Myanmar’s persecution of their Rohingya (Muslim religious minorities) had already apprehended the eyes of world media at the end of 2016. The viciousness and delinquency against humanity left a mark of horridness on our cognizance.
The media and UN agencies are not being allowed to cover the annihilation that has been going on after the October 9, 2016 attack when 9 border guards were killed. The attack gave the military the opening to take charge of Rohingyas populations by unleashing pitiless battering.
It seemed like the military just needed a reason to take on the Rohingya population.
The Rakhine state, the only Muslim state in the whole of Myanmar, is home to most of the Rohingya population. Historically, Muslims were living in this state which was previously known as Arakan state hundreds of years ago.
It is also recorded that during the British era there was a noteworthy amount of migration from parts of British India and present-day Bangladesh to Burma for accelerating the British colonial construction process.
Myanmar’s people consider these migrants as Bengalis and convey ample fury towards this community. These migrants were employed in menial jobs and have occupied the lands of native people which are the focal points of displeasure.
Myanmar, being a predominantly Buddhist country, dreads the expansion of Rohingya territories fearing it will bring Muslim dominance to the country. Because of which in 1982, General Ne Win brought new citizenship law and recognized 135 ethnic groups. The recognition for obvious reasons excludes Rohingyas.
This exclusion made them stateless as they were deprived of basic human rights – right to education, land ownership, healthcare, and also from job opportunities. They are also not allowed to travel to different parts of the country freely.
In such a situation, it is hardly possible to persist.
Thousands of Rohingyas are running away from their homes and taking shelter in the overcrowded refugee camps in the border areas of Bangladesh and India. It has been tremendously grim to afford humanitarian assistance to these affected people.
In the year 2015, the whole world noticed the plight of Rohingya when the Andaman sea crisis came to light. For a better living condition and from fear of being persecuted, thousands of Rohingyas took to the open sea to reach out to the countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The risk they have taken in pursuit of survival made their plight known to the other parts of the world.
The recent operation that the military is conducting after the October incident, is also considered as ethnic cleansing by world media. Here, the utmost priority is to establish Myanmar as a Buddhist country.
The Buddhist nationalists have been very much vocal against the Rohingya expansion in the Rakhine state. We have already seen the violence erupted due the conflict among Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya population in 2012.
The Rohingyas were brutally persecuted and even children and women were not spared. Women were raped and ‘crime against humanity’ was perpetrated frequently. In the current status quo, there are evidences of these crimes, but when asked the reply from the authorities is that ‘Rohingya women are too dirty, the soldiers would not rape them’.
Just because the world media focused on these exploitative issues and UN agencies providing humanitarian support, the locals are having odious stance for the respective agencies. By the end of 2016, the persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar had achieved all the features of a ‘genocide’.
The Myanmar Government has remained awfully silent regarding the pertaining issue, denying all the charges that has been brought to the military performing massacre in the Rakhine state.
Thousands of houses are being torched making the poor population homeless and forcing them to run away to Bangladesh, India and Indonesia or any other safe shelter state. Miles after miles of these helpless Rohingyas are sitting on the roadsides of host countries and in refugee camps waiting for humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian activists are finding it difficult to provide the newly-arrived Rohingyas with sufficient support.
Meanwhile, the new NLD Government’s spokespersons have been all too silent on these issue. The Noble laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi is facing tremendous criticism for not speaking up for the Rohingyas.
She has sacrificed an astonishing amount of time to establish democracy and to ensure human rights in Myanmar. Now, if she continues her current silent stand that will repudiate everything that she has done. The world will stop relying on her magnitude.
What can be assumed for Suu’s silence is that she didn’t want to disturb the Buddhist nationalists, who helped her come to power.
On the other hand, she still doesn’t have power over the Myanmar army as her Government is yet to bring about proper democracy in the country. After a half century of military rule in the country, the system has to be radically brought into democratic framework.
If the predicament of this highly maltreated ethnic group is not redeemed soon, the ongoing crisis will push the world back towards degradation with regards to achieving SDG goals for all.