by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 8, Muharram, 1439)
The Rohingya Muslims are facing another genocide at the hands of the Myanmar regime and machete-wielding Buddhist vigilantes. More than 425,000 have been forced to flee to squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh in three weeks. They did not choose to do so; they were forced to flee because the heavily armed Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist vigilantes have made clear the Rohingya have no place in Myanmar.
More than 50% of Rohingya villages in Rakhine state have been torched and destroyed. In numerous instances, the occupants were burned inside their homes. Rohingya women have been raped and their children hacked to death. Faced with acts of such brutality, these terrified people had to flee.
Despite the squalid conditions in Bangladeshi refugee camps — it is rainy season and the ground has turned into a mud swamp — the Rohingya have no choice; staying put means certain death. More than 70% of the refugees are children. Almost everyone is barefoot. Walking for days through paddy fields, they have blisters and other injuries on their feet leading to infectious diseases.
The Rakhine state borders Bangladesh, thus it is the only country they can flee to, but Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajed opposes their entry. It was through the direct intervention of Turkish President Recep Tayib Erdogan offering to pay for their costs that the Rohingya refugees were allowed into Bangladesh. Ms. Wajed, however, insists they must go back to Myanmar. She does not care if they are killed.
The remainder of the Rohingya have either escaped to the forests where they will starve to death if they do not get food immediately (the regime has blocked aid agencies from delivering food in Myanmar), or they will be killed in their villages that are surrounded by heavily armed soldiers and machete-wielding Buddhists. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto ruler of Myanmar used the presence of Rohingya trapped in their villages to claim 50% of them were still there and “safe.” She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and had appealed to the world when she was under house arrest to secure her freedom. She neither cares for the Rohingya’s freedom, nor even recognizes them as citizens of Myanmar. She insists on calling them “Bengalis” and illegal immigrants. Other Myanmar officials have been even more racist in their pronouncements.
The ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Rohingya once again highlights the weakness of the Muslim world. There are 57 Muslim nation-states but apart from three countries — Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan — the rest have either maintained a deathly silence or even shown hostility to the Rohingya. At the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretariat in Jeddah, representatives of Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia have been working to sabotage efforts to help these persecuted people. They want to maintain good relations with Myanmar for commercial reasons. The attitude of the Arabian rulers that take great umbrage at the slightest insult to their person, have shown indifference bordering on contempt.
There are at least 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Myanmar’s total population is 43 million. Why are 1.6 billion Muslims or their rulers so helpless in the face of such horrendous crimes? Imagine if the Rohingya were Christians or Jews; would Christian countries have shown such callous disregard for their co-religionists? What about Israel if these people were Jews? It is inconceivable that it would have remained indifferent in the face of such crimes. The case of the Falasha Jews who were airlifted from Ethiopia in 1986 reflects Israel’s policy. Zionist Israel may have had an ulterior motive; the fact is, though, it takes care of its own.
Only Muslim rulers have failed the Muslim masses. The Muslim world is neither poor nor weak; what is lacking is willpower and compassion. This brings us to the question of what committed Muslims ought to do. This intolerable situation cannot continue.
There have been far too many crises that have afflicted ordinary Muslims. The overwhelming majority of refugees in the world are Muslim as are most of the poor. There have been successive waves of refugees from Kashmir and Palestine to Bosnia, Iraq, Syria, and now Myanmar.
Most Muslim rulers are cowards; they stand condemned and must be overthrown. This must start with the illegitimate royals of Saudi Arabia who have usurped the sacred cities of Makkah and Madinah. If the Hijaz were liberated from the clutches of Bani Saud, allowing the Muslims to go there and enaged with one another, then they would be able to begin to seek solutions to their myriad problems.