“We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not, be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers,” these words were spoken by the UN human rights chief Zeid al Hussein.
Violation of human rights has been a highly challenging issue in the modern world as thousands of people, including women and children, are burning amidst war and violence. As a result of unmitigated insurgency, the fundamental rights of ethnic minorities have been denied and their freedoms are curtailed. Individuals, including Muslims, are targeted indiscriminately on the grounds of their faiths and beliefs.
The tension between Muslims and Buddhists is one of the highly challenging issues, which lingers up to now in Myanmar. On December 2016, former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, visited Myanmar for talks with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, regarding simmering tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine State, on the western coast of the country.
Rohingya is home to one million displaced people, most belonging to the Rohingya community. It is one of the largest stateless populations in the world, in spite of their belief that they are indigenous to Rakhine. The Rohingya have been called the most persecuted people in the world - at this moment in time - and are denied Myanmarese citizenship. Physical violence against them is common, with hundreds killed and thousands of houses belonging to them burned down since 2012. Reports of sexual abuse by the police and even the army have also been rife, with many Rohingya denied access to healthcare, means of employment and food. One hundred thousand people, Buddhists and Muslims, are estimated to be displaced as a result of the violence between the two groups. As a result, about 66,000 people have fled from Rakhine to Bangladesh since the army launched a security operation in response to attacks on police border posts on October 9, 2016. The UN humanitarian office has put the figure at 69,000. Both sides are believed to seek a peaceful resolution to a conflict in one of the most ethnically complex countries in the world. The Rohingya believe they have as much right to Rakhine as the Buddhist community does. “Rohingya are not illegal immigrants because the Rohingya did not come to this country after its independence. We are the indigenous citizens of this country,” Abdul Rasheed, Chairman of the Rohingya Foundation, is quoted as saying.
Historians debate whether the Rohingya were living in Myanmar pre-independence - when it was still known as Burma - in 1948. However, they have always lived primarily in Rakhine. But unlike many other ethnic groups - and there are hundreds of them, they were never considered part of the Myanmar's population. They were frequently denied the right to participate in elections and many considered them to be from neighboring Bangladesh, migrating to Myanmar after the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.
Muslims bear the brunt of violence in Myanmar. Earlier, reports said that Myanmar’s security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims and burned down villages since October in a campaign, that likely amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing, according to the United Nations. “The ‘area clearance operations’ have likely resulted in hundreds of deaths,” a report from the UN’s human rights office said.
Zeid al Hussein expressed his deep concern in this regard and said that Aung San Suu Kyi promised to investigate the issue. However, the fact is that human rights are violated in the worst possible way in Myanmar and Muslims have been changed into sacrificial lamb. The UN reported earlier that three children aged six or younger being “slaughtered with knives”. Citing witness accounts, the rights office said, “An eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five security officers.”
The tragic incidents and atrocity are highly outrageous and seem to overshadow ideologies practiced by some radical groups. In other words, the inhumane practices in Myanmar will shake one’s conscience. No wonder, the humiliation of human rights and dignity is the root of much violence around the globe. For instance, terrorist groups pay no heed to human rights and humanitarian law. Therefore, they trampled upon the dignity and liberty of people and created tension around the entire globe.
Both the past and the present show that lack of religious tolerance on one hand and claiming racial superiority on the other, have led to indescribable violence. Human societies suffered from conflagration which rooted from the two aforementioned issues. Currently, the history repeats itself, mainly in Islamic societies, and radical figures target people under the aegis of religious terms. It is believed that the current bleeding will never end unless men are tolerant to one another and accept one another as they are regardless of their race, color and creed.
The international community is hoped to engage in Myanmar’s issue so as to protect the human rights and dignity of the Myanmarese nation. Violent treatment and atrocity will deteriorate the situation through sparkling off the sense of revenge. Human societies will have to stop the history from repeating and the past bloodbath must be an eye-opener for the world.