By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
It is human to hate pain. Therefore, humans hate to see others in pain. Humans, thereby, feel sympathy and empathy when they see others in pain. Not only this but human make it their resolve to work out the means and methods which could relieve the pain of those who are in pain. And, to achieve this they are ready to sacrifice their time, energy and resources.
Having said that, sometimes human behavior becomes hard to decipher, we expect something and diametrically opposite action or behavior is displayed by them. This erratic and unexpected behavior is in display in case of the Rohingya Muslims. They are beaten, butchered, charred and chopped but hardly any sympathy, empathy or actions to provide any relief to them are in sight.
Since the past couple of months, horrifying pictures and video-clips of Rohingya Muslims have done rounds on social media on a regular basis. These images are powerful enough to wrench hearts of common masses, but they fail to stir the conscience of champions of humanity whose every utterance starts and ends with “Peace”. Consequently, their plight is going unnoticed by world at large even when news about abuse of these misfortunate people continues to strike our audio-visual senses.
Before commenting on the persecution they face, it is important to know the root cause of the crisis .According to many historians and Rohingya groups, Muslims have lived in the area now known as Myanmar since the early 12th century. During the British rule, there was a significant amount of migration of laborers to Myanmar from today’s India and Bangladesh. Such migration was considered internal because the British administered Myanmar was q province of British India. After the British rule ended, there was change in attitude of government towards them which viewed their migration as illegal. On this basis, the administration refused citizenship to majority of Rohingyas even though their roots can be traced back to centuries. It is from here that crises emanated that encouraged the rest of population especially Buddhists to consider them non-natives. They started punishing and persecuting Rohingyas on their own, and even in connivance of the government which continues to even this day. Rohingyas are being denied citizenship and are not considered one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups, rendering them stateless.
Being ‘stateless’ and in governmental terminology ‘without identity’, is their only crime that makes them to suffer the worst form of treatment , as per the available images on the social media. The Rohingyas have been declared the most persecuted minority in the world for no fault of theirs. They are being oppressed from years now. However, the oppression has dramatically risen from past few years .In 2012, hundreds were killed and about lacs were forced to live in exile. Over the past year, militarily operations against Rohingya villages have been so intense and cruel that minority’s defenders have warned of a Humanitarian Catastrophe and UN has reported that army may have committed ethnic cleansing. The latest militarily crackdown caused almost 90,000 Rohingyas to flee across the Bangladeshi border in just two weeks .Officially, close to 400 people had died by early September, but human rights activists claim to have confirmation of at least thousand deaths and believe the figure is much higher. There are stories of burning properties, ransacking, sexual abuse, force or early marriages that are yet to find an end. Although, Bangladesh has provided them shelter for time being but there is no end to their woes. According to latest reports, 58% of about sixty-thousand Rohingya refugees are children who suffer from severe malnutrition and are exposed to infectious diseases having sempiternal needs with sufferings deepening.
In the existing political conditions, it is easy to legitimate anything by linking it with terrorism, so the one raising voice against relentless oppression is given the name “Terrorist”. Following the same, the Myanmar administration has adopted a similar approach and blames the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the group formed to defend rights of Rohingyas against militarily oppression, for violence. The latter reportedly carried attacks on militarily camps of which evidences have not been yet provided by the government. Even if the news about the attack is true, does this legitimate the genocide? Why don’t government think tanks scratch their heads to know the cause of uprising, what has given birth to insurgency and what has pushed young men to rise against government? It must always be remembered that the impossibility of peaceful revolution makes violent revolution inevitable.
No doubt, the UN, UNHRC, human right associations along with some leaders have broken their silence and have come down heavily on Aung San Suu Kyi, however, the impact has not been adequate. People of the world concerned about human rights can , at least, condemn savagery, can hold marches in their solidarity, leaders can issue denouncing statements but the UN being the authoritative organization only can save them and all other communities facing mass atrocities. It has to work much beyond than only being a pulpit of haranguers. It has to ensure what it has been established for. Resolutions now need to be implemented. Now words need to be translated into action. If there is any alternative to action, it is letting people be killed.
Without any exaggeration, the sad plight of Rohingyas repeatedly questions all those who take pride of being Nobel peace laureates and the organizations and institutions which given them those prizes for being mute spectators of this agony and genocide. Tearful eyes are eagerly looking for someone to come to alleviate their indescribable suffering. Their screams are resonating to find hearing sense of international community , chiefly of the United Nations to provide them long overdue justice. Literally, these people described as friendless are looking for friends who will share their pain and speak on their behalf so that they can live a dignified life. Candidly, apathy towards them amounts to inhumanity which is challenge to our main element, humanity.
—The author works in the Department of education. He can be reached at: [email protected]