The silence of the world in Myanmar

Ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees during a protest in Kuala Lumpur against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Photo credit: AFP/MANAN VATSYAYANA

By Musa Toyyib Olaniyi

In southeast Asia is a country called Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, that shares borders with Bangladesh. It is an heterogeneous country with about 135 ethnic groups and a diverse population comprising Muslims and Buddhists. The Muslims are in the minority. They live in Rohingya in Northern Rhakine state and speak Rohingya dialect.

This more than 1 million people have been described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”. They have no access to work, education, healthcare and other social amenities. They are denied citizenship and rendered stateless in their own country. A good number of them are refugees in Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries where they are also not recognised as part of humanity.

Myanmar has passed through decades of ruinous military interventions in her political affairs and today, it is under a democratic government though considered weak under the leadership of Ms Aung Sun Kyi.

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The attempt by the Burmese government in collusion with the Buddhist majority ethnic groups to perpetrate ethnic cleansing in Rohingya has been on for quite a while and, it is therefore not a new development and the world is not unaware of this. But hardly does the world make it an issue.

Since a few days ago, the country’s army has descended on the Rohingya Muslims, carrying out one of the worst genocides in modern time against them. Whole villages are being razed while rape of women and mass murder are carried out in broad daylight.  The world heard and chose to remain silent.

The President of Burmar, Suu Kyi, has been silent and unresponsive to the atrocities of his army against unarmed civilians and a whole ethnic group. Strangely, Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Laureate. What an irony! A peace Laureate presiding over the massacre of a whole ethnic group.

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The silence of the world is deafening and hypocritical. Are Muslims not human beings?  Are there different sets of laws for Muslims and non- Muslims? Should the world loose its outrage, voice and limbs when Muslims are being persecuted?  The only news that excites the world about Islam is that of ISIS and Boko Haram. And it is injustice and indifference as this that breed terrorism.

To some people, terrorism is self-help against oppression and tyranny.

As thousands of Burmese Muslims are being gruesomely murdered while hundreds of thousands more are being displaced, America, the self -acclaimed world police and defender of human liberty, has lost her voice when it matters most.

Another irony again; the US did not only loose her voice, it is actually perfecting bills on bilateral military relations with the Burmese government in Congress. The import of this, to America, is that nothing is happening in Burma. Frankly, the US considers Burma a partner and she is not in haste to strain the existing relationship between them even though the hands of Burmese government are drenched in blood.

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This is a clarion call to the world not to look the other way when injustice is being visited on individuals or a whole group or demographic category simply because such are Muslims. Such hypocrisy, lessen the love in the world, only to deepen the fissures in it and elevate hate and mutual suspicions among its differing demographics.

May God heal our world, Ameen.

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