24September2017

Home Editorial RAKHINE, AN UNFINISHED STORY OF VIOLENCE

RAKHINE, AN UNFINISHED STORY OF VIOLENCE

Rakhine Province in Myanmar is not yet  fully peaceful. Last week (25/8), there were a series of violence in Rakhine by Rohingya militants. According to recent reports, more than 70 people were killed in the attack. But even greater is the exodus of ethnic Rohingyas who chose to escape through the border into Bangladesh.

In a statement via Social Media, Myanmar Military Commander Min Aung Hlaing on Friday (25/8) admitted the deaths of dozens of his members and Rohingya militants. Myanmar's security forces officially named Rohingya militants as Bengali Terrorists. Meanwhile, Bangladesh on   Monday (29/8) reportedly offered  a joint military operation with Myanmar to confront the Rohingya militants. Myanmar has not provided an answer to Dhakka's offer.

Who are these Bengali Terrorists? They are an unknown militant group which attacked security posts last year and left nine policemen dead. Calling itself Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the group later admitted its members clashed with the Myanmar military. They accused the Myanmar army of atrocity  in North Rakhine. On the other hand, Myanmar says the group is led by jihadists who have been trained abroad.

The situation in Myanmar is currently split by religious sentiments about Rohingyas who are not considered citizens. The authorities call the Rohingyas Muslim minority as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Tensions escalate with the occurrence of a series of killings in remote areas. The leader of the world's Catholics, Pope Francis seeks to create peace by visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh.

It is hoped that the conflict in Rakhine can be resolved through a political forum by Myanmar itself. However, it will be difficult to realize if the Rohingyas are still considered as illegal immigrants. ASEAN as a regional organization should be able to mediate so that this issue does not continue. The role of Indonesia as a fellow ASEAN member also needs to be played to resolve the conflict in Myanmar.

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