How long our world must witness the ethnic cleansing of vulnerable minorities?
In Myanmar, it’s a routine thing against the minority Rohingyas who mostly live in the northern Arakan state, close to Bangladesh. They are the most persecuted people in our planet. They were persecuted for nearly half a century by the military governments that preceded the current civilian government.
There was much hope in the air that conditions inside the country would improve dramatically once a democratic government comes to power. Well, there is a democratic government now after a general election in which all but Muslims participated [the latter were barred from participating in the election on the grounds of their race/ethnicity and religion]. The Myanmar government is run by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party.
Remember her? Suu Kyi was the poster lady of democracy, a figure who was prematurely awarded a Nobel Prize for peace to pressure the repressive military government to pave the path for democracy. She was presumed to make things better for everyone. Even the persecuted Muslims had high aspirations about her despite her criminal silence when the Rohingya and other minority Muslims were slaughtered all over Myanmar by Buddhists in 2012 genocidal campaigns. It did not matter that in the general election that followed her party did not field a single Muslim candidate even in the Rohingya majority territories of the northern Arakan state.
Her hypocrisy shocked everyone. Many pundits tried to find excuses for her saying that her decision not to field a single Muslim candidate was part of a calculated election strategy to position herself as a die-hard, serious Buddhist nationalist who is not sympathetic to the ‘despised’ Rohingya and other Muslim minorities living inside the den of intolerance called Myanmar. As expected, she won big, formed the civilian government and self-appointed herself to be its chief counsellor, a CEO-like figure overlooking the government.
Rather than integrating the minority Muslims and easing their pains and sufferings, in recent months Suu Kyi’s government unleashed one of the worst ethnic cleansing drives in the northern Rakhine state to further marginalize the already marginalized Rohingya community. Scores of Rohingya villages were torched by her security forces leading to forced exodus of tens of thousands to Bangladesh, let alone the internal displacement of even a larger number.
Thousands disappeared, many were killed. Hundreds of Muslim females – even teenage girls – were raped as part of an ethnic cleansing drive that many imagined would never see in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar.
Knowing the enormity of the war crimes committed by her security forces, Suu Kyi would not let any fact-finding mission to investigate. In a BBC interview, she lied and denied such gruesome abuses of human rights.
But can truth be hidden? She ought to know better.
Suu Kyi says that Rohingyas returning to Myanmar are welcome. Reliable sources in Maungdaw say that the government has planned to return only one third of their original lands to the returnees and internally displaced Rohingyas, and that they are kept in a small slum-like quarter as per one ‘Household Registration List’, regardless of the numbers of the families within that ‘household registration list.’
A Rohingya youth sleeps on the street in Burma. Photo Source: Queen Mary, University of London.
“The Myanmar military burnt down our homes last year and we became displaced. They are returning us only one-third of our original village and building a small IDP Camps-like quarter. None of us wants to accept this. Worse, they aredemolishing mosques, cemeteries, roads and other historical evidences in order to destroying evidences of the human habitats/societies in the village”, said an internally displaced person at ‘Wapeik’ village in Maungdaw.
Rohingya youths are targets of intimidation, harassment and persecution by the Myanmar authorities. The Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) from the Camp 12 based at the village of ‘YweNyoTaung’ has recently issued the warrants considered as arbitrary by the human rights observers for the following number of youths from the following villages:
- 105 from the village of ‘Ye Khae Chaung KhwaSone’ locally known as ‘Bor Gozi Bil.’
- 69 from the village of ‘Ye Dwin Chaung’ locally known as ‘Raimma Bil’, and
- 59 from the village of ‘Kyar Gaung Taung’ locally known as ‘Rabailla’.
U Aye Myint, a human rights observer based in Maungdaw while speaking to Rohingya Vision, said “this is a list of targeted arbitrary warrants issued aiming to reduce the numbers of the Rohingya youths including underage teenagers in the Arakan state. As a result, many youths in the region have been living in their hideouts for past few days in fear of arbitrary arrests.”
According to the local Rohingyas, since 2012 the Myanmar authorities systematically forced hundreds of Rohingya youths in Maungdaw and Buthidaung to flee from the country by issuing arbitrary arrest warrants against them after accusing them of involving in the June-2012 violence. [Rohingya Vision TV]
Suu Kyi has proven herself to be a devil with a smiling face; an utterly sly lady to whom veracity and morality have lost their worth. It’s a sad commentary on a personality – once much revered and now deservingly maligned – that could have made things better for all those who call Myanmar their home – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar religious minorities won’t have any rights. Thus, the destruction of Muslim shrines, mosques and cemeteries has become part of a sinister strategy to ethnically cleanse them. And yet like a pathological liar she chose to deny practicing such crimes.
What a joke Buddhism has become in the hands of its extremist zealots inside Myanmar!
In nearby Bangladesh, if any Buddhist temple is attacked by an angry mob that is reacting to unfathomed crimes of the Myanmar government and its extremist Buddhists, the government of Bangladesh takes extra effort to refurbish it better showing its unmolested reverence and respect for other religions and their symbols. Expecting any reciprocity of gesture from Buddhist Myanmar is simply foolish; it’s not even a beautiful dream, only an illusion!
Unalienable rights are those which God gave to man at the Creation, once and for all, and as such, governments could not take them away. In the USA, this fundamental truth is recognized and enshrined in its nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence: “[A]ll men are created equal…[and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, stating such to be the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The Government of Myanmar is in serious breach of the UDHR and its Article 3, which states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. As I have noted many times, Myanmar government is guilty of refusing to grant any of the 30 Articles enshrined in the UDHR to the Rohingya people. The latter don’t have any right in Myanmar – neither before nor now in Suu Kyi’s apartheid regime.
I am aware that to the offenders like Suu Kyi ‘apartheid’ is a loaded term, as she has done in the past with the charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’ against her government. But seriously speaking, how can she and her ilk duck such accusations when a comparison with Apartheid South Africa makes a very strong case for Myanmar?
The Rohingyas of Myanmar are the worst victims of a criminal policy of economic, racial, religious, political and economic apartheid whose parallel simply does not exist in our time anywhere.
Unwanted and brutally persecuted in Buddhist Myanmar, Rohingyas have been fleeing their ancestral homes in Arakan state after Burma (now Myanmar) won its independence from the Great Britain. More Rohingyas now live outside Myanmar than inside. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Gulf statelets, Malaysia and India have sizeable community of Rohingya refugees.
The life of a refugee is terrible. It is unsafe, insecure and dehumanizing.
Nearly 5000 Rohingyas have been putting up in the Jammu city, mainly on its outskirts, in the Indian Occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir, well until recently. Now with a fascist Hindutvadi party (BJP) ruling the country in the center and many other states, Hindu fascists are making it difficult for anyone to live peacefully in this country unless the person is a Hindu, preferably from the upper caste. Of course, when it comes to outsiders like the Rohingya, who are refugees who don’t share Hindu religion, they are easy targets of harassment and persecution these days.
Last week, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Jammu, Rakesh Gupta had issued a statement calling for identification and killing of Rohingyas. As the latest report shows, seven Jhuggis (shacks) of Rohingya Muslims were torched by Hindu miscreants in Bhagwati Nagar area of Jammu early Friday, just days after a Rohingya family was thrashed and threatened to leave the state.
The Rohingyas putting up in Bhagwati Nagar said some families living in the adjacent plot were forced to move out after some people threatened them. “I don’t know why it happened. I had come here because of the problem in our country (Burma). We will return once things limp back to normal there. It would be good if the Modi government gives us space and time to stay here for some time, till we return,” said Fatima Khatoon.
High Court Bar Association Srinagar has condemned the torching of seven shacks of Rohingya Muslims by certain communal elements in Bhagwati Area of Jammu, on Friday. It described the statement of certain police officials that it was a case of short circuit as false and an attempt on their part to protect those criminals, who had committed the distressing and horrifying crime.
The Bar Association once again requests the international community including Amnesty International, Asia Watch and other human rights organizations of the World to take notice of the gruesome events, which are taking place in Kashmir and intervene effectively, to bring an end to such gross human rights violations in Kashmir.
My heart bleeds to see so much suffering of the vulnerable people in our world! Who knows if the persecuted Rohingya will one day see the end of their long sufferings, much like many other lucky ones in this unfortunate planet of ours!
Do the leaders of our time have the moral courage, urge and tenacity required to change the ugly face of apartheid Myanmar for better so that people of all races, ethnicities and religions can live side by side peacefully, safely and securely?