Resolve Rohingya problem without delay: Christian leaders

By Matters India Reporter

Yangon: The problem of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is a sensitive and complex issue

Christians are a tiny minority in Myanmar, but they are doing their mite to help in the Buddhist majority Southeast Asian nation, says head of the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC).

“The Rohingya Muslims problem is a because of its historical complexities inherited from British colonial times and perpetuated down the decades,” says MCC president Saw Patrick Loo Nee

He was among the few people in Myanmar who shared with Matters India their views on the Rohingya problem. Many declined to talk saying it is a “sensitive issue.”

Loo Nee says what is urgently required to find a solution to the problem without blaming anyone in the past or the present.

“Christians in Myanmar are trying to ease the problem in a informal and discreet way such as sending relief,” he said.

He said one cannot imagine how the Rohingya people suffering the pain at this juncture, especially women and children. “We are aware our help to Rohingya is not even a drop of an ocean, so we continue to pray for them.“

Zau Lat, general secretary of Myanmar Baptist Convention, says Christians want the stakeholders to address the crises and find solutions, before it is too late. “That will prevent further loss of lives and reduce the the gravity of suffering drastically, said.

Another Christian youth leader, Lal Than Cuang, said the solution to the Rohingya problem is overdue. It has to be addressed with grit and grace by the national government with international support, he added.

No No Yatanar, a Buddhist young professional, says the Rohingya case has projected Myanmar in bad light internationally. “The need of the hour is to stop violence against them and provide relief and rehabilitation with due understanding, patience. Their dignity and identity and rights must be restored.”

The plight of the Rohingya is a long standing issue. They number about 1 million and live in Rakhine state, which has a total population of 3.2 million, the majority of whom are ethnic Rakhine and Buddhists. The Rohingya have a long history of migration that stretches back 200-300 years when they began moving from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

They have been moving back and forth as neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh wants to grant them citizenship making them a kind of stateless people. Both countries are not so willing to talk about it for decades.

When the military junta ruled Myanmar, it exploited such ethnic clashes all over the country. It repressed the Rohingya in 1978 and in the 1990s and drove many into Bangladesh. Following the outbreak of more violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012, the tension has grown over the years especially in recent months drawing international attention and criticism.

According to the government and UN data of 2016, Myanmar has 88.9 percent Buddhists, 6.3 percent Christians, 2.3 percent Muslims, 0.5 percent Hindus, 0.8 percent Animists, 0.2 percent others (Sikhs, Confucians, Bahá’í Faith, and Zoroastrians) and 0.11 percent no religion.

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