Myanmese envoy says Rohingya ugly as ogres
Myanmar's senior official in Hong Kong yesterday sought to distance his nation from Rohingya boatpeople, describing them as 'ugly as ogres'.
In a letter to all heads of foreign missions in Hong Kong and local newspapers, Consul General Ye Myint Aung dismissed recent reports and commentaries detailing their troubled history as a stateless Muslim tribe within Myanmar.
'In reality, Rohingya are neither 'Myanmar people' nor Myanmar's ethnic group,' Ye Myint Aung writes.
'You will see in the photos that their complexion is 'dark brown',' he adds, noting that the complexion of Myanmese is 'fair and soft, good-looking as well'.
He notes that his own complexion is a 'typical genuine one' of the Myanmese 'gentleman' and 'you will accept how handsome your colleague Mr Ye is'. 'It is quite different from what you have seen and read in the papers. (They are as ugly as ogres),' Ye Myint Aung writes.
He enclosed two recent articles from the New Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece newspaper for the ruling military junta. One notes that the Rohingya are not among Myanmar's 100-odd ethnic groups and another details 60 years of action against Rohingya 'illegal immigrants'.
Scholars have described how Rohingya, the descendents of Arab and Persian traders who have lived in Myanmar's Arakan region since the 9th century, were protected under British colonial rule before frictions grew during more recent decades. They were denied citizenship under a nationality law in 1982.
Refugee workers say privately they fear racism is making their plight worse, with so far only Indonesia saying it would be willing to treat boatpeople crossing the Andaman Sea as refugees fleeing persecution, rather than illegal migrants.