Based on its track record, neither the Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh nor those imprisoned in Rakhine can trust the Myanmar government
When it comes to safeguarding the rights of the Rohingya minority, Myanmar seems to have its very own definition of "protection."
A day after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Myanmar to protect the Rohingyas, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy told Reuters they had already put in place measures to "protect" them.
One glaring example of this "protection" are the over one lakh Rohingyas languishing in camps in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, since June 2012. The entire area is fenced off and the entrances are guarded by security forces.
The inhabitants are forbidden from travelling outside the camps for their own "safety."
In her book One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, journalist Andrea Pitzer writes that the "Rohingya population throughout the region was loaded onto buses and trucks and dropped off on the outskirts of their hometowns… eventually ending up" in the camps.
Christopher Sidoti, a member of the United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission into crimes against the Rohingya, likened the conditions in the camps to those endured by the Jewish people under the Nazis.
Speaking to the Voice of America News, camp resident Maw Mura described "living in the camp is like living in a prison or a chicken coop."
But this sort of persecution dates way back, when the Myanmar government cut off full citizenship for the Rohingyas in 1982.
In the most recent example of "protection," its security forces drove out 740,000 Rohingyas during "clearance operations," in August 2017.
Based on Myanmar's track record, neither the Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh nor those imprisoned in Rakhine can trust the government. The tale of those rotting in the camps in Sittwe indeed makes it difficult to put faith on the government of Myanmar.
This leaves the UN with very few options, assuming it is serious about bringing an end to the reported ethnic cleansing in the Southeast Asian nation.
Perhaps it is time to send in the UN peacekeepers and create "safe zones" in Myanmar, as proposed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the UN General Assembly in September 2017.
But that would require approval from the UN Security Council – which has so far been inactive due to China discouraging any action against its Burmese allies.