This two teenagers, a Muslim girl named
This memo provides an overview of the screening of the movie”Sittwe” and the following panel discussion on the ongoing violence against theRohingya people in Myanmar held on November 1, 2017.
The event was organized by the American JewishWorld Service (AJWS) in collaboration with the National Endowment forDemocracy. BackgroundThe Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar’s RakhineState, thought to number about one million people. The Burmese government does not recognizethem as citizens, or as one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups living in thecountry. According to Human RightsWatch, national Burmese laws discriminate against the Rohingya, “infringing ontheir freedom of movement, education, and employment.” “Sittwe” is a short documentary about two teenagers affectedby conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Thefilm revolves around interviews with two teenagers, a Muslim girl named PhyuPhyu Than and a Buddhist boy named Aung Khan Myint conducted over two years. Both teenagers saw their homes burned downduring mutual Buddhist-Muslim violence thaterupted in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, in 2012. Each shares their views about the conflict,their limited and segregated primary education system, and the possibility tomend a deeply divided society.
The filmwas banned from premiering at the Human Rights, Human Dignity InternationalFilm Festival in Myanmar by government censors. The three panelists discussed their thoughts on the film andwhat they believed was the best course of action to resolve this problem. The panelists included Mr. Myo Win, Executive Director of Smile Education and DevelopmentFoundation, Mr. Tun Khin, with the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, and Ms.Wai Wai Nu, with the Women Peace Network – Arakan. Analysis The panelists discussed theirdiffering opinions on what the future of the Rohingya people were.
However, they all agreed on what course ofaction they believed the United States should take. They urged the United States government, andCongress in particular, to recognize the violence against the Rohingya. However,they did not specify how they wanted this done, only suggesting the UnitedStates use any means necessary to express its disapproval of the mistreatmentof the Rohingya people by the Burmese government.
They also wanted the UnitedStates to urge the United Nations Security Council to refer Myanmar to theInternational Criminal Court (ICC) because of Myanmar’s failure to investigatemass atrocities against ethnic Rohingya. The ICC only has direct jurisdiction over crimes committed by states partyto its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and Burma is not a member; thisprevents the ICC from proactively launching an investigation into the Rohingyaconflict. Only the UN Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC forfurther criminal investigation. As apermanent member of the UN Security Council, the U.
S. would have significantinfluence. All three panelists also condemnedAung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor (akin to a Prime Minister) of Myanmar. Theyagreed that Suu Kyi needs to denounce the operations of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’smilitary) that forced more than 300,000 members of the Rohingya community toflee to Bangladesh within a two-week span in September 2017. However, if Suu Kyi doespublicly condemn the Tatmadaw, it would “lead to a kind of no-confidence votein the parliament that would remove any vestiges of authority she may have.” Because Myanmar’s constitution gives her solittle power, it would likely not make much of a difference in the treatment ofthe Rohingya.
Suu Kyi has no control over the Tatmadaw because of the 2008constitution that created a system of military supremacy over the civilgovernment. The mostfeasible path to finding a solution, the panelists agreed, would be to urge theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work with India andBangladesh to find the best solution to the problem. The government in Myanmar would need to beconvinced that it would benefit by cooperating with ASEAN members, India, andBangladesh to solve this problem. Thiswould also include discussions about helping Bangladesh support all of theRohingya refugees that they have accepted from Myanmar. Conclusion Although it is clear that there is an ongoing humanitariancrisis in Myanmar, there is no clear path to resolving the problem. Research by the Brookings Institution hasshown that the panelists’ recommendations would likely have no positive effecton the crisis, but it could possibly make things worse for the Rohingya.
Crises like this have occurred all over theworld, yet the world still has no effective solution to the problem. While no viable solution to the Rohingya Crisis has beendiscovered yet, I believe it should still be acknowledged by our government andthe search for a resolution should continue. I would also recommend that there be more focus on what can be done toprovide humanitarian assistance to affected communities in both Myanmar and Bangladeshin their effort to accept all the Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar.