Can the UN Stop this Violence?

2012-07-30 19:09

Watching some gruesome images of murdered Rohingya Muslims being circulated on websites brought pain to my heart, tears to my eyes and prayers to my lips, not just because they are Muslims, but because they’re God’s creation. How can human beings be so cruel to other human beings? Like other conscience driven individuals, I too believe in human dignity, preservation of life, equality and human rights for all irrespective of race, colour, religion or creed. It is a crying shame to imagine that many Burmese, who suffered terribly for so long under the Burmese military junta could cherish such racial discrimination and intolerance.

The United Nations has described the Rohingya people in Arakan as the most persecuted and marginalised community in the world, yet their struggle is largely unknown and ignored by most of the media. It is also reported that for many decades Rohingyas have not been issued with birth certificates thus rendering them aliens in their own country. This also means that they have no citizens’ rights and as a result their human rights are open to abuse.

According to some analysts, this issue is fast becoming one of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing, alongside the likes of Rwanda, Bosnia and even the holocaust of the Second World War, thus referring to the Rohingyas as the Palestinians of Asia.

The Rohingyas are presently experiencing the most challenging and painful part of their life or narration. Sadly, their suffering is not being given appropriate attention by the international community. Burma has begun its much lauded democratization process, but in a seemingly selective method. According to reports the Rohingyas are allegedly targeted because they are darker in complexion and are not of the same race and religion of the Buddhist Rakhine majority. It is inconceivable how a peace-loving, all embracing religion of Buddha can resort to such sadistic levels of violence and discrimination.

In recent months, homes, places of worship and villages belonging to the Rohingyas have been completely destroyed. Refugees fleeing to other countries like Bangladesh have been refused entry and left to fend for themselves near borders and in some cases on insecure boats on rough seas.

Due to the repressive press laws in Burma, the real reasons behind the latest wave of brutality against Rohingyas is largely unknown except for the rape and murder of an ethnic Rhakine woman. Rape and murder is a serious crime and the perpetrators should be punished by the justice system but it does not warrant mass scale violence and killing. If a small number of people commit a crime, does it justify branding all minority groups in Myanmar as criminals and hence be massacred?

May I ask why are the advocates of human rights and global leaders ignoring the gross persecution and discrimination being carried out against the Rohingya community in Myanmar (Burma)? Why is there no widespread condemnation and decisive action being taken to stop the ethnic violence and cleansing? Even Myanmar’s opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is outwardly silent on the atrocities being committed against the minority Rohingyas.

If human rights matter in the least bit to our global leaders then immediate intervention strategies need to be implemented to change this tragic situation perpetrated since 1784 when Arakan was conquered by the Burmese King Bodawpaya.

Practical and constructive efforts are needed to support a reconciliation of both Rohingya Muslims and Rakhaning Buddhists in order to move forward. The United Nations should not allow the suffering of the Rohingyas to be exploited on political, ideological, ethnic or on other logistical grounds. The United Nations and world leaders need to intervene urgently and pressurise the Burmese military regime to end its campaign of violence against the Rohingyas before it is too late.

We rightfully have worldwide condemnation of devastation of natural vegetation and cruelty to animals, we have protests and media frenzy against these violations. Then why are we suddenly being so silent on this atrocious oppression of thousands of human beings.

I appeal to all open minded, pro-democracy and unbiased people and organisations, fighting for human rights, justice and peace, to show solidarity towards and support for the Rohingya people in Arakan so that they may be allowed to live a life of dignity and become recognised as citizens of Myanmar.

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