The horror of the terror unleashed on the ethnic Rohingya Muslim population by elements of radical Buddhism acting under the protection of the government of Myanmar, has sent shock waves across the globe. Tales of woes that are supported by graphic images of terror and horror coming out of the killing fields of Myanmar reveal an all new low in racial harmony and world peace. Officially known as the union of Myanmar, this south east Asian country of about 50 million people has become the latest bad news in systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic Rohingya Muslims are an Indo-Aryan people, whose ancestors, like other groups, freely moved in and around the Indian sub-continent and founded settlements in the north western Rakhine state of Myanmar. However the modern state of Myanmar does not recognise them as part of the union, as they are officially considered a migrant group from the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. Consequently, the countries of Myanmar and, interestingly, Bangladesh do not recognise these ethnic Rohingya Muslims as citizens, thereby effectively making them a stateless people. In Myanmar, they are an unwanted and hated illegal migrant group and in Bangladesh, they are reluctantly accepted in limited numbers only as refugees. Stateless and helpless, the condition of ethnic Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar have deteriorated rapidly from marginalisation and discrimination to being hounded and hacked to death like animals by certain radical Buddhist nationalists acting, under the cover of the state of Myanmar. Unfortunately, the internationally recognised leader of the government of Myanmar, under whose watch this atrocities are taking place, is no less a figure than Nobel Peace laureate and globally acclaimed democracy and human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Officially designated as counsellor of state, Suu Kyi is the legitimate and de-facto leader of Myanmar. For a person who has been a beneficiary of international advocacy and support for freedom and political liberty in Myanmar, her initial silence in the face of the entrenched marginalisation, discrimination and persecution of ethnic Rohingya Muslims was disturbing to many around the world. This worrisome situation has now been made worse by the fact that when she finally spoke out, it was in tacit approval of the blood orgy, which she interpreted as an anti-terrorism operation. While down playing the level of carnage taking place in the north western Rakhine state, she described the graphic images of horror of the human tragedy in her country as fake news. She pointed to it as, “simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different communities and with the aim of promoting the interests of the terrorists”. Her continuous living in denial of the truth of the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority group under her leadership is a clear indication that she is not only complicit in but tacitly supports the on-going bloodletting and displacement of thousands of men, women and children.The severity and scale of the genocide taking place in Myanmar can only be compared with what happened during the Holocaust. For not only superintending over such horrific situation of man’s inhumanity to man, but actually justifying this, Aung San Suu Kyi does not deserve to continue holding unto the honour of the revered Nobel Peace Prize. She has betrayed a hitherto concealed emotional sentiment of hate and intolerance towards humanity in this case, like every other radical Buddhist nationalist, and has lost the moral altitude that a Nobel peace laureate should possess in limitless abundance. The situation in Myanmar today runs contrary to the will of Alfred Nobel, the man who instituted the Nobel peace prize, which is supposed to reward individuals who contribute to world peace and racial harmony. For her contribution to the ongoing human tragedy in Myanmar, history will most certainly remember her as the butcher of Yangon, a feat likely to obscure her achievement as a once acclaimed peace advocate.
The atrocity taking place in Myanmar cannot be justified under any circumstance. The stage for the current mass slaughter was set a long time ago. Beginning with the refusal to list the ethnic Rohingya as one the distinct groups that makes up the diverse population and the enactment of the citizenship law of 1982 that effectively stripped them of citizenship rights, coupled with a systematic regime of marginalisation and discrimination, the government of Myanmar had created the basis for the current human tragedy taking place in its north western corner. The mass mobilisation of negative opinion and incitement to violence of the majority Burmese ethnic group against the Rohingya Muslim community was brought about by a sustained hate preaching, both oral and written. As such, these mass killings cannot and should not be presented by the government of Myanmar as an anti-terror operation.
It is evidently clear that men, women and children of the ethnic Rohingya Muslim community of Myanmar are being slaughtered in thousands for no other reason than the accident of their place of birth, ethnicity and religious faith; the same reasons responsible for their historic marginalisation and discrimination. The oppressive treatment of the ethnic Rohingya Muslim community by the government of Myanmar, ably supported by the prevalent sentiment of hate and resentment among the majority Buddhist Burmese, has long reduced the minority Rohingya to an endangered species of mankind. So far, there is no shred of evidence of armed resistance on the part of the Rohingya Muslims, who are currently under attack. This clearly shows them as unarmed, defenceless and undefended, while exposing Aung San Suu Kyi’s excuse of fighting terrorism in the north western Rakhine state as dubious cover for genocide and ethnic cleansing, which is similar to the Nazi style “final solution” of the Jewish question.The world must rise up together and in one voice condemn the atrocities taking place in Myanmar. The world must halt the carnage and mass killings of innocent people by proclaiming “enough” in one firm voice and taking deliberate steps with the urgency required to forestall similar occurrences everywhere and anywhere in the world to say, “never again”. The perpetrators this grievous crime against humanity must not escape justice. They should be tried and prosecuted for war crimes and genocide, to serve as a deterrent for intending future offenders.
One lesson mankind must learn from this unfortunate incidence is to eschew hate for people of different ethnicity, race, faith or region. Hate destroys. Mankind should rise up together and embrace one another, while eschewing hate, otherwise we all shall similarly fall victim of the consequences of hate, which are death and destruction. Mankind must work towards ending oppression even when we are not the immediate victims. Our voices must be heard in condemnation of hate, discrimination, persecution, and destruction of the lives of people irrespective of ethnic, racial, and religious differences. We must not wait to condemn evil only when we are victims or members of our ethnic group, race of religious faith are victims. We must be proactive towards curtailing the excesses of radical elements within our respective divides in order to ensure that elements of reason and moderation prevail.
Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through email@example.com.