Trigger Warning: Here Be Cynics.
As we all know, there's very little utility to arguing about ethics in public, as most Internet arguments exist as generators for entertainment, not action.
In any argument that debates the merit of casually deleting human lives, while it may seems fair to call anyone who votes on the side of deletion, "an asshole," it is probably not their individual fault as all conversations by individuals ultimately reflect on their cultural environment and upbringing.
Assholes?Ultimately, we don't know if it's possible to refer to any of these people as assholes. The rhetoric for the application of "asshole," terminology is probably represented by the following two views. Both views are eminently debateably - I mean, we still can't clearly say if either of these views is true.
(View i.) Turning away boats, amounts to murder.
As reported by Bloomberg:
Countries towing boats back to sea would probably be in breach of international law, said Eric Paulsen, executive director for human rights group Lawyers for Liberty.
“These boats carrying overcrowded refugees and migrants are typically rickety wooden trawlers and hardly seaworthy,” he said. “Turning or towing these boats away is as good as signing their death warrant as the occupants are normally starving, dehydrated, sickly and in dire need of immediate assistance.”
(View ii.) Sending Rohingyas back to Myanmar, amounts to murder.
As reported by The Guardian:
“The Rohingya are faced with two options: stay and face annihilation, or flee,” said Professor Penny Green, part of a group that recently completed several months’ research in the Rohingya’s home state of Rakhine. “If we understand genocide to be a process, that is what this is. Those who remain suffer destitution, malnutrition and starvation; severe physical and mental illness; restrictions on movement, education, marriage, childbirth, livelihood, land ownership; and the ever-present threat of violence and corruption.”Let's be clear that many individuals below have made good and wholesome contributions to society in various ways, and that's not the point of this article. That being said, in the interest of calling a shit-stirrer, "a shit-stirrer," let's pump out a short list of folks who have been quoted on the Internet on this topic, with the appearance of being interested in controversy, at the casual expense of Rohingyan lives.
C'est moi*I wave my hand*: guilty, as charged. I don't really want Rohingyans to die, but I do think it's an important gesture to apply the "asshole," label to myself, before applying it (liberally, and without much further ado) to the following:
Helan AngHelen provides a short argument, that the folks stuck on boats are economic migrants, not refugees.
Wan Junaidi Jaafar(via CNN, via Helan Ang ibid.) Wan is the Malaysian Deputy Home Minister, and while his views here probably reflect those of his office, and not his individual person, he turns out to be a public figure, so we'll just treat him like one for the purpose of our entertainment. He's quoted here, saying:
Malaysia is processing more than 1,000 recently arrived migrants, with the aim of sending them home.Well, that's not so bad, is it ? After all,
"They come with the culture and come with diseases and lots of social problems. Do you realize Malaysia has been free of TB and many kinds of diseases, and these people are bringing many of this together?"Reposte: see Fa Abdul's reason #2.
Tan Kok Kwee(via AP, via Yahoo) Tan is a first admiral of Malaysia's maritime enforcement agency, and probably systematically answerable to Wan (above) - so once again, his views may be construed to be reflective of Malaysia, and not of himself. AP attributes the following sentiment on the boat-folks to Tan:
Unless they're not seaworthy and sinking, he added, the navy will provide "provisions and send them away."And:
Tan, of the Malaysia's maritime enforcement agency, said the waters around Langkawi would be patrolled 24 hours a day by eight ships.AP also reported that:
For now, survivors on the island were being held in two separate holding centers — women and children in the sports hall and the men in another facility. But they would soon be transferred to a detention center on the Malaysian mainland.Phew, I guess he's not an asshole after all.
- Meanwhile, in Thailand...
Prayuth Chan-ocha(via Bloomberg, via NPR) Chan-ocha is Prime Minister of Thailand. Another public figure. Bloomberg reports on Chan-ocha:
He said Thailand would not open permanent refugee camps for them, and if Thailand were to open camps they would only be to temporarily detain them to be prosecuted for illegal entry.Grain of salt, my friends, grain of salt - the public official reflects the public's opinion, unless the public disagrees and calls him to act on the disagreement.
“If they break the law and land in Thailand, how can we take care of them?” Prayuth told reporters Thursday. “Where will the budget come from? That money will need to come from Thai people’s taxes, right?”
Chayut Navespootikorn(via The Guardian) Navespootikorn is a "senior official," in the Thai navy. He's quoted here, saying:
“To bring them into our country is not our policy,” he said. “If they need fuel or food to go on [to a third country] we would help them with it.”Once again, Navespootikorn's view probably reflects the stance held by Chan-ocha (above).
- ... and in Myanmanr:
Zaw Htay(via Al Jazeera) Zaw is director of the office of Myanmar's president. He is quoted here saying:
"We will not accept the allegations by some that Myanmar is the source of the problem,"And:
"The gravest violations of human rights are committed by those corrupt officials who are involved in human trafficking activities and colluded with the trafficking syndicates,"And:
"From a humanitarian point of view, it's sad that these people are being pushed out to sea by some countries,"Well, no kidding. Based solely on this article, at least his messaging is consistent. Again, he's a public official, who works for...
Thein Sein(via Al Jazeera ibid.) Thein is Myanmar's President. Evidently doing everything in his power to address the not-Rohingya situation, in Rakhine (a.k.a. Arakan). Fortify Rights reports:
“Not only are the authorities making life so intolerable for Rohingya that they’re forced to flee, but they’re also profiting from the exodus,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights. “This is a regional crisis that’s worsening while Myanmar authorities are treating it like a perverse payday.”Well, from way out here, I'd venture that it's hard to know what's really going on in Myanmar, but you'd only have to look to find out. Go ahead, if you want to know more. Hey, even FoxNews notes that as of 2013, over a hundred-thousand Rohingya lounged in IDP camps.
Local Rohingya brokers mostly deliver payments to members of the Lon Thein riot police, Myanmar Police Department, Navy, and Army in amounts ranging from 500,000 kyat (500 USD) to 600,000 kyat (600 USD) per shipload of Rohingya asylum seekers in exchange for passage out to sea. In one case documented by Fortify Rights, the Myanmar Navy demanded 7-million kyat (7,000 USD) from a criminal gang operating a ship filled with Rohingya fleeing to Malaysia. In other cases, members of the Myanmar Police Department took up to 15,000 kyat (15 USD) per person directly from individual Rohingya passengers.
Aung San Suu Kyi(via The Huffington Post) Well at least you know, this is a blatant trolling. HuffPo reports the Nobel laureate's stance on the current politics of her language:
This word, “Rohingya,” clearly has power. So why won’t Daw Suu use it?
A political analyst with access to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate relayed one of their recent conversations to me:
“I am not silent because of political calculation,” she reportedly told him. “I am silent because, whoever’s side I stand on, there will be more blood. If I speak up for human rights, they (the Rohingya) will only suffer. There will be more blood.”
ASEANWell, ASEAN probably doesn't count as a legal entity, which is precisely the way its components want it. Without legal personhood, there's no real sense of responsibility to be held by this loosely managed regional coalition.
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, was quoted here saying that ASEAN needs to take the lead.
And his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, was quoted here saying that it's Myanmar's problem, not ASEAN's.
Don't you love the wayang? It's popcorn time.
Wong Chun Wai(via The Star Online) Wong appears to be:
Executive Director/Group Chief Editor at Star Publications (M) BhdHe says:
We cannot afford to give the impression that we will take them in, even temporarily, because news will soon travel back home that they were welcomed in Malaysia.
The Rakyat(via The Rakyat Post)
Taking these refugees in may be morally and emotionally satisfying, but at what cost and at what risk?