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General News    H4'ed 8/11/12

Turning a Blind Eye to the Massacre of Burmese Muslims

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Since June 2012, reportedly 20,000 Burmese Muslims are brutally persecuted, displaced and killed in the name of religion, race and ethnic cleansing. The actual reason for this ongoing sectarian violence in Burma (Myanmar) is unknown. It is reported that these riots started on 3rd June 2012 when 11 Rohingya Muslims were taken out of the bus and killed by the Burmese Army and the Buddhist Rakhines in the Northern Rakhine state of Burma (formerly known as Arakan).   According to   Amnesty International , since 1978, the  800,000 Rohingya Muslims have suffered from severe human rights violation as they are considered as illegal immigrants, non citizens and foreigners.


The history unfolded to Burmese about the forced conversions of Buddhists under the Mughal rule which developed anti- Muslims sentiments. In 1930's, there were "Anti-Muslim's" and "Burma for Burmese Only" campaigns under the British rule. The Buddhists denied Muslims claim that there ancestors were settled in Burma since 9th Century and practically barred Rohingya Muslims from being recognized as Myanmarese nationals under the constitution. After 1948 Independence, The Burma Muslim Congress was cut out from the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist Peoples' Freedom Party) and was later dissolved. There was expulsion of Muslim soldiers from army and strict reservations were imposed on cow slaughter and pilgrimage.


The 1982 Citizenship Act does not recognize the Rohingya as one of Burma's national races and exclude it from the citizenship right. Under such drastic circumstances, the rich Muslims gradually took refugee to neighbouring states like Bangladesh and India. The poorer Muslims were left in a deplorable condition at the mercy of Buddhists who deprived them from all socio-economic and political rights. There were also anti Muslims riots in Mandalay (1997) and Taungoo (2001) in the name of racial violence. The situation aggravated after 9/11, as violence was now committed in the name of Islamic extremism against the Burmese Muslims.

With such appalling history, the present violence seems a thread to the knot, as the Burmese are determined to repeat the holocaust for ethnic cleansing of Muslims from their Burmese soil. Myanmar's President Thein Sein clearly mentioned that there are two tangible solutions: either to expel all Rohingya Muslims to a third country or sending them to refugee camps under the oversight of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has been denied. Even the Bangladesh has refused to accept any Burmese Muslims refugees and has banned aid to them. No permanent solution has yet been formulated to resolve their identity crisis, issue of citizenship and settlement rights of Burmese Muslims.


At this juncture, the helpless and disappointed Burmese Muslims, one of the largest stateless community in Asia, look toward world community for a practical solution but unfortunately the world has turned a blind eye to the massacre of Burmese Muslims. No serious action has been taken by UN and OIC in real terms. USA, Human Right Organizations and Peace activists seem less interested to bother about the Burmese Muslims genocide. The media reports, photographs and videos are termed as faked/ invalid and less western media coverage is given to the issue. Why so? Just because these are not Americans, Israelis or Westerners instead ill-fated Muslims who are being butchered at the hands of monks? Is it just an internal affair of the Burma? Is USA and UN too busy placating new Burmese democratic government? Where is the peaceful compassion of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu kyi gone while speaking about the Rohingya Muslims? Is social reform and protection of human and ethnic rights not part of Burmese reform agenda?


These are the queries which need an immediate response by the western world. The cold and inhuman response by the western community has agitated the Muslims all over the world, who have strongly condemned the genocide of their Burmese Muslims brothers and sisters. The world wide rallies/protests and public demonstrations are staged demanding Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and UN to intervene for the cause of Burmese Muslims. The Secretary General of OIC has asked for the unity and co operation of Muslim Ummah and has proposed an urgent request to the Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to Burma to investigate the massive violence perpetuated against the Rohingya Muslims. Countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey and Pakistan have expressed deep concern over the loss of life and property of Rohingya Muslims, condemned the ethnic clashes in Burma and have called for hastening the process of rehabilitation and settlement of Rohingya Muslims.

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Aymen Ijaz is a freelance writer, analyst and researcher from South Asia. Her areas of interests include current affairs, international relations,disarmament, non proliferation, strategic and nuclear studies.
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