Editorial : Shameful silence


An army crackdown triggered by an attack on 25 August by suspected Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces has led to the killing of at least 400 people and the exodus of nearly 1,25,000 Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh, leading to a major humanitarian crisis.

Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic group of about 1.1 million have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Burma. The minority is not officially recognized by Burmese government. They live in ghetto like camps in Rakhine state without citizenship.

The group has faced decades of prosecution and for this reason is known as worldís most prosecuted minority in the world with 100,000 people already fleeing to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and other countries. Some 140,000 have been internally displaced and living in refugee camps.

The fresh spat of violence against the Rohingyas began after the ëArakan Rohingya Salvation Armyí (ARSA), formerly known as the Al-Yaqeen Faith Movement attacked several security posts in Burma in August this year.

In retaliation Myanmar state security forces and local armed-residents unleashed a brutal attack against Rohingya Muslim burning many villages and killings around 400 Rohingya.

What is more terrorizing is the fact that the Burmese is showing no concern for the human rights of the Rohingyas. The Burmese military has been acting in such a ruthless mannet that will even put the devil to shame.

What has been learnt is that the Burmese army has been laying landmines across a section of its border with Bangladesh just to prevent the return of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence.

Myanmar, which was under military rule until recently and is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, is one of the few countries that have not signed the 1997 UN Mine Ban Treaty.

The Burmese government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself is a Nobel laureate, is showing no concern for the young and the old as even pregnant women too have not been spared by the Burmese army supported by armed civilian groups.  

The Rohingya crisis can be termed as a worst form of human rights abuse that has been reported in recent times. A recently released report compiled by the UN reveals a shocking picture of the abuse and violence faced by the beleaguered Rohingya minority.

Based on witness testimony, the report documents an ugly series of crimes this Muslim minority group was subjected to during a ëclearance operationí carried out by the Myanmar military.

Amongst the horrific crimes perpetrated are gang rape and murder, including of children in which, the report says, members of the army and police as well as civilians took part.

The narrative in Myanmar is that the Rohingya are not ësons of the soilí and are ëillegal immigrantsí from Bangladesh. Even if this debatable proposition was accepted, would it justify the atrocities the Rohingya have been subjected to? By all standards of human rights, this community has faced unconscionable and consistent abuse from large sections of the majority; there is simply no justification for this horrendous violence.

It is not without reason they have been dubbed the worldís most persecuted minority. The state of Myanmar, especially supposed human rights champion Aung San Suu Kyi, must investigate the claims highlighted by the report.

The global community must also let the Myanmar government know that, if this persecution continues, it cannot be business as usual. Of course, in a global milieu where xenophobia and crude populism have become acceptable, this is a difficult proposition. Even if the Myanmar authorities cannot accept the Rohingya as citizens, they must treat the community with the dignity all human beings deserve.

The silence adopted by Suu Kyi on this burning issue too is nothing less than shameful. Kyi, who herself has been propagating herself as a defender of human rights needs to come clear over the issue. 




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.