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Union Immigration Minister Khin Yi rejected a call from the United Nations’ to investigate the unfair treatment of the Rohingya by security forces following the rioting in western Burma during a press conference where government officials discussed the ongoing unrest in Arakan state.
“If you think about it, it’s just a fight between the Bengali people who lived in the country over time and the Arakanese people – brothers who live in the same house,” said Khin Yi, according to Popular Myanmar News Journal.
“This is just a regional but not an international issue. This is to be solved bilaterally between Myanmar [Burma] and Bangladesh. So I don’t think the government will accept the call to open an inquiry as if this were an international issue.”
Khin Yi went on to say that the country’s Rohingya population would not be included in Burma’s 2014 nationwide census.
According to a report from Popular Myanmar News Journal, when questioned by Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Burma Major General Anup Kumar Chakma whether the Rohingyas are among Burma’s 135 ethnic nationalities, the minister dismissed the notion and stated the group arrived in Burma after the first Anglo-Burmese War in 1824, thus voiding them of such distinction.
The immigration minister’s comments were made in front of visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana, who travelled to Arakan state today.
About 200 locals in northern Arakan state’s Maungdaw staged a peaceful protest ahead of the visit from the UN envoy.
Quintana headed into Maungdaw township after he landed in the area at 1:30pm today where residents rallied at Thazin Guest House, which was torched when rioting kicked off in early June.
“The protesters are peacefully expressing themselves holding placards that read: ‘Respect the President’s Decision’, ‘Respect the ethnic people’s rights’, ‘Respect Burma sovereignty’,” said a bystander who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Burmese government has been inundated as of late with a deluge of criticisms from INGOS and fellow ASEAN member state Indonesia over the country’s handling of the Rohingya issue.
“We must highlight, again, that Indonesia has consistently rejected discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or any other reason,” said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, according to the Jakarta Globe.
“Our stance also applies to the ongoing attacks against the Rohingya in Myanmar [Burma].”
In the New Light of Myanmar on Tuesday, the government published an announcement echoing the Immigration Minister’s sentiment: “In light of the true circumstances and situation, Myanmar totally rejects the attempts by some quarters to politicize and internationalize this situation as a religious issue.”
“There has been growing trend towards the emergence of democracy worldwide whose universal essence is of freedom, transparency, social justice and equality in the context of human rights protection and promotion,” read another announcement in a page two editorial in Tuesday’s edition of the government mouthpiece.
“However, the survivability of a nation is far more important than democracy for no democracy thrives on the soil of a country that has lost unity, independence and sovereignty, in other words, a failed state.”
-Aye Nai contributed additional reporting to this article.