The persecuted Rohingya are being driven from their homeland. They flee Myanmar, and end up in Bangladesh. Now the government there wants to force them onto an easily-flooded island. Where will they lay their head?
The Rohingya are a minority in Myanmar, Muslims in a Buddhist-majority country. They are persecuted by their government, told they do not belong in their own land. A long-lasting wave of persecutions drove them into contained refugee camps. The current pogrom came after a few Rohingya committed a violent act.
After enough state brutality, a few violent Rohingya attacked a guard post, killing twelve people. That was the moment that the elites had wanted. They had the guns and clubs. All they needed was a legal precedent. The government used this as an excuse to harry the beleaguered people into more misery. That is the current state of play. The Rohingyas’ homeland, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), does not recognize their basic human rights. They do not possess citizenship in their own country.
Per the Times:
Myanmar’s military appears to have resumed scorched-earth tactics against Muslim Rohingya that were of such “devastating cruelty” last year, according to the United Nations, that they most likely constituted “crimes against humanity.”Tens of thousands of desperate Rohingya are fleeing Rakhine State, where a government operation began after attacks by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on Aug 25. Since then, Myanmar’s military reports nearly 400 people have been killed, mostly insurgents, but Rohingya reaching Bangladesh report widespread atrocities by the military, including deliberate killings of civilians. The insurgents said they were reacting to abuses by the military, which reportedly moved a battalion into the region about a month ago, prompting concern from the United Nations about the Rohingya’s fate.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the one-time Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has condoned this suffering, and is a chief villain in this tragedy.
As George Monbiot notes in the Guardian,
I doubt she has read the UN human rights report on the treatment of the Rohingyas, released in February. The crimes it revealed were horrific. It documents the mass rape of women and girls, some of whom died as a result of the sexual injuries they suffered. It shows how children and adults had their throats slit in front of their families. It reports the summary executions of teachers, elders and community leaders; helicopter gunships randomly spraying villages with gunfire; people shut in their homes and burnt alive; a woman in labour beaten by soldiers, her baby stamped to death as it was born.
It details the deliberate destruction of crops and the burning of villages to drive entire populations out of their homes; people trying to flee gunned down in their boats. And this is just one report. Amnesty International published a similar dossier last year. There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that these actions are an attempt to eliminate this ethnic group from Myanmar. Hard as it is to imagine, this campaign of terror has escalated in recent days. Refugees arriving in Bangladesh report widespread massacres. Malnutrition ravages the Rohingya, afflicting 80,000 children.
The United Nations reached out to Bangladesh and India to aid the refugees crossing their border. The line separating the two countries consists of forests and hills, and so it is challenging to keep out suffering people. As Reuters reports:
Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most crowded nations, plans to go ahead with work to develop an isolated, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, officials say. Dhaka says the Rohingya are not welcome, and has told border guards to push back those trying to enter the country illegally. But close to 125,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh in just 10 days, joining more than 400,000 others already living there in cramped makeshift camps.
To put people on the island of Thengar Char is not humane, but it is better than leaving the Rohingya to the monstrous persecutions of their own government. No man is an island, nor any nation. When will Myanmar, and the false saint that leads them, see that the cry of these people is the cause of the world, and of human dignity?