The oppression of our Rakhine brothers in Myanmar is still continuing. The pressure on them was stepped up even further after 2012. The numbers of people being abandoned on the sea and people’s need for a tiny plot of land reached a peak in the first half of 2015. Mohamed Ibrahim, general secretary of the European Rohingya Council, announced this oppression to the world on a recent visit to Turkey.
But why are the people of Rakhine subjected to such persecution? What offense have they committed? Their only offense is having been born and raised in Myanmar. Living there and being Muslims. They are slaughtered by gangs calling themselves Buddhist simply for being Muslims. The Myanmar army empties out Muslim villages and capriciously detains all males, young or old. These people are not allowed a fair trial. Men flee their villages because of maltreatment and capricious detentions. Muslim women and girls with nobody to protect them are defenseless against rape and sexual attacks by the Myanmar security forces. Muslims are not allowed to have more than two children. Mosques are still being kept closed, and funeral prayers can only be performed at night, in secret, through the payment of bribes. The greatest source of pleasure for government-backed gangs in Myanmar who describe themselves as Buddhists is to burn Muslims and threaten people with death or exile.
Various news programs show the savagery experienced by the people of Rakhine in detail. But the world is literally blind to it. If these human rights violations happened in any European country there would be an outcry. However, when it comes to a few poor Muslims in a far corner of the globe, the world chooses to remain silent. Visits to Rakhine by various Islamic organizations are not enough to change what these people are going through because Muslims’ voices are very feeble. So-called Buddhist gangs still enjoy the backing of their own priests and government as they continue to assault the people of Rakhine.
Many people sitting comfortably at home and reading such reports perceive this persecution so far away as “others’ problem.” As they watch news programs showing the oppression of these people they experience a “heightened emotional state” as if they were watching a film. Even if their consciences are stirred and they do wonder “why are these people not being helped?” they forget about Rakhine and the suffering of our brothers there when another report is shown, and they return again to their daily lives.
Yet if the sufferings of our Rakhine brothers appear in the history books of the future, people reading them will be amazed at the world’s insensitivity. They will fail to understand how people remained so apathetic despite witnessing killings before their very eyes and systematic menaces and rape. They will wonder why no powerful union was created to protect these people’s rights.
Yes, it is most important to understand the persecution and suffering these innocent people are experiencing, and what they think and need. The more this is understood, the more people will put themselves in the shoes of these people who actually should not be suffering oppression, and thus will do all in their power to help them. It is very wrong for an individual to think, “What good can I do?” We are living in the age of technology. The whole world is at our fingertips and unfolds before us at the touch of a key on our computers. So it is easy for everyone to make his voice heard. The social media are an effective means of doing that. Everyone has a duty as an individual to keep events in Myanmar in the public eye until this wickedness is ended. Human beings are forgetful. Keeping the oppression of our Rakhine brothers constantly in the public eye makes the voice of our brothers who witness that persecution heard even louder by people of good conscience. The slaughter going on in Myanmar must not be ignored. That fire must constantly be spoken of if it is to be extinguished. Otherwise our brothers there will burn to ashes. Of course we pray that nobody else in Myanmar will be exposed to acts of violence. However, what we all really need to do is to put ourselves in those people’s shoes.
Yes, one of the most ruthless and underhand policies of assimilation in the history of mankind is taking place in Myanmar. So should Muslims remain silent in the face of it? Weeping, lamenting, talking of revenge, condemnations and protests are of course no solution. What people really need to ask is; “How long will mankind turn a blind eye to this savagery? How can we arrive at the most effective and soonest solution?” Let us not forget that when the boat begins to sink, everyone on it will drown. Events not just in Myanmar but in many regions of the world show that the ship on which Muslims are sailing has indeed begun sinking. What we must do is to “unite” at once. All Muslims must unite and bury this wrong. The time has come to make a start somewhere. So why not start with our Rakhine brothers? There are a plenty of Islamic countries that are powerful and moral enough to act as guarantors to prevent what is happening to the people of Rakhine, to help them and to meet their needs. This is a simple and practical solution.
The greatest obligation attendant upon all Muslims is to use all their means to speak of this persecution and pray for the immediate establishment of Islamic Union. Once that union is establishment, the Myanmar army will cease its persecution of its own accord. That army is now being encouraged by the fact that Muslims are leaderless and have no protector.
The international community must also discharge its own responsibility. The name of the Rakhine people of Myanmar appearing among the list of international social crises for the very first time is a promising development. However, mankind must now abandon its apathy completely. It is impossible to erase that the people of Rakhine have suffered to date from the pages of history, but we can make sure that what happens from now on is positive. Taking a single step and deciding to help the oppressed, people fleeing from war and the poor, and knowing that God has given us the means to make that assistance possible, will by itself be sufficient to stir people’s consciences into action. Once their consciences have been stirred, the rest will be easy.
Let us not forget that in the absence of love and morality all the values that make people human will vanish. Extending a helping hand to those awaiting it is the main precondition for being human.
Adnan Oktar's piece in The Burma Times & The Hans India: