Stop ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

Mohammad Bhuiyan* | Update:

After over 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, we all had high hopes that Aung San Suu Kyi with her National League for Democracy (NLD) will bring positive changes. Instead, the world has received a gift of genocide from her and her party.

It is a shame that a Nobel Peace Prize winner (Aung San Suu Kyi) and a Burmese Buddhist Monk (AshinWirathu - Times Magazine called him as“The Face of the Buddhist Terror”) are supporting the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

It is also shameful that other Nobel Peace Prize winners have failed to strongly condemn this heinous act and the Nobel Peace Committee is completely silent about the situation.

It is a shame that many world leaders and organisations who were putting sanctions and pressures on Burmese military rulers to end military rules and free Aung San Suu Kyi from jail, are mostly silent as the new so-called democratic government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi is involved in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim.

It is a shame that some of the world leaders are mostly silent as their economic interest is more important than a few hundred thousand dead and refugee Rohingya Muslims. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was in Myanmar this week and was mostly silent about the matter as he was competing with China for influence over Myanmar's economy, which has been flung open after decades of relative isolation.

The world saw the real side of Aung San Suu Kyi, when on March 2016, she was interviewed by the the BBC <> Today presenter Mishal Husain. Suu Kyi lost her composure and was heard to mutter angrily off-air: “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim” and repeatedly exhibited her support for the anti-Islamic sentiment. So, no one should be surprised that after taking over power, she is an active party to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims.

According to Benedict Rogers, there is evidence that Muslims have been living in Rakhine state in Myanmar since the 9th century and a significant number of those Muslims immigrated to British Burma from then India and now Bangladesh in the early 20th century.

Muslims are only 4 per cent of Myanmar’s population and the Rohingya Muslims are a smaller minority. The Rohingya are explicitly forbidden from becoming citizens of Burma and have no political weight whatsoever. So, it is ridiculous to argue that Buddhists are afraid of Muslims' takeover of Myanmar. So there is no justification of killing and burning of Rohingya Muslims. It appears that for Suu Kyi, the winning of election is more important than helping this suppressed small minority population of Myanmar. It is clear from her actions that peace is not as important to her  as her personal interest even though she is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Human history is full of conflicts based on religion. However, it is expected that we as humans have passed that dark chapter and are able to live in harmony by respecting each other’s religion. Every religion promotes peace and harmony. In the recent past, world has seen Hindu nationalists, Muslim militants, fundamentalist Christians, ultra-Orthodox Jews. Buddhism has largely escaped this by identifying them as nonviolent and loving ones until Times Magazine put the spotlight by its cover story entitled “The Face of the Buddhist Terror.”

The violence by extremist Buddhist monks, who preach a dangerous form of religious chauvinism to their followers have caused killings of Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. But, what has been happening in Myanmar is in epic proportion. Monks and their followers with full support from Aung San Suu Kyi and her so-called democratic government and the army personnel are killing Rohingya Muslims and burning their homes. Social media outlets are full of video clips of this genocide. Some of those videos are so graphic and violent that it is difficult to watch. So far, thousands of Rohingya Muslims including women and children have been killed. Around 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge to the neighboring country, Bangladesh.

We understand that there is no quick fix to ethnicity and religion-based conflicts. We are all for negotiated peaceful resolution of the crisis. But we are also against any killing whether it is by the Buddhists or by the Muslims. We value every human life and believe that killing one human is the same as killing the entire human race.

We hope Aung San Suu Kyi will take immediate steps to stop the killing while they are hopefully trying to find a negotiated peaceful resolution to end the genocide and humanitarian crisis facing the Rakhine Muslims in Sittwe. The whole world will be watching what Aung San Suu Kyi does next and what happens next in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

PEACE - what a nostalgic word!!!!

*The author, Mohammad Bhuiyan, PhD, is a Bangladeshi American, and a candidate for Georgia's 6th Congressional district seat.

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