Six years after more than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced out of Myanmar by its genocidal government and military, they still live in a state of limbo. Rohingya refugees are scattered throughout Asia, with most seeking safety in Bangladesh, but everywhere they have had to face constant discrimination and threat of deportation. In fact, according to some estimates a total of 900,000 Rohingya are said to be living in squalid camps in Bangladesh with few facilities and fewer chances of returning home. Things became even worse after two rival Rohingya groups, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, emerged — both locked in a bitter battle against each other. The latest manifestation of this took place last week when at least five Rohingya, apparently all members of the ARSA, were killed in a clash with the RSO. This came hours after the murder of Ebadullah, a community leader at the camp, by ARSA members. It was also soon after a visit by an official of the International Criminal Court, attempting to ascertain what war crimes have been committed while the Rohingya and their supporters across the globe seek a solution to the problem.
Such violence between the two rival groups from the same community is unlikely to help matters and will undoubtedly hurt the Rohingya cause and defeat any attempt to put up a united voice. The current situation makes it all the more imperative that the suffering of the Rohingya people be ended or at the very least significantly eased. This would mean more help from the international community as well as senior Rohingya leaders. The question is how to solve the problem with Myanmar’s military dictatorship reluctant to even discuss the Rohingya problem. Support for the anti-Rohingya camp from former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Ki has simply worsened the problem as well as reducing her stature in the eyes of the world as a person of humanity and justice. The Rohingya need a united leadership able to end their differences and unite factions. This will help them both at the ICC and in front of the international community which has been struggling at least to some degree to solve the Rohingya problem and end the discrimination based on religion and ethnicity against a stateless people who face violence and discrimination wherever they go. The international community seems more interested in using them as a bargaining chip than ensuring they are protected in their host countries. The plight of the Rohingya people should put the world to shame. Instead, there are few listening, and even fewer who want to act on their behalf.