A broader lens on Myanmar's problems

A Rohingya refugee in Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Shelters, temporary housing and other amenities are being prepared for Rohingya who may wish to return to Rakhine. Larger Myanmar businesses have also contributed to infra
A Rohingya refugee in Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Shelters, temporary housing and other amenities are being prepared for Rohingya who may wish to return to Rakhine. Larger Myanmar businesses have also contributed to infrastructure development in the state.PHOTO: REUTERS

It seems so long ago that people talked about Myanmar in terms of a triumph of democracy and a "frontier economy" of golden promise. Current headlines about the country instead focus overwhelmingly on a single issue, and very negatively. That issue concerns the minority Muslims in Rakhine state whom many foreigners - but almost none inside the country - call "Rohingya".

Reports estimate that more than 700,000 Rohingya have crossed the border to Bangladesh. There is little doubt that the most recent wave of this exodus was triggered by a crackdown led by the military, which claims it was reacting to terrorist attacks by separatist groups embedded in the villages. Acts of violence have created an atmosphere of distrust and reprisals between communities.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'A broader lens on Myanmar's problems'. Subscribe