The fate of the Rohingya may be in the Arakan Army’s hands

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In precocious May, reports emerged that tens of thousands of Rohingya person been forced to fly their homes successful nan townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, bluish Rakhine State.

The United Nations said it had collected witnesser testimonies astir nan killings of Rohingya civilians and nan systematic torching of homes. It indicated that these crimes started aft nan Myanmar subject withdrew from these townships and nan rebel Arakan Army (AA) advanced.

If it is proven that AA was responsible, this would not bode good for nan early of nan Rohingya community. As a awesome unit successful nan Brotherhood Alliance, a conjugation of rebel forces fighting Myanmar’s junta, nan AA has made sizeable advances successful Rakhine State. If nan rebels prevail, nan AA would person important power complete nan region’s affairs, including immoderate decisions regarding nan repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

Involvement successful atrocities against nan Rohingya would mean that nan AA’s rhetoric astir upholding this Muslim community’s authorities does not clasp water. That is why nan world organization needs to return action if it wishes to spot nan Rohingya exile situation resolved.

A history of tensions

Since Burma (Myanmar’s aged name) gained independency from Britain successful 1948, various taste groups person sought territorial independency aliases accrued location autonomy, challenging nan power of nan Bamar taste group successful nan country’s governance.

The military’s seizure of powerfulness successful 1962 intensified persecution against these groups, prompting equipped resistance. Today, contempt being labelled “separatists” aliases “insurgent groups” by nan subject junta, these groups are starring a struggle against nan junta that is wide seen arsenic a “fight for democracy”.

The AA was established successful April 2009 successful nan separator area betwixt Myanmar and China. It was overwhelmingly supported by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) which trained AA’s first recruits in Kachin State.

The AA’s declared nonsubjective was “the struggle for nationalist liberation and nan restoration of Arakan sovereignty to nan group of Arakan”.

Before 2017, nan Rohingya and nan AA did not person a comfortable narration fto unsocial adjacent ties. While some occasionally faced atrocities and crackdowns by Myanmar’s information forces nether nan pretext of counterinsurgency operations, they hardly collaborated.

The Rohingya harboured important mistrust towards nan AA, chiefly owed to nan Muslim-Buddhist belief disagreement successful Rakhine state. Predominantly Muslim, nan Rohingya position nan mostly Buddhist AA arsenic portion of nan ascendant Bamar community. This relation has led immoderate Rohingya I person interviewed to impeach nan AA of engagement successful nan 2017 genocidal run by nan Myanmar army.

The AA, for its part, mostly accepted nan Myanmar government’s communicative that nan Rohingya are migrants and do not beryllium successful nan country.

Post-coup rhetoric

In 2021, nan Myanmar subject seized powerfulness again successful a coup, triggering wide protests and monolithic mobilisation of equipped guidance forces. The Three Brotherhood Alliance, which was formed successful 2019, allied itself pinch nan civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and became nan biggest rebel unit challenging nan junta. It is fighting broadside by broadside pinch nan People’s Defence Force (PDF), NUG’s equipped wing.

In October 2023, nan confederation launched Operation 1027 and quickly precocious against nan Myanmar equipped forces successful respective states.

Seeking world legitimacy and support from section communities, nan AA has tried to entreaty to nan Rohingya, affirming that it recognises nan quality and citizenship authorities of each residents of Rakhine State. However, moreover earlier nan attacks successful May, past statements by immoderate of its leaders formed a protector of uncertainty complete this rhetoric.

In a 2022 interview pinch Asia Times, AA leader Major General Twan Mrat Naing said: “We recognise nan quality authorities and citizenship authorities of each residents of Arakan (Rakhine), but a monolithic repatriation of refugees successful nan existent business could unleash a caller activity of unrest.”

He besides raised questions astir nan Rohingya identity, saying that “A awesome rumor for astir Arakanese would besides beryllium nan sanction pinch which nan refugees would want to beryllium identified. ‘Rohingya’ is not a word that astir Arakanese accept. They find it violative arsenic they consciousness that it deprives them of their history.”

Such statements uncover that nan AA activity has not renounced nan communicative that nan Rohingya are “illegal Bengali migrants”.

The junta has sought to utilization nan intercommunal tensions betwixt nan Rohingya and nan Buddhist Rakhine. It has engaged successful forced recruitment among nan Rohingya and pressured communities to shape anti-AA demonstrations. Rohingya recruits person been utilized to onslaught Buddhist communities, fuelling anger.

According to one report, nan attacks successful precocious May were revenge by nan AA for alleged Rohingya involvement successful akin attacks successful April connected Buddhist communities.

Securing Rohingya rights

Many judge that if nan subject dictatorship falls and populist resumes, nan Rohingya will beryllium allowed to spell backmost to their homes, arsenic Myanmar embarks connected building an inclusive society.

While I recognise that location person been immoderate affirmative changes wrong nan pro-democracy governmental leadership, nether nan existent circumstances, I stay sceptical astir their expertise and willingness to transportation retired Rohingya repatriation.

The NUG has recognised the Rohingya personality and already appointed a noted Rohingya activist, U Aung Kyaw Moe, as deputy minister in its Ministry of Human Rights. But it seems to me, these actions are conscionable showmanship and are aimed astatine securing world support and nickname for nan NUG.

What’s more, equipped groups for illustration nan AA will inevitably play a important domiciled successful managing nan business successful Rakhine state. Their affirmative rhetoric towards nan Rohingya is moreover little convincing, fixed nan latest reports of attacks connected nan community.

Recognising these realities, Rohingya diaspora leaders are urging nan Rohingya people, “to merge and shape their ain unit tin of joining nan national service and nan People’s Defense Force (PDF) … to initiate meaningful governmental dialogues pinch nan AA, nan National Unity Government (NUG), and different taste equipped organizations (EAOs) to guarantee nickname of Rohingya ethnicity and national rights”.

If nan world organization wants to lick nan Rohingya exile crisis, past it needs to play its portion arsenic well.

It should make its support for and nickname of nan NUG conditional connected rigorous guarantees for nan repatriation of Rohingya refugees domiciled successful Bangladesh and elsewhere. It should besides request that nan NUG activity discuss pinch nan AA and guarantee nan information of nan Rohingya presently surviving successful nan Rakhine State.

As things guidelines now, unless location is accordant unit applied from outside, nan prospects for Rohingya repatriation stay bleak.

The views expressed successful this article are nan author’s ain and do not needfully bespeakJazeera’s editorial stance.


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