Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Persistent Painful Plight of the Rohingya

Buddhism is considered to be one of the most peaceful, compassionate and loving religions of the world as disseminated by Siddharta Gautam thousands of years ago. However, the inhuman butchering of Rohingya Muslims by the Buddhist monks suggests totally the opposite. After having been persecuted in Myanmar for over three decades, the 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to an increased persecution since 2012, while the international community merely waits for Myanmar to democratise. Joke!

At least 120,000 Rohingyas were rounded up into camps as a Buddhist national movement is aimed at pushing them out of the country. The result has been that most Rohingya are now looking for a way out of the country, which has led to a dangerous international human trafficking network borne out of the sheer desperation of the Rohingya people.

Over the last year, at least 90,000 Rohingya have left the country in dingy boats looking for greener pastures, but no country is willing to let them in. Neighbouring countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, have merely attempted to clamp down on their movement, but no one has promised them a new home.

The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar by sea since ethnic and sectarian violence erupted. Sadly, the government has forcibly segregated Rohingya from the rest of the population in Rakhine state. Their own country refuses to recognize them as a legitimate ethnic group and as citizens of Myanmar. Thus, the persecuted community faces daily prejudice and many restrictions on their movements, family size and job opportunities.

Financially sound Rohingya Muslims escape to more vulnerability as they are taken out on small boats to cargo ships by smugglers, mostly bound for Malaysia. Thailand is the first stop on the most common trafficking route used by criminals preying upon the desperate Rohingya as well as Bangladeshis seeking to escape poverty.

The U.N. human rights chief said the deadly pattern of migration by sea across the Bay of Bengal would continue unless Myanmar itself ends discrimination.

After years of turning a blind eye to the exodus, Myanmar’s navy in the last fortnight discovered two boats with more than 900 migrants who were brought to Rakhine. It classes them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, even though many trace their origins back through generations.

The boat people were brought ashore in Indonesia, but other vessels crammed with migrants were sent back to sea despite a UN call to rescue thousands adrift in Southeast Asian waters with dwindling supplies of food and water. However, in the same waters, the Indonesian navy pushed another boat back and Thailand's navy towed a wooden vessel with hundreds, including children, on board back out to sea.

International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies will be held in Chiang Mai on 24-25 July 2015. It will be co-hosted by the Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS), Chiang Mai University, the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD): Myanmar Center, the Faculty of Humanities at Chiang Mai University and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, The Netherlands. The conference will provide a forum for scholars, journalists, NGO workers and observers from Burma/Myanmar, Thailand and other countries across the globe to get the latest updates on Burma/Myanmar Studies.

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for refugees) seeks US$13 million to help with the needs of new boat arrivals in South-East Asia, where thousands of refugees and migrants have been crossing the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Pakistan contribution:

Chairman Imran Khan(PTI) has protested against this persecution of Muslims in Myanmar and has strongly urged the UN Secretary-General to immediately take action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to ameliorate the plight of the Muslims in this unfortunate land.

And, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved all the recommendations of the Special Committee regarding the plight of Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar including $5 million in food assistance.

The prime minister will also be writing to the United Nations (UN) Secretary General to express Pakistan’s stance on the issue of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The statement went on to say that the PM will also write a letter regarding the issue to the UN Security Council.

The statement further said that PM Nawaz will inform the UN in detail about the nature of the crisis.

Solidarity Day: The Pakistan Senate on Tuesday approved a resolution against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar declaring June 12 as the day of solidarity with the Muslims in Myanmar. It went on to say that the government should take up the issue with the United Nations (UN) as well as the international community. The resolution further stated that the government of Pakistan should also take the matter to the International Court of Justice. It also stated that a Pakistani delegation should be sent to Myanmar to communicate Pakistan's stance on the issue.

Malaysia contributed to some extent as it has been a sort of Promised Land for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar. The tens of thousands who endured perilous journeys to get there find more work opportunities than in Indonesia and a more Muslim-friendly environment than in Thailand.

Pakistan together with the organization of Islamic countries (OIC) and the Arab league should proceed to help out the suffering Rohingia Muslims; they must openly condemn the atrocities unleashed by the hard-line military regime in Myanmar.

The international community should be pushing Myanmar to take care of their own people. Surely, the UN must impose sanctions on Myanmar, sooner the better.


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