Many would have been wondering why on earth the Rohingyas in Myanmar are not only abandoned but also terrorised inhumanely by the Myanmar-government.
It has to be reluctantly admitted, however, that the highly prejudicial view of against the Muslims is the main culprit for all the sufferings the Rohingya going through. It might be surprising, but this is what has been discovered by The Economist via their investigative journalists, recently.
Ashin Wirathu, a prominent monk in Myanmar, is of the view that Buddhism is in grave danger with the very existence of the Muslims in the country. To substantiate his view, he even said that centuries ago, Indonesia was a Buddhist and Hindu country, but eventually became a Muslim state.
Wirathu also pointed out the never-ending battle between Muslim insurgents and the Philippine- army in the Southern Philippine to support his stereotypical views on Muslims.
The leader of the Buddhist charity known among the locals as Ma Ba Tha, Wirathu is the central figure responsible for stoking hatred against the Muslims, who make up about four percent of the population. Among these, Rohingya only account for a million. They are descendants of the Bangladeshis who were brought in by the British during the colonial era.
Currently, the Rohingya occupy Rakhine, a state near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. They are stateless and have been excluded from Myanmar’s official list of 135 aborigine ethnic groups, despite living there for generations.
Last year, an attack by Muslim militants in Rakhine, which claimed the lives of several security officers further escalated enmity of the security force against the Rohingya.
This incident, according to the UN and other human rights groups, warranted the Myanmar army to launch a rampage, in which the soldiers embarked on a campaign of rape, murder, and torture against the Rohingya.
To add salt to the wound, the security forces also razed their villages, which resulted in some 75,000 of them fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. Yet, the Myanmar government turned a blind eye on its armed forces’ evil deeds against the Rohingya.
Because of Ma Ba Tha’s fearmongering tactics, even political leaders are reluctant to reprimand Buddhists for being dangerously stereotypical towards the Rohingyas. Among the leaders who keep mum on the issue is Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s leader, probably fearing the backlash from the general public who generally view Rohingya as a serious threat to their culture and way of life. Saying anything in support of the oppressed minority could jeopardise her post as de facto leader of the country.
A 2015 survey by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business found that almost 90 percent of hateful online posts were directed towards Muslims. Despite comprising almost 90 percent of the Myanmar population, some Buddhist citizens still fear that the minority Muslims will “outbreed” them. On top of this, there are a number of policies based on Wirathu’s ideas that have been passed in the previous army-dominated parliament to reduce the Muslim population systematically.
Therefore, Malaysia’s strong stance against the Myanmar government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the Rohingya in Rakhine should be most welcomed and supported. More importantly, it should not be politicised to the extent of dampening the importance of the issue.
In other words, it is OK if you are not helping, but please do not discourage others who wish to show support and give a helping hand to the helpless Rohingya.
As in the case of Rohingya, the government is also responsible for voicing out the dissatisfaction of the people it represents without fear or favour, should minorities in any nation, regardless of their race or religion, be mistreated by their government.