The world’s most persecuted minority

A Rohingya woman rests for a moment with her children Tuesday after crossing into Bangladesh. She says she lost several members of her family in Myanmar, where a new spate of violence has sent more than 100,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing what they describe as certain death, September 5, 2017. Bernat Armangue/AP

The Rohingya people claim to be of a Muslim descent and have lived uneasily alongside the Buddhist community of Burma for decades. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingya who lives in the Southeast Asian country and among the country’s 135 official ethnic groups, they have been the ones who have been persecuted and denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982.

There have been mass killings of Muslim men, women and children, cases of rape and arson by the alleged Myanmar state security forces justified by the impudent statement, “unfinished business”.

On the 27th of August 2017, in a killing spree that lasted for about five hours, 2600 villages were burned down forcing the Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, whose authorities are just as reluctant to provide for them.

During the more than 100 years of British rule (1824-1948), the laborers often migrated from today’s India and Bangladesh but since the British administered Myanmar as a province of India, this migration was only considered internal according to Human Rights Watch. However, the natives took this migration negatively and after independence, they termed this migration “illegal” and continue to persecute them in a horrendous genocide till date.

A Rohingya boy carries a child after after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

This has led many Buddhists to consider the Rohingya to be Bengali, rejecting the term Rohingya as a recent invention, created for political reasons.

In November 2016, a UN official accused the government of carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya. In April 2013, HRW said Myanmar was conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya but the government continues to deny all such accusations.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is however as silent as she could possibly afford to be on the matter, regardless of the accusations of the Western critics who say that she has failed to support the minority that has long been in trouble and is considered weak and cowardly for not being able to stand up to the chief of armed forces General Min Aung Hlaing.

“The military came with 200 people to the village and started fires … All the houses in my village are already destroyed. If we go back there and the army sees us, they will shoot,” Jalal Ahmed, 60, who arrived in Bangladesh last week with a group of about 3,000 after walking for almost a week, told Reuters.

There have been reportings of soldiers ripping Rohingya babies from their mothers’ arms and throwing them into rivers and fire.

This persecution has inevitably led to an armed, but disorganized, resistance. The “clearing operations” in October 2016 and the one recently in August 2017, were provoked after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked several paramilitary checkposts.

According to a director of Fortify Rights, a human rights group working with Rohingya refugees,

“There is certainly a risk that international extremist organizations will seek to be involved in northern Rakhine state,” and that “The best way to prevent this from escalating is to protect the rights of the civilian population. Myanmar is doing the exact opposite.”

Long story short, somewhere away from you, somewhere in some distinct part of the world, innocent lives are being flung into darkness, despair, pain and probably an everlasting insanity because of no particular reason but mere pride, arrogance, and bias against a helpless community.

Imagine yourself being tossed in a fire because of who you are or assume that someone you dearly love was flung into it and all you can do is hear their screams as they die and depart from this world and carry on with your own journey to safety and then think about the people who live to feel that pain afresh every day with no hope of escape.

Humanity already seems to be dead when you have to protest to let people know that it is dying.

What is happening in Burma is happening in other parts of the world in various forms every day. The racism, the Islamophobia, all of this is nothing but an extreme form of bias.

We are humans before anyone else. We only need to know that to keep the peace that we so desire.


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