The UN Security Council met yesterday to discuss Myanmar.
Britain, one of the five permanent council members, had requested specially for the meeting where it expressed “concern about refugees risking perilous boat journeys in the Bay of Bengal where a regional solution is essential”.
Rohingya boats floating in the Bay of Bengal have been rescued by Bangladesh. They had been making their way to Malaysia.
The UK said the Covid-19 pandemic presently “puts vulnerable populations at risk of a humanitarian emergency, especially refugees, IDPs [internally displaced persons], and the Rohingya community who face additional restrictions”.
The British government further said ”a regional solution is essential”. Countries in the ”region” are of course Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia and our other Asean neighbours.
The UK expects one of us (regional countries) to provide the “solution” to the humanitarian emergency now plaguing the Rohingya. The first positive cases for the coronavirus have just been detected in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp.
Correct foreign policy of Asian countries in response to the whites
Myanmar has only 181 cases of Covid-19 and six deaths as of today. Allowing a fresh influx of Rohingya would introduce a sudden and big public health risk to the Burmese.
Bangladesh meanwhile is already hosting 1.1 million Rohingya on humanitarian grounds. This despite it “being a developing country with limited resources,” said the country’s Foreign Minister Abdul Kalam Abdul Momen.
Abdul Kalam instead proposed for the UK to rescue and shelter the Rohingya refugees, starting with the five hundred refugees Britain is most concerned about — who had been “risking perilous boat journeys in the Bay of Bengal“ (verbatim quote as per the British security council communiqué issued yesterday).
Bangladesh‘s clearly fed-up minister added that “Britain itself can send a Royal Navy ship”.
BELOW: ‘Britain can shelter Rohingya if it is so concerned, the Bangladesh foreign minister suggests’
Correct policy of M’sia in response to the virtue signalers
Malaysia today announced Operasi Benteng to tighten security at our national borders as well as step up marine patrol of our territorial waters.
Malaysian Armed Forces chief General Affendi Buang said the military will not be allowing any PATI to enter the country illegally.
For its own security reasons, the UK is currently airlifting Brits home from Bangladesh through charter flights departing Dhaka (Bangladesh’s capital city) for London.
Since the British government is currently doing this airlift, Rohingya boat people should also be put on board on the planes flying from Dhaka to London. Concerned Britain needs to be proactive with regard to the refugees rather than pushing ”a regional solution” that places the onus on countries in the region like us to provide asylum.
After all, it was British colonialism that created the Rohingya population problem in Rakhine.
BELOW: Robert C. Dickson, the British High Commissioner in Bangladesh tweeting about the airlift
Rohingya were called ‘Bengalis’ during the colonial period and brought into Burma by the British, Myanmar’s top general Min Aung Hlaing told American Ambassador Scot Marciel at the height of the 2017 crisis in Rakhine.
The whole of Burma had came under British control by 1886. The migration of Bengali Muslims, however, had started earlier in 1869 following the opening of the Suez Canal which shortened the maritime trade route and facilitated British commerce.
By the turn of the century, native Arakanese were already being pushed out of Arakan by the steady wave of Chittagonian immigration, as noted by Robert Smart in 1917’s Gazetteer on Akyab District.
Burmese Ambassador to the United Nations U Hau Do Suan wrote in a letter dated 28 Oct 2019:
“The issue of Rakhine State is one of the colonial legacies. Myanmar was a British colony for over one hundred years. During this period, the colonial power transferred hundreds of thousands of civilians mostly from British India (Chittagong region of present-day Bangladesh) to then Burma (Rakhine State) to propel the rapidly expanding rice production and export. In 1927 alone, there were more than 480,000 such transfers into occupied colonial Burma. The British census of 1872 reported 58,255 Muslims in Akyab District (modern Sittwe). By 1911, the Muslim population had increased to 178,647. The waves of migration were primarily due to the requirement of cheap labour from British India to work in the paddy fields in Rakhine State. It was obvious that immigrants from Bengal, mainly from the Chittagong region had regularly moved en masse into western townships of Arakan during the British colonial period.”
By the ambassador’s account above, the Muslim population in Akyab (today called Sittwe, the town that is the capital of Rakhine) had tripled in a period of less than forty years.
According to the 1921 census taken by the British in Burma, the population of Arakan (today called Rakhine) was 909,246. Of these, a total of 206,990 were Indian – see table above – or 22.7 percent of the Arakanese population. The British had enumerated Hindus and Bengali Muslims as ‘Indian’.
The term ‘Rohingya’ was never in use back then. British colonial records refer to the Rohingya as “Chittagonians”, named after their district of origin — Chittagong in Bengal.
In Burma’s 1931 census, Indians made up 33 percent of the population in the Akyab district. The British brought these Indians into Arakan or otherwise encouraged this free-flowing immigration to boost rice planting for the export market.
Although the easy coming-and-going of the Chittagonians was, to the British, merely a matter of shifting dispensable populations from one part of her colonial dominions to another, the Burmese natives became unsettled enough to warrant the Baxter Report published in October 1940.
James Baxter, together with one Burmese accessor and one Indian accessor, was tasked by the government of Burma to form a commission to look into the Indian immigration problem.
A problem as surely created by the British in Burma, same like the demographic mess left behind by them in Malaya.