May 29, 2015

Burma Briefing No. 38

As thousands of Rohingya refugees from Burma lie starving in boats off the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, this commentary looks at the root causes of the crisis.

Attention is rightly focussed on these countries for refusing to accept these refugees, and on the traffickers who abandoned them there. These countries must allow the boats to land and give sanctuary to Rohingya refugees. Action also needs to be taken against traffickers and the authorities which co-operate with them.

However, without tackling the root causes of this crisis, Burma’s persecution of the Rohingya, there will be no long term solution.

The simple truth is that the government of Burma has a policy of trying to drive the Rohingya out of the country. Boat loads of trafficked Rohingya heading for other countries are exactly what they want to see. For President Thein Sein, this is a policy success.

Although President Thein Sein has been praised as a courageous reformer by much of the international community, since becoming President he has significantly stepped up repression of the Rohingya.

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