Ye Htut, spokesman for the President’s Office, told DVB on Monday that the Burmese Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to summon the Bangladeshi ambassador to object to an article in the Dhaka Tribune which opined that Burma’s Rohingyas be offered a referendum on whether to secede from the Union.
“We will never allow such damage to the sovereignty and territory of our country,” Ye Htut said. “Therefore we will object to this kind of writing. We will also monitor our own country to ensure the same situation is not replicated.”
Written as an op-ed by journalist Zasheen Khan, the Dhaka Tribune article draws upon the recent precedence of Crimea to suggest that the Rohingyas “should have the option of forming an independent country between Bangladesh and Myanmar [Burma], unfeasible as that might be, its incorporation into Bangladesh should not be taken off the table if such an opportunity ever presents itself.”
The author does not quote any Bangladeshi government source, nor a Rohingya, to corroborate any support for his proposition, relying instead on allegations of persecution of the Rohingya community in Burma, selected historical tidbits, and some miscellaneous international precedents to outline his case.
Despite the inefficacy of the argument presented, the article immediately caused a stir on social media sites among Burmese and Bangladeshis. Even Rohingya commentators weighed in, expressing displeasure and contempt for any notion of autonomy or secession from Burma for the Rohingya Muslim community in Arakan State.
Outspoken Nay San Lwin of the website Rohingya Blogger called the article “horrible” and said Rohingyas would never separate from Burma.
“If there was a referendum Rohingyas will say, ‘We are Burmese. We are Myanmar’s Rohingya. We are part of Myanmar and we will always be part of Myanmar’,” the blogger concluded.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s Journalists Association has also condemned the author, saying the article was written based on “fabricated and distorted historical backgrounds and facts with intent to incite religious and racial hatred and conflicts in Myanmar, violating journalistic ethics, interfering in Myanmar’s domestic affairs and infringing on Myanmar’s sovereignty.”