The United Nations described Rohingyas, the ethnic Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state as the ‘most persecuted minority in the world’.
The community has been suffering severe oppression for decades at the hands of the government and Buddhist extremists in the country. More than half- around 12 lakh - of the Rohingya community coming up to 20 lakh have been turned into refugees and reside in countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. There are about 8 lakh Rohingya refugees in Rakhine at present suffering the relentless atrocities carried out by the Myanmar government. It’s been years since they have been turned into the most persecuted community with the rest of the world turning a blind eye towards them. They are denied even the citizenship of Myanmar. The instances of denying citizenship to a large community in their own country only because they follow a different faith, will be a rare case in the world. Despite all the facts, the conscience of the world failing to react against the issue is of grave concern. A report describing the human rights violation faced by the Rohingya Muslims was released by Human Rights Watch in 2013. The title of the report which reveals the severe indifference displayed by the international community despite such serious human rights violations taking place perpetually in the world was ‘All you can do is pray’.
There is a reason at present, for discussing the Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar army and Buddhist extremists have strengthened the attacks towards the Rohingya since Friday. According to the different international news agency reports, over 500 people were killed in the military attacks in a week. But Rohingya organisations reveal that the death toll is much higher. Thousands have fled their country so far. There are also reports of people seeking refuge in paddy fields and forests. They are caught between life and death, fighting for survival without even basic amenities like food, water and shelter. It’s been only weeks since Kofi Annan, who heads the advisory commission formed under the United Nations to study about the human rights issues in Rakhine state, presented his report. It gives a clear picture of violence and discrimination carried out by the Myanmar government towards the Rohingya community in Rakhine. Annan while releasing the report, had said that Rakhine was passing through a precarious situation and appealed to the parties to abstain from violence. However, the Myanmar government led by Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi continues to neglect the trivial reactions from the international community. The government has resumed the attacks against Rohingya by brushing aside the UN report.
It’s the time for the rest of the world and human rights organisations to act realising the seriousness of the matter. But the fact that nobody comes forward to extend their support for the hapless community who have been subjected to brutal violence without any humanitarian consideration, is pathetic. The Muslim countries that are troubled with issues of their own as well as engaged in conflicts with others display utmost indifference towards the ethnic violence against Rohingya. Only Turkey intervene in the matter despite its limitations. Although several voluntary organisations in Malaysia and Indonesia pressurise the government to intervene in the issue, it has so far remained fruitless. Bangladesh another Muslim country that shares its border with Rakhine state, displays a cruel approach towards the Rohingya community. The Bangladesh army forcibly returns the refugees who cross the Naf River, a border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, back to Myanmar.
The Hasina Wajed government in Bangladesh had already suppressed all the Islamic organisations who extended support to the Rohingya. The brutal government led by her could not be expected to show empathy towards the refugees. India, another neighbouring country has failed to consider the matter as a human rights issue. The Central government is presently even contemplating on expelling the Rohingya immigrants who come up only to a few thousands, from the country. The brutalities faced by the Rohingya community shames a civilised society. It’s at a time when democracy and progress are believed to have advanced much that the Rohingya groups are subjected to such uncivilised extremism by the state. When will the civilised society pay heed to the tears of the hapless refugees?