RANDOM THOUGHTS: The Rohingya Massacre - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

The Rohingya Massacre
Dr. A.Q. Khan


For the last few weeks we have been seeing and hearing about the horrible persecution of Muslims in the Arakan district of Mayanmar (formerly Burma). Fanatic Buddhist monks and regular troops have burnt their huts, killed thousands of people and raped hundreds of women. The UN and Western Powers are just paying lip service in the same way they did on the issues of Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. According to the UN, the atrocities perpetrated by the monks and the troops fall under crimes against humanity. Nobel Laureate Aung Sang Sue has not said anything against these horrendous atrocities. As a matter of fact, she has become spokesperson for the perpetrators by saying that nothing of the nature reported has actually happened and that the media is exaggerating. Despite these claims, many Western journalists have shown horrible pictures of atrocities and the bodies of murdered men, women and children. Some of the bodies even had their arms, legs and heads chopped off. These atrocities are in no way any less than those committed by fanatical, orthodox Serbs in Bosnia. At least some of those evildoers paid the penalty worthy of their crimes.

History once again repeats itself. Similar inhuman treatment and atrocities were committed by the colonial powers in Africa, Asia, North and South America against the original local inhabitants. History is full of such barbaric actions. In our generation we have seen this happening in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Although living thousands of miles away, the Americans and their allies attacked and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent, unarmed people, all under an imaginary perception of a security risk to their countries.

Looking at the history of the Rohingya Muslims, we see that, during the Moghul empire and the British Raj, Burma was a part of the sub-continent and there were no barriers in travelling from India to Burma. From the fifteenth century on, Muslim and Arab traders and preachers from various countries started visiting the Arakan district of Burma and many settled there. The majority of those who settled there were from undivided Bengal and they were a peace-loving people. Even though they considered themselves to be Burmese, physically and by dress they looked like Bengalese. The trouble started in 1982 when the Mayanmar government adopted a law by which the Rohingya people were deprived of their Burmese nationality. According to the UN, the Rohingya people are the most persecuted minorities in the world. Their total population in the Arakan district numbered 1.3 to 1.4 million, mostly living in the northern Rakhine townships, which consisted of 80 to 90% Rohingya. Current atrocities have caused about 900,000 people to flee to south eastern Bangladesh and neighbouring Muslim countries. More than 200,000 have been forcefully confined to camps and are living under horrible conditions.

Burmese government officials claim that the Rohingya people are Bangladeshi refugees, but the Rohingya say they have belonged to the area for hundreds of years. They came during the Moghul and British colonial periods. History shows that migration from the sub-continent to Burma took place for centuries, mainly as part of the spread of Budhism, Islam, etc. The Bengal part of India and Bangladesh had historical and cultural ties with the Rakhine State (formerly Arakan). Bengali speaking settlers are recorded in Arakan history since at least the 15th century. In 1936 and 1939, many Muslims were elected to the Legislative Council of Burma under the Burmese Native Category in British Burma. After Independence in 1948, Rohingya leaders held high positions in government and parliament. They requested the government to declare Arakan as a separate province under the central government. After the 1962 military take-over, Gen. Ne Win’s government started enacting laws against the Rohingya people. After the return of martial law in 1988, the army launched a violent crackdown against Muslims and in 1991-1992, with life becoming unbearable, more than 200,000 moved to Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan and the Middle East. During British rule, Muslims from the sub-continent formed the second largest community in Rakhine, the largest being Budhists.

Human beings are an aggressive species. Whenever there is a chance (power, wealth, etc.), they immediately become aggressive to those who are weaker and terrorism, killings, expulsion, torture, etc. takes place. This has happened all over the world and still happens today. Perhaps nothing has caused as much violence as that perpetrated in the name of religion and ethnicity.

What is happening against the Rohingya Muslims is a crime against humanity – a war crime. At least for once, Muslim rulers should show solidarity and muscle to protect their poor, innocent Rohingya brethren. Bangladesh, together with Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan could teach the Mayanmar dictators a lesson to remember forever. They should occupy Arakan (Rohingya land), declare it a non-entry province for the Burmese army and police and resettle the poor refugees. A token multi-national force could be left in place to protect the people and no nonsense accepted from the Mayanmar government. If the West could create Lebanon, South Sudan, East Timor, etc., Muslim countries should use the same logic and help these poor suppressed people. Since it is a matter of Muslim repression, the UN and the West will never take forceful action. It is to be hoped that Muslim rulers realize that it was their silence in Bosnia, South Sudan and East Timor that allowed new countries to be created from Muslim countries. Let us not forget how Hajjaj bin Yousuf sent Muhammad bin Qasim to sort out Raja Dahir of Sindh upon hearing of a Muslim lady who had been looted and imprisoned by the local people and whom Raja Dahir was not setting free. Remember, the Almighty will hold us all responsible for the indifference shown to Muslim brethren in need. He has ordained that we help the aggrieved and fight against tyranny and oppression. May Allah Almighty show mercy on the poor oppressed people of Rohingya – Ameen.

Posted on Sep 25, 17 | 9:32 am