Plight of Rohingya Muslims

Civil wars in Myanmar (Burma – a previous British colony) have been a part of Myanmar’s socio-political life since its independence in 1948, a usual colonial legacy.

Muslims in the Rakhine State of Myanmar are a major part of the stateless Indo-Aryan Rohingya people who claim Rakhine to be their homeland for generations, and according to the UN, are one of the most persecuted communities in the world, mostly Muslims because of a civil war between the Rohingya Muslims, and the government and non-government groups in Rakhine State.

More recently, the Muslim community has been under a military siege in Rakhine since October 2016. But on August 25 this year, Myanmar’s military intensified attacks on Rohingya Muslims.

Rohingya children have been beheaded and civilians burned alive, according to witness testimony amid claims that Burma’s military and paramilitary forces are committing “genocide” against the Muslim minority in the country’s western Rakhine state.

“This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine State may be far worse than originally thought,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for the Human Rights Watch.

The military action, along with a blockade on Rakhine State, has left thousands of people stranded without essential life-saving supplies in the conflict area, The Guardian reported on Monday.

The Myanmar government has blocked all United Nations aid agencies from delivering food, water and medicine to Rohingya Muslims.

Humanitarian organizations are “deeply concerned about the fate of thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence” in Rakhine, said Pierre Peron, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar.

Myanmar police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

According to a United Nations report published this Monday, a total of 87,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims—including women and children, many with bullet wounds— have arrived in Bangladesh since last month. They say that military forces attacked, burned villages and shot civilians, forcing many thousands of people to take perilous boat journeys across the Naf River, which separates Myanmar from Bangladesh.

Most world leaders, including Muslims, remain silent in the face of the massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

While Turkey and Indonesia have spoken against the Myanmar’s atrocities, the oil rich Muslim countries have not, nor have those working closely with China despite that China remains Myanmar’s largest foreign investor, with permitted enterprises valued at over $18.5 billion.

India could also play a positive role in addressing atrocities in Myanmar because of its historic cultural and ethnic ties and that Aung San Suu Kyi spent much of her youth in India, studied in New Delhi and remarked that she considered India  her ‘second home.’ But then why should they help in easing out these atrocities!

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