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My Heart Broke into a Million Pieces

My heart broke at the image of Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body. I thought nothing could be more heart wrenching. I was wrong. Omran broke my heart into a million pieces.



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The War on Terror is an Epic Failure

My heart bleeds for the victims of the Paris attack last Friday. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain their families and friends are going through.

My heart bleeds for Paris in the same way that it bleeds for Lebanon that was attacked just two days earlier.

In the same way that my heart bleeds for the mass murder of students in Kenya.

In the same way that my heart bleeds for the Iraqis and Afghans who were murdered, tortured and raped on the pretext of keeping the world safe for terrorism.

In the same way that my heart bleeds for the Palestinians who, after six decades, still live under Israel’s brutal occupation.

What I find disturbing is they way people responded / reacted to the Paris attack. Lebanon was attacked in the same week, but I didn’t see the same outrage as for the Paris attack. Why do people behave as if some lives matter more than others?

Obama’s statement was most comical: “Once again we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris; it’s an attack not just on the people of France.” This coming from a man whose drones have killed and injured many civilians. Why are the lives of civilians in Pakistan or Yemen less valuable than those in Paris?

To all who blame Islam and Muslims for the attack, I say this to you: If you don’t know the difference between me and those criminals, then you are a part of the problem. By believing that the problem is Islam and Muslims, you have let the dark side win. By succumbing to your hatred and prejudice, by vilifying 1.6 billion people, you’re letting them win. Not everything is what it seems and by failing to see what is behind the smoke screen, you have let them win.

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Tony Blair Apologized for Invading Iraq

Tony Blair apologized for invading Iraq. He claimed that the ‘mistake’ was due to incorrect intelligence. He, however, did not apologize for removing Saddam.

Seriously, what was he thinking? Did he really think that he can just apologize and everything will be forgiven and forgotten? A few days after his apology, I still couldn’t wrap my head around it. An apology for destroying lives and murdering people who never committed a crime. How does that work?

How does his apology make things right for the children left orphaned, for the women and children raped by the invading soldiers, for unarmed civilians murdered for no justifiable reason, for the people forced to become refugees, for the people he turned into beggars, for the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for a lie? He can apologize until the cows come home and it still wouldn’t make it right. His apology neither heal people nor rebuild their country.

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Humanity Washed Ashore

People don’t become refugees because they want to. They become refugees because they have no other choice. The Syrians who are fleeing their war-torn country once had a home, a family, a job, a business. They were surrounded by people they love. They did not ask for their homes and lives to be destroyed. The war is not their making, not their choice.

People who look at refugees fleeing from war with disdain forget one very important thing. Sometimes we have no control over our fate; sometimes the decision and greed of others shape our destiny. You may consider the refugees as a burden to your country, but you forget that by a twist of fate, it could be you who are fleeing from your war-torn country. I hope you will be shown the same level of compassion when you need it.

The image of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a beach was heart wrenching. It finally opened the eyes of people around the globe of the desperation of many fleeing the war. How many had met a similar fate before Alan? I can only hope that he was the last.

Alan’s aunt asked that people stop sharing the photo of his lifeless body and share the photo of him happy and smiling. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking… knowing that we are all a little guilty of killing his smile.

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Plight of the Rohingya and Its Challenge to Humanity

How and when did we as a species lost our compassion and empathy? Have our hearts become so harden and cold that we can easily turn our back on the suffering of others? Why should it matter if they do not share our skin colour or belief?

The Rohingya, who fled the Rakhine state of Burma in fear of their lives are stranded at sea. Neighbouring countries refuse to take them in. Many have starved to death or died in their journey. Many too have fallen victims to human traffickers.

The Myanmar government claimed that the Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denied that they are citizens. The Myanmar government has a history of oppression against its ethnic minority. Its denial of the Rohingya claim to citizenship is a strategy to get rid of them.

Contrary to Myanmar official stand and policy, the Muslim Rohingya has a long history. The presence of a Muslim community in Arakan can be traced back to the eighth century. The British colonial government encouraged immigration to Myanmar from modern-day India and Bangladesh. These people inter-marry with the local Muslims, which explains the physical feature of the Rohingya.

The fact is, when the Constitution of the Union of Burma was proclaimed along with Burma’s first citizenship laws in 1947, the Rohingya was recognized as citizens and they voted in the first Constituent Assembly Elections. They haven’t been recognised as citizens of The Union of Burma since the 1962 coup d’etat by General Ne Win. After decades of oppression and marginalisation, the passing of the 1982 Citizenship Law deemed them officially stateless.

Timeline

  • 8th century: Dated Rohingya ancestry in Arakan.
  • 1785: Arakan was conquered by the Burmese army.
  • 1799: A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in Burma Empire published by Francis Buchanan- The first historical document mentioning the Rooinga or today’s Rohingya.
  • 1947: Constitution of the Union of Burma is proclaimed with some of Burma’s first citizenship laws. The Rohingya vote in the 1st Constituent Assembly Elections.
  • 1948: Independent Union of Burma is created.
  • 1959: Rohingya recognised as race with equal rights, by Prime Minister U Ba Sue.
  • 1962: General Ne Win overthrows U Nu government in a military coup.
  • 1978: Operation Naga Min was launched, Rohingya targeted and massacred; 250,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh.
  • 1982: Burma Citizenship Law enacted, no longer recognized Rohingya as citizens; 800,000 Rohingya left stateless.
  • 1982 onwards: Rohingya subjected to abuse, forced labour, harassment, rape, arbitrary land seizure, destruction of property.
  • 2012: 2 waves of violence erupted between the Rohingya and Rakhine in Arakan, devastating both community resulting in mass killings and torture, 135,000 Rohingya displaced whom now live in IDP camps in the Sittwe township.

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