Myanmar, also known to many as Burma, is a small country in a far corner of our world. With its 676,578 sq. km area and a population of 56 million, Myanmar is one of those countries where human rights violations have gone to an extreme.
Mainly consisting of a Buddhist majority, Myanmar embraced democracy out of a military regime four years ago. However, because of the policies of oppression and violence by the government, the Muslim Rohingya are fleeing from Arakan (Rakhine) state in the west of the country. In fact, people acknowledge that the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted communities in the world. According to statistics from the end of 2014, it was made evident that 280 Muslims have lost their lives in religiously based conflicts, and some 140,000 thousand have been displaced. These people unwanted in their own homeland are not recognized as citizens of Burma, and therefore they do not possess the right to education, health services, marriage or travel. For that reason about 1,300,000 Muslim Rohingya are trying to persist in living close to Sittwe, the capital of the state of Rakhine, in appalling conditions, scrappy and miserable camps. Children born and living in these camps have to struggle against a multitude of issues without even having lived through their springtime of their life.
In the 12 camps built from bamboo and cane, the children of Arakan are living in hunger, thirst and on the whole ailing through all kinds of diseases and undergoing days of affliction in harsh circumstances deprived of medication and wellness. The ban on the activities of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) organization - the main provider of medical aid in the region - has resulted in the worsening of the conditions in the camps. With the departure of the aid personnel from the region, people there have been deprived of all medical services and on those grounds; the state of the children therein is changing for the worse. Because of the inadequate nutrition and detrimental state of affairs in the camps of Rakhine, there is more news of increased starvation and diseases.
The children of Arakan are trying to carry on living under the most severe austerity in the camps together with their striving parents
Children, waking up to a new day in their nylon-covered shacks, are smiling in unawareness amidst the people of the camp, whose number grows every other day. Not having even the simplest of toys, their playthings are made out of mud, bags and boxes, they are not even informed of the heavy burden they are passing through.
The difficulties these children encounter are not only limited to scarcity of food or shelter. The Muslims in these camps are persistently under the persecution of roving Buddhist gangs; the children of Arakan are the object of torture that no infant should ever be subjected to. These Buddhist gangs attack Muslim villages and plunder their belongings, place their parents under arrest with no reason and inflict all kinds of pain on the minors. The hands of these children are tied from under their legs and they are left behind defenseless. Children wait for someone to come and save them for days in hunger and thirst, left half-naked in this position. Some cannot endure under this duress and their exhausted bodies fall dead on the soil.
Not a single mother or father could ever turn a blind eye to these dire circumstances. While many people are living in their comfortable, warm homes and striving for the prosperity of their children, they simply ignore the cries of children coming from the other corner of the world. Just putting oneself in their shoes only for one moment would be adequate to dissolve this recklessness. Nobody would ever fail to pay heed if their own children were in hunger, shivering in sickness and tortured right before their eyes. If necessary, he would risk his own life to save their lives. Not having met those children or not being their biological parents is no reason to stop people from making efforts on their behalf.
The world needs to free itself from this disease of lovelessness and lack of compassion. There is an intense indifference in the background in all kinds of hostility and conflict and again, the same reasons come into play in the persecution in Myanmar because there is discrimination regarding race, sect or faith. The world is now waiting for people who hold love dear, and lead with compassion and justice to end all the bloodshed and the world is waiting for understanding, mercy and compassion. The world seeks guidance: We pray that God shall bring those beautiful days closer when the whole world will embrace love in its entirety.
Adnan Oktar's piece on The Burma Times: