EU agrees not to use the term “Rohingya”

The European Union has bowed to a call by Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to avoid the term “Rohingya” to describe prosecuted Muslims in Myanmar.

But the EU, at the same time, urged the government to open more “space” to deal with human rights abuses in the restive northwest, The Irrawaddy Online reported on Thursday.

The EU’s statement exposes a rift in the West’s approach toward the Rohingya issue with the United States continuation to use the term “Rohingya”, citing respect for the right of communities to choose what they should be called.

The Rohingya Muslims are being seen by many Burmese Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The term is divisive.

Suu Kyi told the UN Human Rights investigator visiting Myanmar this week that her government would not use the term because it was inflammatory.

“We understand that the term “Rohingya” is emotionally charged in (Burma) and we have heard the call of the government to avoid creating tensions by using polarizing terminology,” Roland Kobia, the EU ambassador to Myanmar told reporters.

Suu Kyi’s administration this week proposed a new term for the Rohingya – Muslim community in (Arakan) state” – but the description has quickly provoked opposition.

The Arakan National Party which enjoys considerable following in the state said the government was biased and rejected the new term.