By Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
This is an SOS to halt the unprecedented escalation in the persecution of Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. Over the last ten days alone, nearly 125,000 of them have fled over the border to Bangladesh to avoid a military attack that killed at least 400 Rohingyas. The intensity of violence is growing, so is the volume of exodus.
The world does not seem to be sufficiently sensitised to the situation even though there are clear signs of widespread grief and unease about the world’s attitude of cold detachment from the gruesome events. This is only the latest spurt in anti-Rohingya violence in a long series of such events over the decades.
The last ten days’ exodus amounts to nearly 10 percent of the Muslim Rohingya population of 1.1. million. What has amazed concerned people all over the world is Nobel laureate Suu Kyi’s mysterious silence over the humanitarian disaster. Betraying the trust of her Nobel Peace Prize, she has always kept mum on the issue over the years, which has prompted another Nobel laureate, Malala Yusufzai, to remark that she is waiting to hear from Suu Kyi. In the past Suu Kyi has remarked, shockingly, “Which country does not have human rights issues?”
Rohingyas have been living in Rakhine state in Myanmar since the 15th century. Yet, they are denied citizenship and civil rights. Continuous persecution has brutalised them to the extent that a small section among them has taken to the counter-productive way of extremism, which ultimately gives the Myanmar government and military a pretext to intensify persecution.
This is to appeal to the world to take measures through UN Security Council to immediately stop the bloodshed, start reconstruction and development of the area and restore the Rohingyas’ human and civil rights. We also request the involvement of the United States, European Union, OIC, Russia, China and India in bringing peace to Rakhine state and facilitating return of refugees.
Right at the moment when Rohingyas fleeing persecution need shelter, support and sympathy in neighbouring countries, the Union minister of state for home Kiren Rajju has announced that the government is planning to deport the harried Rohingya refugees in India. As if to deflect criticism of this heartless move, the government has said it plans to deport “all refugees”, from whatever country they came.
In any case, there is little sympathy from the government for the Rohingyas. It was evident in the statement of a foreign ministry spokesperson some time ago when the government wholeheartedly supported the Myanmarese state and condemned the persecuted Rohingyas as “terrorists”. There was no attempt to look at the nuances or any sympathy for the victims of state persecution.
In his statement during his visit to Myanmar on September 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India shared the concern of Myanmar over “extremist violence” in Rakhine state, thus effectively cancelling out the side of Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh (125,000 of them) to escape death at the hands of government forces.
We hope that the Indian government will develop a more nuanced and humanitarian stance on the Rohingyas in days ahead. We also request the UN Security Council, the European Union and major powers of the world to act quickly to end bloodshed and facilitate the return and rehabilitation of the refugees in Rakhine state.