This article is an account on how the internationally-sustained discourse of ‘democratic transition’ is masking the complexity of the politics of identity and exclusion pertaining to the ‘Rohingyas’. The ‘Rohingya issue’ is enshrouded in an atmosphere of mistrust and antagonism that makes it very difficult for any external and insider peacebuilders to build bridges between conflicting interests and views. Against this background, this article claims not to provide a ‘neutral’ assessment of the matter at stake, but rather to identify some major factors contributing to the complex web of problems in which the affected people are caught.
Taking a historical approach of presenting past events together with current debates and developments, this article provides insights into the interrelated historical threads leading to the present. A key argument is that the dynamics of this long-running conflict have been sharpened by almost everything happening in Myanmar today being seen in terms of how to build up a ‘genuine democracy’ after decades of military rule. The article also foregrounds the mutual fear of being marginalised or even extinguished both by Muslim and Buddhist communities in the conflict region.
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