Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus has called upon Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to take "immediate steps" to halt the Rakhine State violence and stem the flow of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.
"The process of peacemaking must begin without delay," he said in an article published in the Middle-East's 'The Natio-nal' newspaper, reports bdnews24.com. Yunus who is often criticized for remaining silent on Bangladesh's political issues, also put forward some ideas on how to start the peace process.
Those include implementation of the Kofi Annan commission report that asked Myanmar to give Rohignyas citizenship, and building camps within Myanmar for the returning refugees to facilitate their rehabilitation with UN financing and supervision. The Bangladesh government had also proposed these measures since the beginning of the new wave of violence on Aug 25.
So far, according to the UN, nearly 400,000 Rohignya refugees have entered Bangladesh taking the total number of such stateless population living here for decades to 800,000. Yunus asked fellow Nobel Peace prize-winner Suu Kyi to undertake a visit to the refugee camps in Bangladesh to address the terrified people living there.
"She should tell them that Myanmar is as much their home as it is hers. This single act of leadership will wash away all the suspicions and begin the process of healing," he wrote.
"The new Myanmar that Aung San Suu Kyi says she wants to build cannot have any form of discrimination on any ground, be it ethnicity, religion, language or culture. The new Myanmar must be based on human rights and the rule of law.
"This is a moment in history when she has to choose a path for her nation and for herself peace and friendship, or hatred and confrontation," he said.Yunus said the arguments that the Myanmar government is using to deny the Rohingya their citizenship are "ludicrous, to say the least".
"Today's Rakhine state was historically known as the Kingdom of Arakan. That kingdom at one time extended to include my district Chittagong in present-day Bangladesh.
"Much later, Arakan became a province of British India. History keeps drawing and redrawing borders. But people's ties to their land remain unaltered. Whichever side gains possession of their land becomes their country," continued Yunus.
"At independence from Britain in 1948, and under successive governments, Burma recognised the people of all ethnicities within its borders, including the Rohingya, as full citizens, with representation in parliament. "It was the military juntas in 1980s who redefined Burmese identity to exclude the Rohingya.
"Accordingly, they stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, and used military and political means to expel the Rohingya from the country. Thus began the systematic persecution aimed at ethnic and religious cleansing," he wrote.
Earlier, he wrote an open letter to the United Nations Security Council on Sep 4, urging immediate action to halt military attacks on innocent civilians that are forcing them to leave their homes and flee their country.
The situation inside Myanmar has fuelled the rise of armed groups of Rohingya demanding "independence" for Arakan, he said.
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