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1799: A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in Burma Empire published by Francis Buchanan- The first historical document mentioning the Rooinga or today’s Rohingya.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.


The saddest part of this human tragedy is that it is a monk named Wirathu who has been inciting hatred and violence against the Rohingya Muslims. Yes, every religion has its share of extremists and psychos, but when a monk preaches hate…

Please make time to watch the following videos to understand the conflict. I don’t think I could summarize them well enough to capture the gist.


Who Are The Rohingya Of Myanmar?

Myanmar’s Anti-Muslim Monks

Rohingya Migrants Abandoned at Sea

A monk in following video claims that under Sharia Laws, Muslims are required to spit into the food and drinks that they serve to non Muslims, therefore, Buddhists should not eat at Muslim hotels and restaurants. I almost fell off my chair laughing. Einstein was right — human stupidity is infinite. I feel most sorry for people who believe this ignorant, lying monk.


The Racist Monk of Myanmar
(Ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims by the government in Myanmar)

Rohingya Cleansing in Arakan of Burma

Inside Story – Why is the world ignoring Myanmar’s


Now that we’re clear about what’s causing the Rohingya to flee in fear of their lives, let’s ask ourselves what we could or should do about it. Judging from the many comments on social media, many believe the Rohingya is not our problem. Just leave them at sea. The more humane ones said that we should give them food and water and then send them back — I think this is a brilliant idea — give them food and water so they don’t starve and send them back to be slaughtered.

This sums up what’s wrong with humans today. Many believe that if something doesn’t impact them personally, then it’s none of their business and there’s no reason for them to worry their pretty little heads. But the truth is, when we turn our back on other people’s suffering, we create a black dot in our heart. We harden our heart little by little until eventually there is no compassion left. Maybe the reason they’re so heartless is because they don’t believe anything bad could happen to them. I hope they’re right.

Some even argue that there is no reason why Malaysia should waste its tax payers’ money on assisting non-citizens when so many of our fellow Malaysians are in need. Perhaps they’re right, perhaps there is a point there. But somehow, that doesn’t feel right. Firstly, because that is scarcity mentality — people who think that way believe there is only a limited amount of resources, and therefore, we should hoard as much as possible to ensure our own comfort. Secondly, doesn’t Islam teach us that when we practice sadaqa and act of charity and help the needy, Allah will reward us with an abundance of rezeki from sources beyond our expectations?

I feel that Syed Azmi, a well-known social activist, summed it up well.



Ang Choo Hong, the advisor of the Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia, said that
Wirathu is not a terrorist. Wirathu is a mere radical whose opinion is not supported by all Buddhists.

Of course Wirathu does not represent Buddhism. Of course not all Buddhists agree with him. Of course Wirathu is not a terrorist — he can’t possibly be because he is not a Muslim. And of course it is not a religious conflict — it is just an unfortunate coincidence that Buddhists are slaughtering Muslims and Buddhist monks are the inciters and propagators of hate. That has absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism.

I couldn’t help but wonder… If Buddha were here today, would he approve of what Wirathu is doing and would he defend Wirathu in the way that Ang Choo Hong had done?

However……… can you imagine what would happen if a Muslim were to defend Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and said that he were not a terrorist? Muslims don’t have the luxury of being a radical. Muslims don’t have the luxury of being mentally ill. If a Muslim commits a crime, it must be because he is a terrorist. That is the only acceptable explanation because Islam is a religion that promotes violence. Muslims don’t have the luxury of denouncing the wackos who just happened to be Muslims as radicals or extremists. One Muslim commits a crime, and the entire Muslim ummah has to bear the burden of defending their faith.

That is the double standard and hypocrisy that we are dealing with today.

The Rohingya issue is about speaking up for and helping a weak and oppressed people. Doesn’t matter what religion they believe in or what colour their skin is. If the situation were reversed and it was the Rohingya who were persecuting the Myanmar Buddhists, I would still say it is wrong simply because it is wrong. It it were the Buddhists who were fleeing by boats and stranded at sea, I would still say we should rescue them simply because it is the right thing to do.

I would like to end this by pointing out the biggest irony and hypocrisy that this catastrophe has shed light on. If it were the Rohingya Muslims persecuting, raping, mass murdering and expelling the Myanmar Buddhists, have no doubt the the main stream media (read: BBC, CNN, Fox News and the like) would within a heartbeat use this to tell the world that this is the reality and cruelty of Islam — that Islam is intolerant, violent and advocates the annihilation of all infidels. Unfortunately, what happens here is the cleansing of a Muslim ethnic minority, so who cares. Muslim tears and blood are cheap!


The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of people who are evil,
but because of people who don’t do anything about it.

~Albert Enstein

LINKS
Who are the Rohingya?

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