Genocide of Rohingya Muslims

The systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by Burmese army has sent shockwaves across the world. The beheading of innocent children and burning people alive is the worst kind of state terrorism being unleashed upon hapless community by Myanmar Army.

The community that constitutes 2% of total population has been living in Myanmar (also known as Burma) since the 11th century CE. However, they were subjected to worst kind of human violations from time to time by successive military regimes. The community settled in different areas of the country has faced enforced eviction, confiscation of properties and systematic expulsion from government and army institutions at the hands of the Burmese military regimes. Over the past several years looting, burning religious institutions, acts of sacrilege, and vandalizing Muslim-owned establishments has been a common practice there. Way back in 2001, Human Rights Watch documented anti-Muslim violence in various parts of the country that left dozens of mosques and Madrasas destroyed.

However, anti-Muslim riots have flared up in various cities in central and eastern Myanmar since March 2013. The violence has coincided with the rise of the 969 Movement, which is a Buddhist nationalist movement against the influx of Islam in traditionally Buddhist Myanmar. Purportedly, the latest spate of violence and persecution of Rohingya community started in 2016 when the Myanmar military forces and extremist Buddhists started a major crackdown on the Rohingya Muslims in the country’s western region of Rakhine State. The military crackdown, that goes unabated till date, resulted in wide-spread human rights violations at the hands of so-called security forces that including extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, arsons, and other brutalities.

A chronology of events suggest that the Muslim community in Burma has since long been victim of prejudice, discrimination and hate-syndrome but the recent spate of state-sponsored violence, barbarism and brutality speaks volumes about the tragedy in the making.

Since anti-Muslim riots broke out in the region thousands of members of the helpless community have been ruthlessly killed. The most unfortunate part of this human tragedy is that this genocide is taking place under the nose of Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi who had herself been victim of state sponsored discrimination. The person who fought for the basic rights of people has now become complicit in crimes against humanity. The Nobel laureate has declined to speak out on violence against Rohingya Muslims.

The massive military crackdown against the defenseless community drew severe criticism from various quarters. But the de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi has particularly been criticized for her inaction and silence over the issue and for not doing much to prevent military abuse, which sparked an enormous refugee crisis. Nearly 125,000 Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since a fresh upsurge of violence in Myanmar on August 25, the United Nations said on Tuesday. Their arrival has raised fears of a fresh humanitarian disaster.

Under international law, Mayanmar government is duty-bound to protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to express religious belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching. It is high time that the civilized nations across the globe should take effective notice of the worsening human rights situation and help-stop systematic genocide and mass exodus of this particular minority community.

Many Muslim countries have offered their support to end humanitarian crisis in the region, however, issuing mere statements won’t really help to tackle this alarming issue. Given the magnitude of crisis Bangladesh government can’t tackle this issue single handedly. The OIC being the representative forum needs to lead the initiative to protect the Rohingya minority besides setting up an emergency fund to rehabilitate the refugees in Bangladesh.

There is also dire need that OIC should convene an emergency meeting of its member countries to devise comprehensive policy to find out a lasting solution of the crisis. It is time to convey a strong message to the Mynamar government that genocide of Muslim community was unacceptable and barbarism of such kind has no place in the 21st century international order. The international community too must come forward to bring an end to this brutality and genocide of Muslims in Burma.

About Arif Qureshi

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