One of the most buzzing issues hitting Myanmar these days is riots broken up in Rakhine state between so-called “Rohingya” community and local Rahkine people. Foreign media pictures this event as sectarian violence and promoting it as human right issue. On the other hand, local people see this as an insult by uninvited guests who settled here by crossing border illegally. Whichever side you stand for, at the end of the day the government and practical men with balanced views have to find a solution that strikes the balance between respecting the sovereignty of a nation and human rights.
With regards to “Rohingya” issue, we should not continue arguing based on mere hearsay and one-sided information. Nowadays, people are writing about this issue with what they already believed in and thus gathering only the information that support their existing belief. It is a shame in finding the solution that way. We should ask ourselves David Hume’s “How do we know?” question several times.
Following are steps we can take in solving this crisis.
1. Law and order – Bring the law and order, stop any riot and violence, which the government is already doing and the good news is that things are now somewhat back to normal.
2. Fact findings – Verify the legal status of Rohingya people under the existing immigration law, through an independent observers and investigators using objective and fair methodologies. This process shall not be influenced by blindly nationalist politics and special interests of ideological human right activists.
3. Actions after investigation – After independent investigation, for those Rohingyas who are illegal residents their origin country must be negotiated to take back their people or the international community should take the responsibility of settling them elsewhere in third countries, rather than playing blame game on Myanmar by rendering this as purely human right issue. For those who are found to be legal residents according to the existing laws, Myanmar government should let them stay in Myanmar with full rights guaranteed by the existing laws.
4. Legal Reform – If the international community thinks that the existing immigration laws in Myanmar is not somewhat acceptable, they can urge the MPs in Myanmar parliament to work on immigration law reform. But they must acknowledge that nobody can force a nation on what laws to act and it is purely the legitimate rights of a sovereign nation and only the people of the country can decide what laws they will practice. By that time, the international community should stop rendering Rohingya issue as human right issue or sectarian violence.
On my personal note, of course, sectarian violence is immediate cause. Long-term cause is something more complicated. We should be aware that neighboring country is highly over populated and Myanmar’s immigration system is broken due to lack of capacity to manage her borders properly and corruption. Thus, it will encourage illegal border crossing and population fill-over effects. Rather than arguing blindly and dramatizing the event, we should find out the facts!.