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Rohingya Crisis: A Major Threat to Myanmar Transition and Regional Stability
Rohingya Crisis: A Major Threat to Myanmar Transition and Regional Stability
Report 261 / Asia

缅甸:若开邦的政治

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 若开邦当下情势混杂了一系列恶性因素,其中包括根源深长的中央政府与边陲地区的紧张关系、针对穆斯林少数族裔的社群间及宗教间的严重冲突、以及极端贫困和发展欠缺。这引发了2012年的大规模暴力事件以及随后爆发的零星冲突。政治气氛已然处于高温状态,并可能随着缅甸2015年底全国大选的逼近而继续升高。若开邦的形势对缅甸政治转型的整体成功形成了重大威胁,并在政府亟需国际支持和投资之际,使其声誉严重受损。制定任何政策方案的前提是意识到任何简单办法或者快捷途径是不存在的。若开邦所面临的问题根源于数十年的武装暴力、威权统治以及国家——社会冲突。这场危机已经波及全邦以及其中的所有社群。化解危机需要一个持续和多角度的解决方案,并需要在过渡时期提供至关重要的人道主义和保护性干预。

 对若开邦局势的失败处理将会造成全国性影响。缅甸正在将自身重塑为一个与各少数民族和平相处、尊重多元化的更加开放的社会,狭隘且歧视性民粹主义的萌芽将会成长为巨大祸根,为政治解决数十年武装冲突,包括建立一个联邦国家,造成严重困难。

 若开邦最大的族群是信奉佛教的若开族,穆斯林在少数民族中为数不少,其中包括得不到缅甸政府和若开邦承认的罗兴亚人。国际上趋向于将若开族一概视为暴力极端主义分子,而忽略族群内存在的多种观点、忽视若开族本身也是一个长期受压迫的少数民族这一事实、并且很少试图去理解他们的想法和顾虑。这样的态度显然于事无补,因为其强化了若开族四面受敌的心态,并且将复杂现实简单模糊化,而对这一现实的准确把握是寻求可持续解决方案的必要条件。

 与缅甸其他少数民族类似,若开族人的积怨源于长期遭受政府歧视、对本民族事务缺乏政治控制、经济边缘化、人权受侵犯以及在语言和文化表达上受到的限制。然而若开族人积累了数十年的怨愤已经开始变形。自从向新政府的转型以来,在重建社区和重新树立民族身份的过程中,许多若开族人日益将人口数量对比视为最直接和明显的威胁,并由此担心将在自己本邦中成为少数民族。且不论有理与否,此类担忧在若开族社群中无疑十分强烈。

 多年来,穆斯林社群在社会和政治生活中被日益边缘化,而罗兴亚人受害尤甚。很多人长期得不到完整的公民权利,致使生存手段和生活水平严重受损。目前有人正试图通过立法剥夺他们的公民权,此举可能成为导火索。罗兴亚人视公民身份为仅存的与政治的联系纽带和影响政治的手段,失去了公民权,他们很可能得出政治大门已经关闭的结论,并可能由此走向非暴力反抗,甚至有组织暴力的路径。

 缅甸政府当下应对方案的核心包括一个核实无身份证明的穆斯林的公民身份的试点项目,以及一个在更大范围内应对政治、安全和发展问题的“行动计划”,但两者都存在严重问题。政府和若开族人社区拒绝使用“罗兴亚人”这个名称,罗兴亚人同样强烈地反对“孟加拉人”这个称呼,这成了一个死结。这一问题还未得到解决,对穆斯林人的公民身份核实项目就已经开始进行,大部分罗兴亚人可能采取抵制。

 行动计划设想将被授予公民权的人迁移到新的定居点,而非返回他们原本的家园,此举有可能会强化种族隔离。那些被确定为非公民,或拒不接受核实的人,可能会在达成解决方案前不得不暂居营地,这实际上可能会是很长时间。另外,许多穆斯林可能会被赋予入籍公民身份,因此得不到完整公民身份所具有的保障和多项权利。

 公民身份本身并不能自动提升穆斯林人口的权利。卡曼族的困境就是很明显的例子,他们从出生就拥有完整公民身份,而且其土著群体身份也获得了承认,但是由于他们的伊斯兰信仰,许多人被限制在难民营中,没有自由迁徙或返回家园的可能。由此可见,公民身份是改善权利的必要条件,而非充分条件。终结包括迁徙限制在内的歧视政策,改善安全环境与加强法治也同样必不可少。

 若开族佛教徒和穆斯林社区的需求与期望很可能无法调和,缅甸政府因此面临重大挑战。在此环境下,必须在保护穆斯林的基本权利和自由的同时,寻求缓解若开族担忧的途径。打击极端主义思想和仇恨言论的努力也同样重要,否则当下任意表达仇恨观点并据此行动而不受惩罚的大环境将无法得到改善。暴力的倡导者和实施者必须被及时抓捕归案,这在目前很少发生。及时执法不仅能维护正义,还有助于政治稳定和提升实现和平解决方案的可能性。

 政治解决方案可能不会立竿见影,即便如此也不能无所作为。危机的解决不仅对若开邦,而且对全缅甸都至关重要。防止极端主义暴力需要立即启动有公信力的程序,向若开族和穆斯林社区证明政治道路是存在的。更广泛地说,除非缅甸成功地塑造新的国家认同感,以包容这个国家极具多元化的文化、种族和宗教,否则就与全国范围的和平与稳定继续无缘。与此同时,国际社会也必须继续向弱势群体提供亟需的人道主义援助和保护,这可能会持续数年。同样关键的是解决若开邦所有社群都面临的长期贫穷和欠发展问题,公平和有针对性的村级社区发展项目尤为重要。

 仰光/布鲁塞尔,2014年10月22日

Commentary / Asia

Rohingya Crisis: A Major Threat to Myanmar Transition and Regional Stability

The international community’s failure to address Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has resulted in massive displacement from Rakhine state. The crisis poses a clear threat to Myanmar’s democratic transition. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to support strong Security Council action and push for multilateral and bilateral engagement with Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders.

Since Crisis Group’s warning in its February Watch List, Rakhine state’s “alarming trajectory” has deteriorated further. The views of most people in Myanmar and those of much of the international community on the crisis are diametrically opposed. Domestically, the situation is seen to stem from terrorist attacks and a legitimate security response to them; internationally, the focus is on the disproportionate military response to those attacks involving serious abuses characterised as possible crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Myanmar’s political direction in relation to the crisis has now been set and is very unlikely to be altered. Views domestically and internationally are hardening in different directions, with huge implications for domestic politics and Myanmar’s standing in the world.

At the open session of the UN Security Council on 28 September, there was consensus among many members on four points: (1) ending the military operation and vigilante attacks on Rohingya; (2) giving unfettered humanitarian access to northern Rakhine state to UN agencies and their INGO partners; (3) ensuring a safe, voluntary and sustainable return of refugees from Bangladesh to their original places of origin in Myanmar; and (4) addressing the underlying problems through implementation as soon as possible of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission, in particular the need to expedite the citizenship verification process and to ensure that those granted citizenship are able to enjoy associated rights.

Failure to address the immediate humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state – through concerted efforts to end attacks and protect civilians as well as urgent humanitarian assistance to Rohingya communities still in Myanmar who are already on the move – have aggravated the crisis and triggered the departure of tens of thousands more Rohingya to Bangladesh, who have been arriving in recent days. Only the UN has the capacity to quickly deliver assistance at the required scale, and in a way that will reassure the international community that needs of all communities are being met. The main reason for this second wave of departures must also be clear: it is not a lack of food or humanitarian assistance per se, but rather restrictions and insecurity that deprive people of their normal means of survival, whether farming, fishing, foraging or trading.

Likewise, failure to make significant progress on voluntary refugee returns under UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) auspices, and begin to address the root causes of the crisis through implementation of the Annan commission recommendations, will leave a huge population in Bangladesh of some 700,000 people who have fled over the last year. This group of traumatised people with no hope for the future could easily be taken advantage of by militants and transnational jihadist groups for their own ends, which could create deep instability in Myanmar and the wider region. Some may attempt to cross the Andaman Sea by boat to Malaysia once the monsoon recedes in the next month or so, facilitated by people-smuggling networks, risking a repeat of the maritime migration crisis of 2015.

Myanmar’s actions are already aggravating the terrorist threat.

Myanmar’s actions are already aggravating the terrorist threat. On 3 September, a senior leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen called for attacks on Myanmar and its leaders in response to the treatment of the Rohingya. On 13 September, al-Qaeda appealed to its members to support the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militancy and warned that Myanmar would face “punishment” for its “crimes”. Although ARSA issued a statement the following day stating that it had no links with “any transnational terrorist group” and “did not welcome the involvement of such groups in the conflict”, the risk of other groups manipulating the situation is significant, as is the possibility of terrorist attacks elsewhere in Myanmar from outside the country, whether directed or inspired by transnational jihadist groups. Tellingly in this regard, an Egyptian militant group named Hasm claimed responsibility for a blast at the Myanmar embassy in Cairo on 30 September.

Furthermore, the crisis represents a grave threat to Myanmar’s transition. It has unleashed a wave of strong nationalist sentiment and greatly amplified and reinforced bigoted views. There is extremely strong support in the country for Suu Kyi’s position and the military’s approach. The risk is that once such narrow nationalist sentiments take hold, unopposed by the democratically-elected government, they will constrain future government responses to the crisis and set the country once again on a path to international pariah status. This will make it much more difficult for Myanmar to forge an inclusive national identity, essential for such an ethnically, linguistically and religiously diverse country. And it would hinder progress on the peace process, whose success requires national consensus on granting greater political authority and economic resources to minority communities and areas. Anti-Western sentiment, currently running high, also could be entrenched.

Suu Kyi does not have the authority under the constitution to order the military to take a different approach, but through the president has the power to convene military leaders. However, her most powerful tool is her undisputed position as the person in the country enjoying the greatest political and moral authority. This gives her the power to sway public opinion, and considerable ability to influence the security forces; her speech to the nation on 12 October contained some positive signals in this regard. Efforts to shift the domestic narrative may come at a cost to both her political support and relations with the military. However, the risk of the military attempting to take complete power, or launch a coup, is very low; the military spent more than twenty years preparing the current constitutional arrangement and putting it in place, and from their perspective the transition has been much more successful than they might have expected. They would see a return to military rule as a failure of their generational project, to be avoided at all costs.

Recommendations for the EU and its member states

Immediate priorities remain those articulated by a number of members in the 28 September Security Council briefing: ending state and vigilante violence and village destruction; unfettered humanitarian access for the UN and INGOs; ensuring voluntary return of refugees to places of origin in line with international law; and timely implementation of the Annan commission’s recommendations. To work toward these priorities, and in light of the 16 October EU’s Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, the EU and its member states should:

  • Continue to support strong Security Council scrutiny and action.
     
  • Continue to support strong, principled multilateral and bilateral engagement with Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders in order to chart a way out of the crisis.
     
  • Support efforts to ensure accountability for rights violations in northern Rakhine state.
     
  • Encourage Suu Kyi to speak to the nation and make full use of her position to shift the national narrative in a more constructive direction.

A return to previous forms of bilateral and EU sanctions on Myanmar in the form of travel bans and asset freezes may not be helpful in achieving concrete progress, and risks constraining future policy options as well as sending unintended signals to investors that could impact on the economy, to the detriment of ordinary Myanmar people.