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Will Rohingya Refugees Start Returning to Myanmar in 2018?
Will Rohingya Refugees Start Returning to Myanmar in 2018?
Smouldering debris of burned houses is seen in Warpait village, a Muslim village in Maungdaw located in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, 14 October, 2016. AFP/Ye Aung Thu
Report 283 / Asia

缅甸:若开邦新出现穆斯林动乱

近期,在流亡势力的领导下,罗兴亚士兵发起了袭击。这预示了局势的恶化。罗兴亚人对现状强烈的不满是暴力的主要根源,若要根除暴力,缅甸政府应扭转穆斯林少数民族长期受到歧视的局面、缓和其军事策略、并寻求其穆斯林盟友的援助。

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执行摘要

自2016年10月9日起的数日里,缅甸北部若开邦的边防守卫警察(BGP)便连遭恶性袭击,11月12日局势严重升级,并导致一名高级军官丧生,这均表明若凯邦新出现了穆斯林动乱。目前的暴力本质上有别于近几十年的状况,其不仅严重威胁到若开邦稳定发展的前景,还严重影响了整个缅甸。在巨大挑战之下,政府需要调整并整合其政治、政策和安全对策,确保暴力不再升级,使族群之间的紧张局势得到控制,并应适当考虑若开邦佛教徒的不满及恐慌情绪。

如无法成功控制局势,政府将面临巨大的风险。政府虽肩负着维护安全并以行动阻止攻击者的明确义务,但若要行动产生实效,政府则需更审慎地使用武力,并将重点放在政治和政策手段上。政府应首要解决民众的悲观绝望情绪,且这也是若开邦众多穆斯林愤怒的根源。而令局面复杂的则是,昂山素季虽对军队有一些影响力,但据宪法,她并不能直接控制军队。

该叛乱组织自称Harakah al-Yaqin(“坚定信仰运动”,HaY)。其由流亡于沙特阿拉伯的某罗兴亚委员会领导,地面指挥则由经过国际训练并具备现代游击战经验的当地罗兴亚人负责。该组织得益于地方和国际穆斯林教令(宗教司法意见)对其合法性的承认、和若凯邦北部穆斯林民众高度的同情和支持,并已在当地招募训练了数百名新兵。

缅甸政府虽正致力于应对在若开邦的复杂挑战,包括对穆斯林人口的长期歧视和对公民权利的剥夺及损害,但这个组织良好、看似资金充足的团体的出现却改变了局势。政府目前虽使用了大规模军事力量来应对袭击,却未能充分地区分武装分子与平民,再加之其拒绝向极弱势群体提供人道主义援助,并缺乏总体的政治战略。政府无法为民众带来希望,因此也不太可能驱逐该组织,甚之还或会造成暴力升级和民众大规模的流离失所。

若非一些地方领袖和社区的参与,坚定信仰运动也不会在当地立足并对战斗准备充分。但此地从不是激进分子的聚集区,当地大多数居民、长老及宗教领袖此前都在回避暴力手段,并认为暴力只会适得其反。而今逾多人拥护暴力行为的事实则反映出了动乱非必然,而是多年来在政策上彻底的失败。

政府强硬的安全手段违反了“同等规模反击”和“区别对待”的基本原则,这不仅有悖国际准则,而且适得其反。

政府的对策之关键应是着手于了解若凯邦部分穆斯林为何开始诉诸于暴力。当地民众已意识到其权利被不断侵蚀和践踏,并在社会和政治生活中被逐渐边缘化。自2012年若开邦出现反穆斯林暴力行动以来,矛盾愈发尖锐。穆斯林在2015年大选前被剥夺了选举权,而这也截断了他们联系和影响政治的最后的渠道。同时,马来西亚海上移民路线的中断堵住了对其至关重要的一条逃生途径,尤其对年轻人而言,他们仅此一线的希望也破碎了。正是日益增长的绝望感迫使更多人考虑暴力手段,但对政府来说,亡羊补牢,犹未晚矣——暴力趋势还尚存扭转余地。

政府首先应认识到,这些民众在该地区已生活了数辈,并将继续生活下去。因此,政府必须设法在国民生活中给他们提供一席之地。违背“同等规模反击”和“区别对待”等基本原则的强硬做法不仅有悖国际准则,且会适得其反。这样或会加剧绝望和仇恨心理,引发更多对坚定信仰运动的支持,并进一步地加剧暴力。国际经验已表明,强硬的军事行动,特别是在缺乏更广泛的政策框架的情况下,对遏制武装团体的效果甚微,并可能急剧恶化事态。

迄今为止,虽有迹象表明坚定信仰运动开展了军事训练且其组织团结,但跨国圣战主义或恐怖主义似乎还未被其提上章程。但危险的是,大规模的政府军力已经迫使成千上万的人民逃离家园或跨境进入孟加拉国,若政府处理不当,包括继续大举兴兵,那这将可能造成罗兴亚人愈发激进,而跨国圣战者则有可能乘机在缅甸推进自己的目标。为避免这种情况,政府应将其军事安全回应措施降级并纳入其详定的总体政治战略——在国家和穆斯林群体间建立更稳固、更积极的关系,并与区域各国开展更密切的合作和情报共享。

仰光/布鲁塞尔,2016年12月15日

Op-Ed / Asia

Will Rohingya Refugees Start Returning to Myanmar in 2018?

Originally published in Nikkei Asian Review

Most went back home from Bangladesh in two earlier exoduses, but this time is different.

The signing of a repatriation agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on 23 November has raised expectations — and concerns — of an imminent return of Rohingya refugees to northern Rakhine state. But the reality is that no repatriation is likely in the foreseeable future.

Many of the 700,000 Rohingya who fled over the past year would choose to return under the right circumstances — Myanmar is their home, where they have lived for generations, and they see no future for themselves and their children in the Bangladesh camps. But much would need to change.

First and foremost is physical security. This is a deeply traumatized population, many of whom suffered or witnessed acts of horrific violence. They will not be ready to return unless they are assured of their safety. This seems an unlikely prospect, given that the government and military both deny the extent of the abuses that occurred — the military exonerated itself through an internal investigation that found not a single shot had been fired at civilians and state media regularly denies allegations of abuses reported by human rights organizations and the international media. Many of the abuses, including sexual violence, were perpetrated by military-backed vigilante groups made up of non-Muslim villagers in the area, who operate with considerable impunity.

Second is the ability to sustain livelihoods. The repatriation agreement provides that people will be able to return to their places of origin. If this is allowed in practice, and they are able to reclaim their land, they fundamentally require freedom of movement, to reach their farms and fishing grounds, to go where their day labor is needed and to access markets. This requires reassurance on physical security, as well as lifting the onerous movement restrictions and curfews put in place following attacks in late 2016 and August 2017 by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army militants.

Communities in this area have always been inter-dependent, with Buddhist traders buying from Muslim farmers and fishermen, and much of the economy is dependent on Muslim labor. The apartheid-like segregation that exists in central Rakhine state and which some local politicians are advocating in the north is not economically viable — and in the long run will breed suspicion, distrust and conflict.

Third is a more hopeful future. ARSA emerged as decades of oppression and progressive marginalization of the Rohingya tipped into desperation and despair. With no hope for a better future and no way out, some were ready to contemplate violent responses and the militants found a fertile recruiting ground. Refugees will not willingly return to a situation of such hopelessness.

Meaningful progress

Changing that requires meaningful progress on implementing key recommendations of the advisory commission led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Myanmar government has embraced these recommendations, but there is little sign of rapid progress. The subsequent appointment of an Implementation Committee for the recommendations, and recently an advisory board to the Implementation Committee that includes several eminent international figures, suggests an administration focused on diplomatic strategy instead of the much more difficult practical steps needed to change the situation on the ground.

These steps would have to be far-reaching. The government and military would have to give clear, credible security guarantees. Rakhine vigilantes would have to be disarmed and their impunity ended. The paramilitary Border Guard Police that operates only in northern Rakhine would need to be disbanded and replaced by a new force with different personnel, training and uniforms — preferably drawn from other religious and ethnic minority communities from outside Rakhine state, to generate trust and reduce the risk of abuses.

A path to rapid, good-faith verification of citizenship for Rohingya returnees — and those who never fled — is required. This means abandoning the government's current two-step process, where Rohingya must first apply for "national verification cards" which they overwhelmingly reject out of fear they will lead to a permanent second-class immigration status. In recent years, only a tiny number of these card holders have proceeded to the second step and had their citizenship status determined, whereas a majority of Rohingya likely qualify for full citizenship even under the restrictive 1982 citizenship law currently in force.

[Myanmar's] government and military would have to give clear, credible security guarantees. Rakhine vigilantes would have to be disarmed and their impunity ended.

The few Rohingya who have been granted citizenship cards, and those who have always held them, are in practice no better off than the rest. They find themselves still confined to displacement camps or unable to travel within or out of Rakhine state for vague administratively-imposed reasons of "security." Rampant discrimination and enforced segregation must be addressed to allow freedom of movement — essential for access to government health, education and other services, and for employment.

The sad truth is that many of these measures are almost inconceivable in the political environment in Myanmar today. They would be vehemently resisted by many ethnic Rakhine, many of the most high-profile Buddhist monks in the country, and many in the civil service and security forces. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and her government may be genuine in their desire to see a return of refugees, but they have so far failed to grapple with the enormity of the obstacles that must be overcome to bring the refugees home and turn the tide on this tragic saga.