By Humza Butt
Special to the Chronicle
Genocide is a hefty word, most of us relate it to the dark ages of humanity and consider the heinous practice to be completely archaic. But it is an unfortunate fact that, little known to western society, is still in practice in many different parts of the world.
While we take sides in defining the genocides that took place in Palestine, Syria or Kashmir, almost all members of the 21st century human race are on the same page regarding its ethical verdicts: It’s wrong.
One addition to the list of countries with historical genocides is Myanmar, which under the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, is ethnically cleansing the Rohingya community. The Rohingya are a community with a Muslim majority and a small Hindu minority. They speak the Rohingya language – which closely resembles to the Chittagong accent of Bengali.
According to historians, this community has been settled in present-day Myanmar since the 12th century, but today they are described by some U.N. officials as “the most persecuted stateless people in the world.”
During the century-long British rule, people were displaced internally within the boundaries of India, which the current Myanmar government regards as illegal. Due to this the Rohingya were not recognized as a community in the Union Citizenship Act of Myanmar in 1948. The 1962 coup in the country also deprived them from their status as a foreign community and they were not included in the list of the 135 native groups that were living in Myanmar during the 1982 citizenship laws. Myanmar’s reluctance to accept the groups as their citizens caused the Rohingya to rebel and work to attain their rights as citizens. This resulted in military operations, rapes and mass killing of the Rohingya, which continues even today.
Putting this in simple terms, they are denied the rights to get basic education, jobs, health facilities and even the right to be citizens of the country that they lived in for centuries. And we all know how easy it is to cleanse a population of a minority that asks for basic human rights, when they are not even documented as residents of any country. Hence, under different waves of crackdowns, thousands have been butchered in the most disgusting way that one couldn’t even imagine using against “savages.” Incidents of rapes, murders and, in some cases, the destruction of entire villages have gone unreported, not only by the local media, but also by the self-proclaimed champions of justice – western media.
While everyone in the U.S. was busy counting down the seconds of the hyped “eclipse of the century,” the Rohingya were being slaughtered in scores, with only piles of limbs or other mutilated body parts left to rot in the open. When Muslims all around the globe were preparing themselves for their yearly holiday, Eid al-Adha, the Rohingya found themselves begging for their lives as the most recent crackdown has been happening since Aug. 25. According to some reports, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people were killed during this period and over 2,600 houses were burned over the span of just three days. This has led to mass migration of almost 140,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh, which is the largest host of Rohingya refugees.
Before we discuss and take sides on the technicalities and causes of these atrocious crimes, as a progressive and peaceful generation, we need to unanimously denounce mass genocide and ethnic cleansing – regardless of its origin. The U.N. and western media need to take substantial measures to stop the Rohingya Genocide and extinguish this horrific fire before the flames reach our own doorsteps.
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