Worsening conditions of Rohingya community in Myanmar

24_Rohingya_r_w_MEDThe persecution of a community on the basis of religion, ethnicity, race or colour is not an outcome of new world order. Rather, it has a long history across the globe. If the Whites persecuted the Blacks in South Africa merely because of latter’s colour, Israel has been persecuting Palestinians in the name of self-defence since its formation in 1948. Hold your breath; the list is long and Israel is not the only one to be held responsible!

The organized persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar a.k.a Burma; at the hands of the Buddhist monks backed by the local police should be seen in the same context. State machinery has left no stone unturned to annihilate this community. The population of Myanmar is around 60 million and they constitute 4 per cent of the country’s total population. Some demographers even claim that the actual population of Rohingya community is much higher than what government shows to undercut their influence and avoid using the state’s funds as an obligation to uplift their standards of lives.

Who are Rohingya?
The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority community in Myanmar. Islam arrived in Burma through the Arab traders and Rohingya are considered to be the descendent of Yemeni Arab traders. The Rohingyas are ethnically closer to the people of Bangladesh than their fellow countrymen because of their sharp noses, dark skins and physical built. That’s one of the reasons why the Burmese government thinks that they are not part of the state. Not only that, they can speak and understand the dialect of the Bangala Bhasha which is spoken in Chittagong, the bordering state of Bangladesh. It goes against them that they are not linguistically efficient in the Burmese language which is the official language of the country they reside in. These factors of aloofness don’t go down well the mainstream media and the people of mainland Myanmar.

Bone of contention:
The disputes between the Muslims and the Buddhist in the city Meikhtila in March 2012 is considered to be the bone of contention between them which spread across the country like wild fire. The Buddhist community went on rampage and destroyed five mosques and set ablaze the houses. During the violence they killed tens of thousands of innocent and helpless Rohingyas who were not even remotely responsible for the dispute. As it generally happens, their prime targets were women and children. Not only that, the mob led by Buddhist monks gang raped the women of the Rohingya community in front of their family members. They killed most of the men in broad day light. This systematic, state-sponsored pogrom caused scores of death and mass displacement of tens of thousands of people. As per the Reuter, more than 140000 Rohingyas have so far become homeless and their number is growing with each passing day. Some of them have taken legal or illegal refuge in the neighbouring countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Some were caught and killed by the police at the time of fleeing Myanmar to avoid another cycle of violence against them.

Political Position:
They have no political status in the eyes of government or the judiciary of Myanmar. They are considered to be illegal immigrants irrespective of more than 5 decades stay in Myanmar. General Ne Win, who assumed power in 1962, nationalized all businesses and Muslims were the biggest losers. To make the matter worst, he stripped them of the Burmese citizenship in 1982. This minority has no rights; it cannot buy land and is not represented in government jobs. This is racial discrimination, plain and simple. They are completely deprived of the basic human rights like – the right to hold property, the right to travel, the right to medical aid and access to shopping. Not only that, they don’t even have the proper right to marriage. They have to pay fine to exercise the right to marriage. This law was enacted to keep their population under check and scrutiny. They are refugees in their own country. The UN has described the Rohingya community as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Sporadic criminal acts and violence are directed at them time and again and the world is just not bothered.

Failure of International community:
The West is salivating about the prospects of new business opportunities in Myanmar. China and India have not spoken about this persecution as they too have vital interests there. The OIC, which adopted a human rights charter in 2008, has also done nothing to assist them or normalise the situation. And worst of all, the gross violation of basic human rights has not shaken the champion of human rights and democracy, Madam Aung San Suu Kyi. She washed her hands off and pleaded unaware when a section of the media reminded her of Rohingya’s deteriorating plight in Myanmar. Interestingly, she was quick to add that Rohingyas are not the Myanmares citizens in the first place, when asked about the no political rights of Myanmar’s largest minority. Her studied silence on this burning issue is because of his political ambition. She is going to fight the next coming election and will not wish to earn the wrath of the Buddhist majority. In today’s fast changing world order, no country wants to come forward to lend a helping hand without any worldly gains.  The Turkish Prime Minister Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan termed it inhuman and decried the silence of the western country about degrading conditions of the riot-hit Rohingya after taking the stock of the situation in Myanmar last year. Mrs. Erdogon cried by seeing horrible conditions of violence-hit, helpless men, women and children.

Presumption and conclusion:
How can a state government support the majority to perpetrate havocs on minority merely on communal basis? How can the state-sponsored pogrom be justified even if the Rohingya community is the reason of dispute or conflict between majority community and minority community? How can the massacre of minority community be justified only to gain political dividends? Where is the fourth estate of democracy, press? Where are the international human rights organizations? Is it a case of justice delayed or justice denied? This is an open secret we are all very well aware of. They don’t deserve international attention because they don’t possess the mines of gold and copper. They have no importance because they don’t possess petro dollars. Their sobs and pains are unheard of due to the lack of pressure-group to influence the world.
The situation is communally charged again after the gang rape of a Rohingya girl of 16 years by the government police. If the situation is not checked in, it will not only engulf the social fabric of the society but also ravage the entire country. This is the opportune time for the international community to intervene before it gets too late. Or else, the silence of peace-loving people will become more dangerous than the might of wild animals.

(Article is written by Mohammed Sharique Anwar and he can be reached via email at: hi.shariq@gmail.com)