“THE MASSACRE OF ROHINGYA MUSLIMS GOES ON IN ARAKAN, BURMA,” BUT THE WORLD KEEPS SILENCE!
(Mayupress) The sectarian unrest is no new strange human tragedy in Arakan, the northern province of Burma where minority Muslim Rohingyas have been attacked by Buddhists for quite again and again.
The persecution of the stateless Rohingyas had started for decades of years. The Muslims make up nearly five percent among more than 53 million populations. And the largest group of Burma’s Muslims is generally known as the Rohingyas, who mainly live generations to generations in the western state of Arakan or Rakhine.
Elsewhere rape or murder is a crime, and there are laws to deal with a rapist or murderer, according to an analyst*.
I am sure in Burma there must be instances of a Buddhist committing such crime against a Buddhist. Usually none bothers to find out what religion the rapist belongs to. It is completely unfair that Burmese Buddhists target the entire Muslim community with accusation to Muslims being no proper investigation. It is clear that they used the rape as an excuse to step up the mysterious assaults to Rohingyas who have been attacked for some years.
Persecution of the Rohingyas in Burma has reached terrible level in recent weeks. Since June 10, a state of Emergency has been imposed across Arakan; Burmese President U Thein Sein has instigated martial law, giving the military administrative control of the region.
Now the security forces have ganged up with the Rakhine Buddhists in attack against the Rohingyas. International media or other independent observers are not allowed in the areas where Rohingyas are holed up.
Some thousands of Rohingyas have been brutally killed and hundreds of Rohingya houses and businesses have been looted or set on fire in the past two months. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other rights groups have condemned the government forces for taking partisan role and supporting the Rakhine gangs. Scores of mosques have been vandalized. The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas is going on and the government of Burma is the key sponsor of the anti-Rohingya pogrom.
Rakhine shops have stopped selling foodstuffs and other provisions to Rohingyas. State personnel are openly asking Rohingyas to leave the country or starve to death. Most Rohingyas are not being allowed to run their businesses, serving agricultural farms or other incoming sources
Some Rohingyas have attempted to flee to Bangladesh by taking along the women and children. However, the Bangladesh government has issued orders to close its borders to these refugees despite repeated calls from the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and several other global rights groups as well as organizations, such as the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Asian Human Rights Commission.
These groups have asked Dhaka to offer refugee status to Burma’s minority Muslim Rohingyas against the backdrop of the deadly violence in the country’s Buddhist dominated Arakan state.
More than 1,200,000 Rohingyas are lying trapped in their own localities in Arakan. They have no place to escape and they are dying miserable deaths.
The Rohingya has been described as “among the world’s least wanted” and “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities”. Evidence has been gathered suggesting that the Burmese regime has marked certain ethnic minorities such as the Karen for extermination or ‘Burmanisation’.
The inhuman tyrannical government, which operates unrelenting internal security machinery, generally infiltrates or monitors the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations.
Religious freedom for all Muslims and Christians is almost entirely absent. It is just months passed since pro-democracy activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi belatedly received the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, but her silence and blind eye towards the atrocities of Rohingya Muslims has made the world wonder if her selection for the “esteemed honor” was proper.
Even an appeal for an international assistance from several Rohingya organizations around the world have fallen on deaf ears and have received little attention from the international community since it has been more subtle and indirect than the mass killings in places like Rwanda.
The West has literally turned a blind eye to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma in an attempt to maintain its economic interests in the Burma’s lucrative market. To them the violent targeting of Burmese minorities arrived at a time when the US and Britain have called off their pro-democracy campaign against the country’s junta.
Regrettably the West’s silence over the bloody crackdown on Rohingya Muslims comes at a time when Western companies have jumped into Burma in an attempt to counterbalance the near-exclusive Chinese control over the Burma market. Even the silence of the United States is not unwarranted as it has deeper financial reasons.
President Barak Obama has recently lifted the ban on American investment in the country and Britain has opened a trade office in Yangon on July 11.
While it seems Burma has become a destination for capital investment now, as the United States, the European Union and Canada, Australia have accepted the government’s narrative of democratic transition and have largely lifted the economic sanctions enforced since mid eighties.
The United State looks to have overviewed what the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on her visit to Burma late last year when she welcomed Burma’s first steps toward democratization, but had set down conditions for strengthening bilateral ties, that included an end to ethnic violence!
For the international news agencies, most parts of Arakan are still media blockage zone. So, specific details of killing and harassments of Rohingyas are not reaching the mainstream media. Some Rohingya youths from different countries, using special sources are regularly collecting news from villages which are being targeted by the Rakhines and the security forces and circulating them among refugee community and others spread across other countries.
There is a report I happened to get in the first week of this month through a Human Rights Activist, in the UK that depicts the enormity of the situation. Worthy worst, the mainstream media is not using such info to expose the atrocities perpetrated by the Rakhine Buddhists and Burmese security forces in Arakan.
Obviously, it is clarified that the number of Rohingyas killed in the past two months would run into several thousands. Yet the government says the death toll is not more than 180.
This is found that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas is sponsored by the state. It is disappointing that even the Dalai Lama, who is very vocal about the Chinese aggressions into Tibet and democratic icon Suu Kyi have not spoken out against the persecution of the Rohingyas in Burma.
*(Analyst is Mohamed Farooq, a B.Sc. Engineer in Electrical & Electronics).
US rewarding Myanmar for massacring Muslims
A LETTER FOR AMERICANS
Dear American Buddhist brothers and sisters,
I am writing to every contact listed at Buddhanet.info’s American Buddhist Directory to ask:
Are you aware of the ongoing genocide in Myanmar (Burma) — a genocide that is being committed in the name of Buddhism?
And did you know that the United States of America bears responsibility for this genocide, since the US has been rewarding the Myanmar regime with ever-closer political and economic ties during recent months of accelerating atrocities?
As American Buddhists, you are in a position to help stop this genocide, by pressuring the US and Myanmar governments as well as international human rights organizations. Your visible participation in the campaign to save the Rohingya people from extermination by murderous Buddhist fanatics will not only help draw the world’s attention to this horrific situation, but also help restore the image of Buddhism as a religion of compassion.
The facts about the genocide in Myanmar are not in dispute. The fanatical Buddhist nationalists, who unfortunately represent a large segment of the roughly 60 million Buddhists in Myanmar, admit that they are trying to uproot and exterminate the roughly one million Muslim Rohingya from land that the Rohingya have lived on for centuries.
Here is what a typical genocidal Buddhist fanatic from Myanmar wrote in a comment on a Wall Street Journal article:
“Burma is Buddhist nation created for the 135 Tibeto-Burman tribes. People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries. Please do not interfere with the law and internal affairs of Burma just as you do not like other nations to poke their nose in your internal affairs.”
“People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries.” This statement, which aptly sums up the official policy of the Burmese regime, could get the person who made it, and the government that follows it, hanged for crimes against humanity.
Obviously, being born in a modern nation to a family that has been there for centuries automatically confers citizenship. And obviously, any modern nation that denies citizenship to such people, burns their homes and communities, and murders them en masse, with the aim of removing them from the nation of their birth, is committing the internationally-recognized crime of genocide.
In recent weeks, many thousands of homes, and more than 20 mosques, have been burned by murderous Buddhist mobs, backed by national security forces, in the Arakan state of Myanmar. Estimates of the number of Rohingya Muslims murdered, whether directly or by drowning in the Naf River, as they flee the killers, range from the thousands to the tens of thousands.
Every one of the more than 500 mosques in Arakan has been taken over by the genocidal regime’s security forces and shut down, and they are being demolished one-by-one. (This happened during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to spend as much time as possible in a mosque.)
Muslims have been living in Burma since roughly 800 c.e. — that is, nearly for as long as the religion of Islam has existed. And Arakan has been a Muslim region, ruled by Muslim kings and/or populated by Bengali Muslims, since 1430.
The most notable population increase of Muslims in Arakan took place in the 1600s. The idea that the Rohingya people are somehow “recent immigrants” to the region is clinically insane — a symptom of the larger insanity known as nationalist fanaticism.”
Both Buddhism and Islam are universalist religions: They proclaim truths that are valid for all people, indeed for all of existence. And the core truth that both religions proclaim is the primacy of compassion. In Buddhism, a central feature of the Buddha nature is compassion for all beings. If one were to choose a single hallmark of a successful advanced practitioner of Buddhism, it would be a highly-developed sense of compassion.
Whatever has happened to the Myanmar Buddhists’ compassion for their fellow citizens who happen to be born as Rohingyas?
Islam, too, views compassion as a central reality of creation. Muslim theologians, like the more advanced Christian and Jewish religious thinkers, view God as ineffable; but the primary and overriding tangible characteristic of God in Islam (with the proviso that no tangible characteristics fully express the reality of the one ineffable God) is rahma, or compassion.
The two adjectives Muslims use the most to “describe” God are ar-rahman ar-rahim, usually translated as “the merciful, the compassionate.” (The root of rahma and its cognates derives from the word for “womb,” suggesting that this “compassion” has something in common with the nurturing, all-embracing, unconditional love that mothers feel for their children.)
Additionally, both Buddhism and Islam teach us to transcend or even annihilate the (tribal) ego. Buddhism offers a set of teachings that take its practitioners beyond the ego, which is the source of the endless desire that is the cause of the pervasive suffering or disappointment that characterizes ordinary human existence.
Likewise, Islam teaches its serious practitioners to annihilate the “ego that desires evil” through absolute submission to God. Each religion offers a very similar cure for the unhappiness of the ordinary human condition.
The kind of chest-thumping egotistical nationalism that proclaims “I am a Buddhist, my heroic nation is Buddhist, I am so much better than those non-Buddhists that I must kill them or exile them” is about as far from the compassionate teachings of the Buddha as it is possible to get.
Likewise, extremist Muslims who proclaim that their narrow version of Islam is the only truth, and that everyone who disagrees should be killed, are equally far from the universal, all-compassionate message proclaimed by God through Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him).
Muslims and Buddhists ought to unite against ego-driven nationalist fanaticism, which is an affront to both religious traditions. A good starting point would be joining forces against the genocide in Myanmar. Below are some suggestions for action.
Suggestions for action:
1. Write and call Myanmar’s government contacts pointing out that every modern nation agrees that anyone born inside a nation, whose parents and ancestors also lived on that territory, is automatically a citizen of that nation and must be protected by that nation’s government.
2. Contact Amnesty International’s International Secretariat and Amnesty International USA to demand that they issue an Appeal for Action to save the Rohingya people.
3. Contact Human Rights Watch to thank them for their attempts to bring attention to the plight of the Rohingya, and ask them to do more.
4. Contact the Center for Justice and Accountability to ask that they seek the prosecution of Myanmar leaders for genocide.
5. Contact The Carter Center to suggest that Jimmy Carter attempt to visit Arakan to bring humanitarian relief and stop the genocide.
6. Contact the Genocide Intervention Network and ask them to accelerate their efforts to stop the genocide in Myanmar.
7. Contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UNHCR Refugee Agency, and the UNHCR Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to demand an end to the genocide in Myanmar.
8. Contact your congressional representative and ask him or her to introduce legislation to pressure the Myanmar junta to stop the genocide.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host. He is the co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance, and author of the books Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie (2007) and Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters (2009). His website is http://www.truthjihad.com. (HSH)