Eighteen months have passed since sectarian violence pushed some 140,000 stateless Rohingyas into a series of camps around Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Myanmar. And yet the scars of the violence they suffered remain all too evident.
As Myanmar moves towards its much-awaited 2015 national elections, persecution of the Muslim minority -- Rohingyas -- is casting shadows on the prospect of restoring democracy in the country. Violence against, the destitute Rohingyas numbering less than a million in a country 52 million majority Buddhists, has brought international condemnation. Discrimination also risks arousing sectarian violence from Islamic groups with serious security implications for Myanmar and Southeast Asia. The nine bombs targeting Buddhist pilgrims in India's holiest Buddhist shrine Mahabodhi temple in Gaya on July 7, 2013 was perhaps the first such response to the Rohingya massacre but may not be the last.
As Myanmar prepares to hold general elections in 2015, with ceasefire talks between the army and ethnics scheduled for March and constitutional amendments moving through Parliament, this nation is slowly charting a new way forward.
Burma's 1982 Citizenship Law is racist, breaks Burma's treaty obligations, and so violates international law. It does not recognize Rohingya as an ethnic group in Burma. It helps render the Rohingya stateless, and helps underpin discrimination against them.
That there has been major change happening is certainly true. But much more needs to be done, and as quickly as possible in some areas. The very nature of human rights suggests (or certainly should suggest) that they are universal and irrevocable.
Where else in the world will you feel like you're in Legends of the Hidden Temple?
India views Myanmar's emerging political transformation as a strategic and ideological opening that offers New Delhi an opportunity to dilute Chinese influence while expanding India's strategic depth.
Today, the Earth got a little hotter - and more crowded. Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Feb 20 2014 How unusual has th...
There's no feeling of speed or ascension, yet you can see that you're moving. It's like standing 1,200 feet in the air, and your basket resting on an invisible people mover.
The world may be weary of stories of atrocities with constant accounts of man's inhumanity to man in the media. But recent events in Burma demand the attention and definitive action from the international community.
No, I haven't been everywhere, and some places I don't go to because I'm a conscientious objector (Zimbabwe, anyone?) but I can still dream. And plan. Because dictators, xenophobia and being broke wont last forever!
It is an appalling travesty of so-called democracy in a country that once inspired the world when it threw off military dictatorship and allowed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to enter politics after so many years under house arrest.
At this point, my beautiful global daughter (whom I've routinely bombarded with counsel on good manners and appropriate behavior) called me out for being a spoiled brat who doesn't understand Southeast Asia or grasp how good I actually have it, then threw in the clincher: why are you always losing your temper and bumming everybody out with your crap attitude over things that you can't control and won't change?
Myanmar's leaders and people deserve great credit for embracing democracy and political transition. However, further steps are needed to consolidate reforms and social progress.
Myanmar is emerging decisively from conflict, fragility, and isolation toward a prosperous and peaceful future. It is in the midst of a triple transition: from a military government to democracy, from conflict in border areas to peace, and from a state-centered to a market-oriented economy.
Whether a barbed wire fence will achieve its stated objectives of checking illegal movement of goods, arms and counterfeit Indian currency smuggling, drug trafficking, and insurgency is a question that remains to be answered.