End statelessness of Rohingyas: Mahathir


Desk report, July 28: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for ending the statelessness of the Rohingyas, suggesting that they should either be treated as Myanmar citizens or be given their own state.

Mahathir Mohamad

Buddhist-majority Myanmar denies citizenship to the Rohingyas despite having lived in the country for generations and calls them ‘Bangalis’, to imply that they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“They (the Rohingyas) should either be treated as nationals, or they should be given their territory to form their own state,” Mahathir told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency in Ankara on Thursday.

The Malaysian prime minister has been critical of Myanmar for its treatment of the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority.

“In this case, massacre or genocide is involved and Malaysia is against genocide and the unfair treatment of the citizens of Myanmar,” he said.

State-sponsored discrimination against the minority stretches back decades. Many of them are denied basic rights and forced to live in squalid camps in apartheid-like condition.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh after the military launched a brutal offensive targeting them in late August 2017.

The refugees and rights groups accused the military and their local collaborators of killing, rape, torture, arson and loot. Myanmar denies the charges.

Former top UN human rights official had described Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingyas as “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Bangladesh is currently hosting about 1.2 million Rohingyas. Although Dhaka and Nay Pyi Taw have signed a repatriation deal, there has been no visible progress.