohingya and Muslim politicians. I like the resilience of their spirit and the clarity that they would continue with the struggle for restoration of their rights. The position is they are not new comers who like to apply for citizenship but seeking restoration of their rights and status. I also sent a team of my NGO; HUMANiTi into Rakhine to distribute humanitarian aids in the little way we could. I came back to KL with hopes that ASEAN could work together to establish a people-centered region that is inclusive, fair and just to all its peoples.
FBSHApost@22 June 2016