Arakan or the Rohingya Muslims were perhaps not heard by most of us until recently. We became aware of them and the grave tragedy after August 25, 2017 when more than 500 thousand people took refuge in Bangladesh.
Perhaps it is necessary to discuss geography to understand where Arakan is situated. Arakan is one of the seven provinces of Myanmar. Myanmar is a country surrounded by Thailand, Laos, China, India, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. Arakan is the strategic region all along the coast of Myanmar…
It is said that İslam was spread in Arakan through the surviving Muslim traders of a sunk ship in the Bay of Bengal. Like Moro Muslims Arakan Muslims lived under their own sultanate for long centuries. They came under the occupation of England in 1885 by virtue of the expansionist policies of the Western Imperialist countries. As a reminder of a Native American saying “If two fish are fighting in a river, know that a long legged Britisher has passed from there a little ago” the problem increased even more after Myanmar gained its independence in 1948. After grabbing power with a military coup in 1962 General NE Win changed country’s name from Burma to Myanmar. During the single party republican rule all kind of state policies were implemented to drive Muslims from their homeland. The inhumane attacks of the extremist Budhists too should not be forgotten during the 969 Movement.
From whatever angle you look at it, the point reached after long decades, it is virtually not a gap but a mother bloodshed full of pain, tears, exile and blood.
To draw attention towards the Arakan issue we had held a panel at Yıldırım Beyazit University Faculty of Political Sciences with the participation of European Rohingya Council President and Ministry of Foreign Affair Deputy Undersecretary Ümit Yardım. Our guest from the Netherlands was using two names. La Jo, and Muhammed Hubeyb. If you would ask why, the situation was showing the real picture. Everyone has to use a Myanmarese name apart from his/her real name to avoid discrimination in Myanmar. We are aware of this situation from the actions of Bulgaria against the Turks in the 1980’s and even from the changing of the tombstones.
Yes, there is a grave scourge and torment. However, if we are breathing it means there is hope. For this reason, it is necessary to talk about solutions too.
- To establish international pressure over Myanmar: If we are talking about oppression and tyranny and not right and justice, this kind of tyrants can only be stopped by force. Therefore, all means should be used for enabling establishment of more pressure of the International community over Myanmar. This method can be redeemed more by the states and international organizations.
- International solution group: An international crisis and solution group like the MINSK Group in Ukraine can be established for the solution of the problem. We know that China and India are not a part of a solution but the part of the problem there. Despite that, they should also be made a part of the process if possible to find a solution to the problem. This solution group must enable a healthy return of the people of Arakan to their country and must guarantee their rights to live after they return.
- To internationalize cruelty, oppression and violation of human rights in Arakan: Just like the Syrian Kurds the people of Arakan still do not have even their official identities. Without having an official status, it is impossible to have even a solution to fundamental necessities like education and health. The civil societies and volunteer institutions from all over the World can take these violations to the agenda either in the countries they are active or to the international platforms. They can begin legal procedures. It will be very deterring to achieve results in the lawsuits against the State and/or military officials within their respective countries.
- To help Bangladesh: Already in a troublesome situation, Bangladesh should not be left alone in helping hundreds of thousands of more people.
- To give priority to Strategic institutions. Just as during the Myanmar oppression wherever it is needed Turkey has been providing all kind of support through Disaster and Emergency Management AFAD, Turkish Red Crescent Society Kızılay, Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency TİKA, Humanitarian Relief Foundation İHH and other Civil Society Institutions. However, besides being very valuable and urgent, it is not sufficient to focus only on humanitarian assistance. The centers generating strategic solutions, not general but customized think tanks are equally valuable.
- To establish a permanent international crisis group guided by Turkey.
- To build up global awareness. Just like the Jerusalem issue, the Arakan problem is not the problem in which only the Muslims are a side. Establishing an international awareness in this kind of matters is extremely important. From this standpoint, the visit of the Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan was very meaningful. Wherever in the World they are, our readers and listeners can actively particiapte in the awareness building activities.
As a Turkish poet said, “Sometimes many things change with a single change.” “Mediterranean is made with a climate change.” Don’t stop. Share the pain. So that tears of the oppressed are decreased. May the beautiful children of Arakan could see the future with more hope and not the fear.
-Prof. Dr. Kudret BÜLBÜL, Dean Faculty of Political Sciences at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazı