Some would possibly discover it odd that Myanmar’s army, the Tatmadaw, ousted Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup d’etat. After all, how usually does a Nobel Peace Prize laureate defend a genocidal army marketing campaign towards the Rohingya earlier than the International Criminal Court at The Hague?
For the Tatmadaw, the drubbing that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy inflicted on its Union Solidarity and Development Party within the November 2020 elections was not only a humiliation, however an existential risk. The NLD received 86 p.c of all contested seats within the two chambers of parliament. The USDP received solely 5 p.c.
Even with the army’s constitutionally allotted 25 p.c of parliamentary seats, Suu Kyi was getting perilously near having the three-quarters of whole seats wanted to hunt a referendum to amend the structure and strip it of provisions that enshrine the army’s political function.
In launching the coup, the army introduced that it might maintain onto energy for a yr earlier than relinquishing it to a civilian authorities. That appears unlikely. We can in all probability anticipate a scenario just like what occurred in Thailand after the 2014 coup, as Gen. Min Aung Hlaing angles for the presidency in a distinctly minority authorities.
The coup additionally can have unfavorable repercussions for the stateless Rohingya.
Democracy in Myanmar wasn’t nice for the Rohingya. The releasing of the press opened the best way for hate speech, and there have been few votes in defending the broadly reviled ethnic minority. Recall that the November election was not held in elements of Rakhine state because of the two insurgencies there.
So what does the coup d’etat imply for the Rohingya?
More than 1 million Rohingya refugees reside in squalid camps in Bangladesh. This is an intractable scenario. As unlikely because it was that Suu Kyi’s civilian authorities would have allowed the return of the Rohingya en masse, any return now could be all however inconceivable to foresee within the brief time period.
Repatriation talks have been drawn out and the few agreements in precept haven’t been carried out. Two rounds of repatriation talks – in November 2018 and August 2019 – broke down. A mere 460 refugees had been returned between 2018 and late 2020. Myanmar appeared keen to simply accept the return of a mere 550 Hindu Rohingya, however Bangladesh fears that’s the place the repatriation stops in the event that they agree.
The Myanmar authorities refused to grant the Rohingya returnees citizenship, residency rights, or different authorized protections. Satellite photographs have proven that the army has been setting up camps within the Rohingya villages they razed.
At the identical time, it’s naive to assume that Suu Kyi’s NLD authorities would have accelerated the return of the Rohingya.
The hyper nationalistic National League for Democracy is the dominant social gathering representing the pursuits of ethnic Burmans, who comprise 68 p.c of the populace.
Most Burmans ascribed to the Tatmadaw’s line that the Rohingya haven’t any authorized declare to citizenship and that they’re unlawful Bengali immigrants. Suu Kyi had proven little curiosity in countering that narrative. She publicly whitewashed ethnic cleaning and proof of widespread rape of Rohingya girls.
Her authorities did categorical some willingness to take again extra refugees in November 2020. The NLD was coy about their intentions to amend the 1982 Citizenship Law, having prioritized different constitutional amendments.
A third repatriation assembly was held in January 2021, however little got here from it. Bangladesh accused Myanmar of failing to expedite the safety vetting, whereas Myanmar rejected Bangladesh’s name for a village-by-village return.
With the coup, it’s unclear when and if these talks will resume. Bangladesh appears resigned for a protracted stalemate and continues their phased resettlement of 100,000 refugees to the low-lying island of Bhashan Char.
While the Tatmadaw might proceed to permit handfuls of refugees to return, they are going to be cantoned in camps. Myanmar’s authorities has been issuing those that returned National Verification Cards, which outline them as “stateless,” however it’s unclear whether or not it authorizes them a path to citizenship or affords different authorized protections.
For the Rohingya residing within the camps, their sense of hopelessness will solely develop. That is nice information for militants such because the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which advantages from their folks’s despair. Membership in armed teams affords a level of safety and entry to scarce sources.
If the junta is much more intransigent in negotiating the return of the refugees, then Bangladesh has few palatable options. There is restricted bilateral commerce. The junta is already diplomatically remoted and resilient to exterior strain.
Which leaves one device that Dhaka has so far appeared reluctant to make use of: the covert arming – straight or not directly – of teams corresponding to ARSA and the higher armed and geared up Arakan Army. This entails dangers for Bangladesh, most significantly the Tatmadaw’s whole cessation of repatriation talks.
It appears unlikely that the Tatmadaw will resume repatriation talks to be able to salvage their worldwide repute and get some sanctions lifted. The senior army management has already factored within the diplomatic prices of their coup.
They are a regime that’s completely impervious to worldwide criticism of their human rights report. The senior leaders are already beneath sanctions, and the nation is awash in dragon cash. They have calculated that international locations corresponding to China will assist them evade sanctions, and that ASEAN is not going to push them.
The army is prone to flip to among the extra rabid monks, corresponding to Wirathu, and the virulently anti-Muslim Ma Ba Tha group to legitimize their energy seize. Much of the Buddhist clergy is prone to aspect with the general public as anti-military resistance mounts.
But onerous line clergy may even see this as a chance. They may leverage their assist for the regime to stop any extra repatriation of the Rohingya in addition to foment crackdowns towards different Muslim and spiritual minorities.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated on-line information service.