By Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Part 1: Current Situation inside Arakan
Myanmar’s western state of Arakan (Rakhine) is again burning. In Mrauk-U, the former capital of the independent kingdom of Arakan, hundreds of young Rakhine Buddhist men were on the march: packed on the backs of pickups, on motorcycles, on trishaws, tuk-tuks and bicycles, but mostly on foot. They carried spears, swords, cleavers, bamboo staves, slingshots, crossbows and the occasional petrol bomb. Their target: the unarmed Rohingya Muslims. As the Economist (dated Nov. 3, 2012) of the UK noted, one Buddhist terrorist tugged at an imaginary beard and made a grisly throat-cutting gesture.
Sadly, Mrauk-U is not the only town where Rohingya Muslims are facing a genocidal campaign at the hands of Rakhine terrorists. From the reports collected inside Myanmar, there is little doubt that the Rakhine Buddhist terrorists, aided by local and central government politicians, police and security forces, are carrying out a pre-meditated genocidal campaign to exterminate and drive out every Rohingya of Burma (Myanmar). So atrocious and criminal this campaign is even the president of Myanmar, who had previously tried to hide such targeted violence, had to admit on Friday, October 26 (as reported in the pro-government newspaper the New Light of Myanmar) that eight mosques (Muslim houses of worship) and 2,000 of Rohingya homes were torched to completely destroy these. His spokesman told the BBC this weekend that “there have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state.” The actual facts and figures, however, are much worse!
It is feared that in the last week of October at least 5,000 Rohingya homes were burned to ashes. Satellite imagery shows the utter destruction of a Muslim quarter of the coastal town of Kyaukphyu, from where oil-and-gas pipelines are to cross Myanmar to China. In this latest genocidal campaign, the Muslim villages and localities in townships are cordoned off and fire bombed. Anyone trying to escape from their burned homes is shot dead by the Rakhine Buddhist terrorists and their patrons within the government. Racist Rakhine politicians and monks are creating an environment of racial/religious hatred and intolerance which justifies all types of violence against the unarmed Rohingya population. Many Rohingyas have, therefore, tried to escape to the forest or the open seas, only to be hunted down there, too. Last week, hundreds died when their boats sank in the Bay of Bengal. Others are forced to sneak out to Bangladesh. Denied entry, many have ended up in squalid camps in Sittwe (Akyab) to join others who have been confined there since early June. Dozens of Rohingya girls were also kidnapped by the Rakhine terrorists to use rape and kidnap as weapons of war to terrorize the Rohingya populace.
It is an all out extermination campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar. In a statement dated Thursday, October 25, Ashok Nigam, a United Nations official in Myanmar, said, “The UN is alarmed by reports of displacements and destruction.” He said that access to all affected people is critical and appealed for immediate and unconditional access to all communities in accordance with humanitarian principles.
As I have pointed out earlier in my speeches and writings, the Myanmar government wants to hide its heinous crimes against the Rohingya people and, thus, have not allowed access of the international media, NGOs, aid groups and even the UN to the troubled region to investigate, monitor and assess the scale of the violence. Since the elimination of the Rohingya people one way or another is the declared state objective, no aid has reached from the Myanmar government agencies to the Muslim victims. And what is worse, even the relief materials sent from the OIC and the Islamic Relief have not reached the intended Rohingya victims. Less than 10% of such aids have trickled down to the victims. The Myanmar government, thanks to the state-managed protests and demonstrations in October by racist Buddhists that included monks, has also barred the OIC and Muslim relief agencies from opening offices inside the Rakhine state to help the Rohingya victims.
Not a single Buddhist terrorist has been punished for the gruesome murder of Muslims, not then and not now. All what we heard from the Thein Sein government was that it had identified the instigators behind the violence and pledged to bring them to justice. But as we have witnessed earlier with the June 3 lynching death of 10 Burmese Muslims, such promises have not translated into justice, let alone created an atmosphere that protects the lives and properties of the affected Rohingya minority.
It is obvious that the Thein Sein government is playing the cat-and-mouse game with the world community with false promises made to divert attention away when the satellite pictures are too obvious and difficult to hide such crimes, and once the outside pressure is low to encourage and participate in this heinous crime. As such the pogroms that started in June 3 with nearly a hundred thousand internally displaced Rohingyas have only worsened with extra tens of thousands that are now without any shelter. The once thriving Muslim localities now look like bombed-out territories. No Rohingya has been allowed back in to rebuild those properties. They have been caged in camps that look like the Nazi concentration camps from which they can’t venture out to fetch their livelihood without risking being shot by the Rakhine Buddhist security forces. They have been placed there to slowly die.
Terrorizing the unarmed Rohingya population has become a Rakhine national passion. The Border Security Force (NASAKA) continues to remind the Rohingya people that Arakan is a Rakhine place where there is no place for the Rohingya Muslims and that they must leave or will be killed. Newer territories are added to the list of ethnically cleansed ones to terrorize Rohingya Muslims and exterminate them. The Section 144, which prohibits an assembly of more than five people in an area, is only applied against the Rohingya. They cannot go out to protect their homes, shops, mosques, schools and villages from being looted and set on fire by the Rakhine terrorists who are not stopped from committing such crimes by the security forces.
In most cases, these criminal Rakhines are aided by the government. There have been cases, e.g., as in Kyauk Pyu Township, in which instead of dousing the fire with water, the Buddhist firemen sprayed gasoline into the fire to complete the destruction! “The firemen threw petrol on the flames, as if it was water! The authorities are one-sided. We can never trust them,” said a local teacher to Pete Pattisson, a journalist working for the Independent (UK). Last Wednesday, the entire Muslim community in Kyauk Pyu decided to flee in their fishing boats, joining thousands of others trying to escape from being killed or burned alive. Former Muslim residents of Pauk Taw told the Independent that a government ferryboat had rammed their fishing boats at sea, resulting in drowning deaths of dozens. Those who had fled and made it ashore have been prevented by government authorities from landing on the coast.
Satellite images of Kyauk Pyu and its coastal surroundings, released by the Human Rights Watch at the weekend, show the extent of the devastation. Where once there were houseboats and floating barges moored along a harbor town packed with houses, now there is charred desolation, with 811 homes and other structures destroyed.
All the victims in recent months have also been Muslims and yet the Thein Sein government tries to portray the violence in the Rakhine state as an interracial or communal riot.
What is going on inside the Rakhine state is simply a purposeful policy designed by the Myanmar government in which the members of the majority Rakhine ethnic group, which is Buddhist by faith, are willing executioners to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of the Rohingya ethnic community, which are Muslims, from the geographic areas of Arakan and Myanmar. The United Nations define such activities as ethnic cleansing. No hog-washing by the murderous regime and its supporters at home and abroad will succeed to hide such monumental crimes.
Part 2: Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingyas of Myanmar
The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people is a text book case. It has become a national project that is led by the Myanmar state at the central level and the Rakhine state at the local level, supported by a good percentage of the Buddhist nation and its dominant Burman and Rakhine ethnic groups, and which employs large institutional and material resources. The local Rakhine politicians and terrorists, the Buddhist monks and mobs, and the entire state apparatus from the local to the central government level are enthusiastic partners in this project towards final solution of the Rohingya problem.
It was no accident, therefore, to witness demonstrations of monks, esp. those organized by Young Monks Association, supporting Thein Sein’s plan to expel the Rohingyas from Myanmar. The largest such demonstration was led by Wirathu, considered a venerable teacher by many Buddhists. He is a criminal who was imprisoned in 2003 for inciting violence against the Muslims. It is no accident that Suu Kyi spoke with forked tongues and that her NLD party has actually been supporting the national project towards elimination of the Rohingya people. Many of the so-called ‘democracy’ leaders have proven to be no better than fascists and are actually worse than the KKK members.
The worst criminals in this extermination campaign are, however, the fellow Rakhine Buddhists, whose ancestors settled in Arakan beginning in the 11th century, i.e., centuries after the darker complexioned Indo-Bengali ancestors of the Rohingya people had already settled in this coastal territory once ruled by the Hindu Chandra dynasty, which had closer ties with Bengal (today’s Bangladesh).
With that intrusion, albeit a violent one, of the Tibeto-Burman people, the forefathers of today’s Rakhine race, who professed Buddhism, the original inhabitant Hindus and Muslims gradually became minority religious groups. However, in 1430 when two contingents of Muslim Army from Bengal, comprising of more than 50,000 soldiers, restored the fleeing Arakanese king Narameikhla (Maung Saw Mawn) to the throne of Arakan, and a great many of them were asked to protect the regime against any future Burmese invasion, the new settlements of the Muslim garrison around the new capital city of Mrohang (Mrauk-U) greatly added to the size of the minority Muslim community.
The Arakanese rulers of Mrauk-U dynasty adopted superior Islamic culture from nearby Muslim Bengal/India, and issued coins with Islamic inscriptions. They patronized Bengali literature. They also adopted Muslim names, a practice that was to continue for generations well into the 16th century. Muslims played major roles in administration, courts and defense of this multi-ethnic kingdom that maintained its independence for centuries until its annexation by the Burmese king Bodawpaya in 1784.
Bodawpaya was a Buddhist religious fanatic who tried to demolish everything Islamic. He introduced racism and bigotry into this multi-religious region. He destroyed mosques that once dotted the shorelines of Arakan and patronized building Buddhist monasteries and pagodas. He massacred tens of thousands of Muslims, and took another 20,000 as prisoners during his annexation of Arakan. During his tyrannical rule, some 200,000 Arakanese also fled to Bengal (today’s Bangladesh), which by then was under the British rule. After 40-years of Burmese rule (1784-1824), Arakan was occupied by the English East India Company who ruled the territory until Burma won its independence on January 4, 1948.
During the Second World War, taking advantage of the Japanese occupation of Burma, the Buddhist forces which had allied themselves with the Fascist Japanese Imperial Army against the British Raj, targeted the Indian and Muslim population and their homes and businesses. Even the Rohingya Muslims who lived in the western territories did not escape the extermination campaign. Nearly a hundred thousand of them were killed in that joint campaign. They were pushed out of the southern parts of the Arakan state; and many managed to survive by living in northern territories, closer to the Bengal, where they were a solid majority. Another 80,000 settled permanently in Bengal to save their lives. Two hundred and ninety four Muslim villages were totally destroyed.
Even after Burma achieved its independence, sadly, the mass elimination and targeted violence against the Rohingya and other Muslims continued. To the best of my knowledge, at least two dozen campaigns have been directed against them to ethnically cleanse them. These are:
1. Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) – November 1948
2. Burma Territorial Force (BTF) – Operation 1949-50
3. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) – March 1951-52
4. Mayu Operation – October 1952-53
5. Mone-thone Operation – October 1954
6. Combined Immigration and Army Operation – January 1955
7. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation – 1955-58
8. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation – 1959
9. Shwe Kyi Operation – October 1966
10. Kyi Gan Operation – October-December 1966
11. Ngazinka Operation – 1967-69
12. Myat Mon Operation – February 1969-71
13. Major Aung Than Operation – 1973
14. Sabe Operation February – 1974-78
15. Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation – February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh; 40,000 died)
16. Shwe Hintha Operation – August 1978-80
17. Galone Operation – 1979
18. 1984 Pogrom in Taunggok
19. Anti-Muslim riots – Taunggyi (western Burma), Pyay and many other parts of Burma including Rangoon – 1987-88
20. Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)
21. Na-Sa-Ka Operation – since 1992
22. Race riot against Muslims – March 1997 (Mandalay)
23. Anti-Muslim riot in Sittwe – February 2001
24. Anti-Muslim full-scale riot in Central Burma – May 2001
25. Anti-Muslim violence throughout central Burma (especially in the cities of Pyay/Prome, Bago/Pegu) after 9/11 – October 2001
26. Joint extermination campaign – June 3, 2012 – to date.
Every attempt has been made by the Myanmar government since the days of General Ne Win to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya people and deny them human rights. They were declared stateless, thus licensing every crime directed against them; not a single Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was honored. Here below is a shortlist of such crimes against the Rohingya people:
• Denial of Citizenship
• Restriction of Movement or Travel
• Restriction on Education
• Restriction on Ability to work
• Forced Labor
• Land Confiscation
• Forced Eviction
• Destruction of homes, offices, schools, mosques, etc.
• Religious persecution
• Ethnic discrimination
• Restrictions on Marriage of Rohingyas
• Prevention of reproduction and forced abortion
• Arbitrary Taxation and Extortion
• Registration of births and deaths in families and even of cattle, and the associated extortion
• Arbitrary arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing
• Abuse of Rohingya Women and Elders
• Rape as a weapon of war
• Depopulation of Rohingya community
• Confiscation of residency/citizenship cards
• Internally displaced persons or undocumented refugees and statelessness
• Destruction or alteration of historical Muslim sites and shrines to erase its symbolism or Islamic identity.
Part 3: All Over Arakan It’s Bosnia Again!
In a meeting (in which I was invited to speak on the Rohingya problem) held in Luton (located 30 miles north of London), UK, on October 13, a British MP mentioned close parallel between what is happening today against the Rohingya Muslims in Arakan and what happened in Bosnia in the early 1990s against the Bosnian Muslims. He is right.
The Arakan state, which per estimates made by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung alias Shahnewaz Khan, in his book – The Price of Silence: Muslim-Buddhist War of Bangladesh and Myanmar – a Social Darwinist’s Analysis – had probably as many Rohingya Muslims as there were Rakhine Buddhists living in its four districts before the latest extermination campaign that began on June 3 of this year, is now almost devoid of any Muslim village that is unharmed or intact by Buddhist Rakhine terrorism.
The UN and other international human rights groups have called the Rohingya Muslims, and rightly so, the worst persecuted people in our planet. Because of their race and religion, they are victims of genocide in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Truly, no other word in the English language but genocide can describe what the Rohingya people are facing. The use of this term should not come as a surprise since the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.” As noted by experts, the term can be applied to such destructions in whole or in part of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. By any definition, the Rohingya people of Arakan are ethnically, racially, religiously different than the Rakhine Buddhists and majority Burmans in Myanmar.
In his book – Worse than War – Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen cites five principal forms of elimination: transformation, repression, expulsion, prevention of reproduction, and extermination. Transformation involves the destruction of a targeted group’s essential and defining political, social, or cultural identities. As I have mentioned earlier, in spite of their ties to the soil of Arakan since time immemorial, the Rohingyas are falsely alleged by the dominant ethnic groups as new settlers from nearby Bangladesh.
Repression entails keeping the hated, deprecated, or feared people within territorial reach and reducing, with violent domination, their ability to inflict real or imagined harm upon others. Such repression has been a regular feature of Rohingya life inside Myanmar.
Expulsion, often called deportation, is a third eliminationist option. It removes unwanted people more thoroughly, by driving them beyond a country’s borders, or from one region of a country to another, or compelling them en masse into camps. The Myanmar government since the days of Ne Win has been guilty of this crime.
Prevention of reproduction is the fourth eliminationist act, which the Myanmar government has been employing in conjunction with others. Not only are the Rohingya families restricted from marrying, the women are often forcibly sterilized, forced to abort and very often raped. In recent months, during attacks on Muslim homes, villages and towns the kidnapping of the Rohingya girls and women have become a recurring event.
Extermination is the fifth eliminationist act in which the targeted groups are killed, often with the excuse that their very existence poses a mortal threat. It promises not an interim, not a piecemeal, not only a probable, but a “final solution” to the putative problem. It is not difficult to see why in recent weeks, poisoned oil and food were sold to the Rohingya people by Rakhine businessmen to kill them. The latest activities by the Rakhine terrorists, aided by racist monks and others within the larger Myanmar society, including murderous politicians and government authorities, thus, clearly show that Rohingyas are victims of an extermination act.
A comparison with the previously cited list of crimes of the Myanmar government clearly shows that Rohingyas are facing all the five forms of elimination. It is a complete package of annihilation of the Rohingya people!
Genocide requires preparation and planning. It begins in the minds of men and needs mass mobilization to commit the horror against the targeted group. The perpetrators or the executioners must not only feel secure but also must be self-motivated and zealous to commit their horrendous crimes. Often times, the task of preparing the mind is left to ideologues and chauvinist intellectuals who sell the poison tablet of intolerance against the targeted group. Without political leadership the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators would not lift a finger in harm. However, once set in motion, typically with a few encouraging and enabling words, they, both the eliminationist regimes’ shock troops and their societies’ ordinary members give themselves, body and soul, to death. They do so easily, effortlessly. And this is what we are witnessing today in Myanmar, esp. the Arakan state.
Taking a cue from other places where genocides have taken place, the leaders of this greatest crime of our time – the Myanmar government, the local Rakhine politicians and intelligentsia, and their racist Buddhist monks within the general population — have been feeding many myths for public consumption that not only distort the history of the Rohingyas and other non-Buddhists but also exaggerate the potential benefits that could come from ‘purifying’ the soils of Myanmar and Arakan by eliminating the ‘other’ people, esp. the Rohingya Muslims. Thanks to the poisonous writings of Rakhine chauvinists like Aye Chan, (late) Aye Kyaw, Khin Maung Saw and others, the Muslim population is deemed an ‘influx virus,’ a threat to the Buddhist identity of Myanmar, esp. of Arakan. Thus, a pervasive slogan that is often heard and discussed in the media is that the Rakhine people can’t live any more with the Rohingya ‘terrorists.’ Forgotten in such biased reporting is the mere fact that all the victims of the carnage have been Rohingya people. It is they who are terrorized by Buddhist terrorism, and not the other way around!
The causes of mass murder can often be found in the ideology that the state espouses. Social and ethnic compositions are usually the fault lines along which such elimination projects emanate. As I have noted elsewhere, the Myanmar government espouses a new Myanmarism in which racism and bigotry are the defining ideologies to purify its soil of all the non-Buddhists and non-Mongoloid races. Its mosaic of identities – ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic and cultural, and the resulting diversity, which could have been its greatest strength is seen in this toxic ideology as its greatest weakness.
In 1935, years before the Jewish Holocaust happened in Germany, anti-Jewish racist and bigotry-ridden laws were promulgated in the German city of Nuremberg stopping social and economic contacts with the Jews. The Jews also lost the right to vote and hold office. Within the next eight years, 13 implementation ordinances were issued dealing with the enforcement of the Reich Citizenship Law that progressively marginalized the Jewish community in Germany. Anyone violating these laws was punished by hard labor, imprisonment and/or fines. Such laws were exploited by hard-core Nazis to destroy properties of a people that the authorities would not generally protect. Truly, it is hard to imagine the Jewish Holocaust in Europe without those Nuremberg Laws. The recently issued religious edicts from Buddhist monks banning social and economic ties with the Rohingya people, in particular, and the Muslims, in general, is a sufficient reminder and a dire warning about the ugly head of genocide that is emerging now in Myanmar, esp. in its western state of Arakan.
As I have noted in my keynote speech at the Bangkok Conference on “Contemplating Burma’s Rohingya People’s Future in Reconciliation and (Democratic) Reform,” the new Myanmarism, espoused by the Buddhist political leadership inside Myanmar, is totalitarian and is akin to neo-Nazi Fascism. Its leaders and followers erase distinction between politics and religion, wanting to merge their racist and fascist politics with and subordinate to radical Theravada Buddhism that is extremist, fundamentalist, racist, violent and intolerant of all religions except its own. This toxic ideology is a sure recipe for disaster in a country like Myanmar with some 140 ethnic groups and minority Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus comprising 15 to 20 percent of the total population. It breeds intolerance and promotes violence that is officially sanctioned by people in authority and supported by vast majority of its people as a national project. This hybrid cocktail of Burmese racist supremacy and intolerant Buddhism is a threat not only to its minority races and religions, but also to the entire region.
Sadly, however, because of the western appetite for Myanmar’s natural resources, the crimes of the Myanmar and Rakhine government are overlooked. And instead, the root causes behind the targeted violence against the Rohingya Muslims are falsely attributed to poverty and lack of economic opportunities – points recently made by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department.
There is, however, no doubt that in spite of Myanmar’s enormous natural resources, the country remains the poorest of the ASEAN countries, and South-east Asia. But to say that poverty is at the heart of the genocidal campaign is a linguistic camouflage to justice U.S. State Department’s silence on the grievous nature of the crimes committed by the murderous Myanmar government. We have heard similar excuses during the Bosnian and Rwandan genocidal campaigns. There are many countries with worse poverty but the powerful majority there doesn’t commit acts of genocide against the minority. For genocide to happen, it is always a national project in which people of all walks of life participate, and that is what is happening with the Rohingya problem inside Myanmar.
For years, China, India and other Asia Pacific countries have been doing business with the brutal military regime in Myanmar. Human rights were never a priority. Many of the European and North American countries were left out from a share at that Myanmar pie. For them to join in, they needed a face change with Myanmar. And that devious process started first with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Suu Kyi – who did not merit it, and then with the change of the uniform of the old guards who not long ago had donned the military dress to claim that they are reform-minded. It was a Glasnost moment for Burma, which was renamed Myanmar. That claim was followed with a controversial election held in 2010 (followed by a by-election in which Suu Kyi’s NLD enthusiastically participated) to show that Myanmar was moving from a fascist military oligarchy into a democracy, and then the trip of Suu Kyi as Thein Sein’s unofficial ambassador to the western world pleading for opening up trade and commerce relationship with the government. And in this warming up session, the last play was played during Thein Sein’s trip to the UN where he met with Ban Ki-Moon and other western leaders.
Soon thereafter one after another of the western governments, too keen to eat their share of the pie, lifted all previous bans against the murderous regime. They promised huge investments. Emboldened by such moves, the Thein Sein government does not feel that it is obligated to honor any previous pledge made to the world community. Soon after his return from the UN session, the racist Buddhist monks conducted stage managed demonstrations asking the government to force out or relocate Muslims. In government managed newspapers, they announced dire consequences against anyone doing any business with Muslims including selling food and buying or renting out homes to and from them. As hinted above, it is a copy of the Nazi era policy. It is a total package of ethnically cleansing Myanmar of the Muslim population, in general, and the Rohingyas, in particular. So insidious is Myanmar’s Buddhist fascism, the Rakhine Buddhists living inside and outside Arakan and their patrons in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not want any Muslim, esp. the Rohingya, living inside Myanmar, esp. in the Rakhine state.
As I have noted elsewhere, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people has now become a national project in Myanmar in which most Buddhists of Myanmar including the so-called democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi are willing participants one way or another. Even when they are not personally participating in this heinous crime, through their sinister silence and/or endorsement of the regime’s anti-Rohingya policy and the genocidal campaign that is carried out by criminal Rakhine Buddhists, they have essentially become partners in this crime. The Rakhine Buddhists now have their own version of Kristallnacht. They are mimicking the Nazi Party’s series of pogroms in 1938, whereby one Jewish township after another was attacked. At this rate of destruction, there won’t be any Muslim locality left inside Arakan, their ancestral home.
None of these attacks since June 3 are isolated, unplanned, or spontaneous offenses. Already made stateless by the highly discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law that is at variance with scores of international laws, the Rohingyas are falsely blamed by fascist Rakhine politicians for crimes that they did not commit so that the Buddhist populace could be incited to accept and assist the progressively savage operations of “race purification.” Lynching attacks are organized by Aye Maung’s fascist party – RNDP and other equally racist Rakhine politicians and greedy businessmen to loot Rohingya properties and burn their homes, businesses and mosques. Rohingya property is confiscated. In this task the Rakhine-dominated security forces and police are willing partners. As a result, the Rohingyas are now caged in concentration-like camps and ghettos or pushed into exile. The genocidal program is progressing in fury and irresponsibility to the “final solution” to make them an extinct people.
We can still stop this extinction if our powerful western governments act. They can pressure the Thein Sein government through the UN Security Council not only to stop this ethnic cleansing and restore Rohingya citizenship, but also ensure that the Rohingyas are compensated for their loss of lives and properties and live with safety and security under UN-monitored safe havens created to the west of the Kaladan River. If the regime resists such tangible changes, the UNSC members can take the criminal leaders of Myanmar and the Rakhine state to a Nuremberg-type trial for committing heinous crimes against humanity, let alone ban all economic transactions with the rogue regime.
Unfortunately, the attitude of the powerful nations towards the Rohingya problem is a reminiscent of the Nazi era; they refuse to see and hear the obvious truth. It is simply immoral and inexcusable. They are buying and parroting the Myanmar regime’s argument, that the conflict is basically two-sided with two large racial groups attacking each other. This is a false equivalence. When all the townships that are burning, and refugees, are from one side – the Rohingya, and when renowned activists, Buddhist monks, and local Rakhine politicians and students are using language reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda, something truly catastrophic is underway seeking “final solution” of the Rohingya problem. Nothing can hide this ugly truth!
The Rakhine (Arakan) state now looks like a prison-like ghetto for the Rohingya people. Now, the Rohingya homes are ring-fenced by burnt-out buildings and military checkpoints. Outside the capital city of Sittwe (Akyab), up to 100,000 more Rohingyas are living in a series of sweltering refugee camps where malnourishment and disease are rife and where security forces and local Rakhine activists impede aid workers from operating freely. As a result of years of persecution and a slow but steady genocidal campaign, half the Rohingya population has already been pushed out. Others living inside are counting their days to get out of this living hell. Can our generation allow such an obliteration of an entire community?
How many Rohingya deaths and destruction of their homes would qualify for these powerful nations to act and stop this most far-flung and terrible racial persecution of our time? How can we ignore or tolerate such a calculated, malignant and devastating crime, which epitomizes racial hatreds, religious bigotry, terrorism and violence, and the arrogance and cruelty of power?
It is sad to see that we have not learned anything from genocides of the past – neither from Hitler’s Germany nor from the more recent ones in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda. Linguistic camouflages are still used to minimize the nature of the crime faced by the Rohingya people. Many reporters relaying the events are using prefixes like “alleged” only to obfuscate what is really happening. Many local reporters are absolutely biased and are guilty of disseminating government propaganda.
In his closing remarks before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, Robert Jackson, the U.S. Chief Prosecutor, issued the following warning: “The reality is that in the long perspective of history the present century will not hold an admirable position, unless its second half is to redeem its first. These two-score years in the twentieth century will be recorded in the book of years as one of the most bloody in all annals. Two World Wars have left a legacy of dead which number more than all the armies engaged in any way that made ancient or medieval history. No half-century ever witnessed slaughter on such a scale, such cruelties and inhumanities, such wholesale deportations of peoples into slavery, such annihilations of minorities. The terror of Torquemada pales before the Nazi Inquisition. These deeds are the overshadowing historical facts by which generations to come will remember this decade. If we cannot eliminate the causes and prevent the repetition of these barbaric events, it is not an irresponsible prophecy to say that this twentieth century may yet succeed in bringing the doom of civilization.”
Witnessing the latest genocidal campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, it is obvious that we have failed on both counts – to eliminate “the causes” and to prevent “the repetition of these barbaric events.”