Ayesha Zahid/ Rizwan Haider
Who are Rohingyas and how and why they ended up as the stateless minority? What led ‘The Lady’ of Myanmar, a noble peace prize holder to shut her eyes to the ethnic cleansing being carried out there? What authorities does the state hold and what the world can do for the most persecuted minority of the world? The atrocities after August 25 have brought all these questions regarding Myanmar (previously Burma) into limelight.
Rohingya, a group that originated in part of Bengal, now called Bangladesh whose identity and origin are controversial. It serves as the prelude to the entire crises in the Rakhine province of western Myanmar. The anti state groups hold that these Muslims started camping in their country in the last century and have no legal right to merge in the state as the legal citizens. On the other hand, the pro Muslim stance dates back these Rohingya Muslims to the Arab origin and state that they have been here from centuries. Rakhine majority, the Buddhists claim that these Muslims have migrated from Indian sub continent particularly from Bangladesh and will never be given the constitutional rights of their country. Unlike others, they find this issue as threat to Myanmar’s sovereignty rather than an attack on human rights. This ill-fate has followed these people since 1784 when the Burman king Bodawpaya conquered Arakan and hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Bengal.
Recently, the widespread intolerance against the Muslim minority appeared in 2012 when a Muslim man was accused with rape charges of a Buddhist woman. As a consequence of the riots and attacks, over 100,000 Muslims were left homeless. Mass killings, brutalities on innocents and rapes were reported on part of the state elements. The insurgency kept on escalating with every passing year. Riots engulfing hundreds of Muslims became a routine. The recent outburst, as per the government, “was followed by the attack of extremist Bengali insurgents on a police station in Maungdaw region in northern Rakhine state”. The other point of view holds that it was a reaction to the threats of further radicalization of the minorities. Bangladesh, who is already housing hundreds of Rohingya, has seen an increase of 370,000 refugees after this recent outbreak as per UN report (the figure is increasing with every passing day). It is now not willing to house more of these stateless people, who are actually the ‘Bengali’ descendents as per the Burmese authorities.
A sin quite unknown committed by these stateless Muslims has entwisted them in the fire of a collective punishment. UK and UN both have inquired if the attack on the police station was carried out by these 100,000 innocent Rohingyas. Aung San Suu Kyi entitled as ‘The Lady’ in Myanmar has wrecked her previous efforts of promoting democracy. She lost her father at the age of two who fought for democracy. After years when she came back to her country for her ailing mother she decided to stay and fight for the same cause. It was a military rule in Myanmar and she faced fifteen years of house arrest. She stood strong even though she was parted by her husband and children. She faced detention between 1989 and 2010 due to her efforts to restore democracy, was awarded Nobel peace prize in 1991 and was called as “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”. Elections were contested after 25 years in Myanmar. In 2011 the military handed over to a nominally civilian government. In 2015 Elections, National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won and she assumed her office in 2016 as the first State Chancellor of Myanmar.
Power has actually changed this figure of peace now. Journalists, who were her main power during her arrest, are now not able to get any dates for interviews. Not only they are prohibited to enter the conflict area but are not even able to listen from the The Lady herself. Moreover, all anti government reports are thrown into trash and are labeled as mere fabrication. In her rare encounters with media she has totally stripped off the idea that it is ethnic cleansing and has negated the atrocities of Muslims. Military does have great powers in her region and what or what not Ms Suu Kyi can do about this power is another question. But her stubborn stance has led contempt in the hearts of her former followers.
The commission headed by The Lady on demands of international community produced an extremely biased report with no mention of the actual culprits and victims. United Nations seeks to probe into the ongoing persecution, massacre and rape. UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and many others have come forward in favor of the Rohingya Muslims.
Countries like India who lack empathy cannot comprehend the condition of refugees. Videos of women with bruises and acing wounds after being raped; burnt skulls of the children which depict the misery as similar as to that of the Jews under Hitler are just to name a few. These tortured souls are thrown away from their houses; have to travel without basic necessities. Those who live are in far worst condition than those who have died in military attacks, in the landmines of Myanmar-Bangladesh border and out of poor health conditions. UN has asked for aid as they run short of resources. 400,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh(figure still increasing) are in dire need of food, water and shelter and are looking upon each one of us to help them by donating as much as we can in our capacity.