The Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority in Myanmar, has been called by United Nations (UN) as the “most persecuted community of the world”.
Until recently, the Rohingya and their Buddhist neighbours had lived side by side with manageable tension.
However, when allegations of a Muslim attack on Buddhists surfaced, an enormous wave of violence was unleashed on this helpless community.
Right before the very eyes of the world, innocent women, children and men were hunted down, tortured to death and forced to flee their homeland in scores.
The ones that were left behind were imprisoned in open-air camps reminiscent of concentration camps or gulags.
Although 90% of Myanmar’s population are Buddhists, government propaganda was so effective that the Buddhist majority came to believe that Muslims would one day take over their country.
This disturbing state of mind was so deeply entrenched in their society that when Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times asked a young boy what he would do if he saw a Muslim boy of his age, he simply answered, “I’d kill him”.
Today, Rohingya Muslims forced to live in concentration camps are denied the most basic human rights including access to health-care and medication.
Many die everyday due to lack of sufficient medication and medical treatment.
One elderly man was maimed for life after his arm was broken by a Buddhist monk and left unfixed because there were no doctors.
Although the plight of the Muslims of Myanmar is a deeply disturbing sight, the details of which would require a separate article, the urgent cries of help from those stranded boats in the Malacca Straits now overshadows everything else.
Around 10 days ago, the world found out that some 8,000 Rohingya women, children, men and elderly are stranded at the sea, drifting ashore on unsafe boats with insufficient food, insufficient water, and nowhere to go.
The traffickers, after charging a large sum of money to take the Rohingya out of Myanmar, deserted the boats as soon as they faced the slightest risk of getting caught and now, these people have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go because no country is willing to take them in.
In other words, these people, human beings just like you, are denied a patch of land to stand on. They are told that they simply have no place in this world.
Indonesia, although it is the most populous Muslim country in the world, turned the boats away and told its helpless passengers to “go to Malaysia instead”.
In a shocking move, the Malaysian deputy home minister said his country, which until recently welcomed the Rohingya, would use tough measures, including turning back asylum-seeker boats and deportations in order to send the “right message” and said, “We don’t want them to come here”.
Meanwhile, Thai authorities said that they are now checking out the migrants’ boats “to make sure they do not come into Thai waters”.
Bangladesh has already made it quite clear that they would not accept any Rohingya, while Australia notoriously has already turned away boats full of helpless Rohingya people.
So these people are absolutely out of options, stranded out in the ocean. The world is watching their plight in the comfort of their homes and denies them a place to live in.
The world belongs to everyone, but these people are not given the right to live in it. After being ruthlessly hunted down, killed, tortured, burned to death, denied citizenship, education and basic human rights, they are now denied even a patch of land to survive. In other words, they are told to die by the world.
As this painful story unfolds, what is happening in the rest of the world? About 2.8 million people are dying of obesity every year while Rohingya children die of starvation.
As this persecuted minority cannot find a small piece of land to continue their lives, the world is actually so vast that if the world lived with the population density of New York City, the state of Texas would be enough to fit the entire seven billion of the human population in it.
In the same way, water resources are more than enough for all of us and with just over half the daily average outflow of the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River, we could meet the freshwater needs of the entire world's population; furthermore, the farmlands of the USA alone would be enough to feed the entire world.
Today, literally every country has the option to help these poor people, give them a place to live, give them a cup of food and water. But they don't. Instead they stand by and watch.
Most likely they will forget about them in a couple of days and resume their talks on the ongoing energy battles between the world's superpowers, the upcoming US presidential race and film festivals.
We call on the UN, and all world governments, to urgently take action to help these innocent people.
We are all human beings, and saving a life by helping a fellow human being in need is far more important than any materialistic cause could be: This is our moral duty and responsibility as human beings.
Turning a blind eye to the problem, pretending that it is not happening, doesn’t make it go away but it does create a dent in one’s conscience.
We shouldn't forget that as we comfortably go to sleep at night, innocent children die because of the lack of help from the world.
We shouldn't forget that everyone is equal, and the place one is born in cannot decide if he will be treated like a human being or not.
We are equals and every human being is a valuable soul that is worthy of respect and protection.
The world needs to rise up to this responsibility and erase this shameful episode once and for all by providing the necessary help to the Rohingya immediately as the citizens of the world would have demanded it for themselves had the situation been reversed.
Adnan Oktar's piece on The Malaysian Insider & Nigerian Herald: