Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

Mounting Violence in Myanmar

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Mounting Violence in Myanmar

Violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar – also known as Burma – continues despite the international condemnation. Women and children, who are highly vulnerable to the issue, carry with them lugubrious stories. They are treated with humiliation and their human rights and dignity are trampled upon. Life has changed into a real nightmare for the Rohingya. The systematic violence carried out by Myanmar security forces is called ethnic cleansing – the claim which is denied by the Myanmar government.
An overwhelming body of published accounts has detailed the Myanmar Army’s campaign of killing, rape and arson in Rakhine, which has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya out of the country since late August, in what the United Nations says is the fastest displacement of a people since the Rwanda genocide.
Myanmar Buddhist majority treat Rohingya Muslims as pariahs and spread hatred and propaganda against them and hide the facts about the cruel practices of security forces. For instance, the country’s social welfare minister Dr. Win Myat Aye is cited as saying, “There is no case of the military killing Muslim civilians. Muslim people killed their own Muslim people”. Even the name Rohingya, which the ethnic group has identified with more vocally in recent years, has been taken from them. The Myanmar government usually refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis, implying they belong in Bangladesh. In popular videos, extremist monks refer to the Rohingya as “snakes” or “worse than dogs.”
Public sentiment against Muslims – who are about 4 percent of Myanmar’s population, encompassing several ethnic groups, including the Rohingya – has spread beyond Rakhine. It is said that in 2015 elections, no major political party fielded a Muslim candidate. Today no Muslims serve in Parliament, the first time since the country’s independence.
The ethnocentric mindset and practices of Buddhist majority in Myanmar has outraged the conscience of the entire nation. There is no doubt that ethnocentrism is highly destructive in human society. The Second World War rooted in ethnocentric mentality and racial superiority. When an ethnic group is treated with contempt and their rights and freedoms are violated on the grounds of their race or religion, war and violence will emerge forthwith. In fact, “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts” within the human history. On the other hand, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.
To have a peaceful society, a nation will have to exercise tolerance and cherish the idea of peaceful coexistence. All nations in a society have equal rights and dignity and have to be treated equally. However, when one is segregated or maltreated, the stability of that society will be at stake. Now it is believed that the political stability of the Myanmar will be jeopardized and perhaps militants and terrorist groups will target Myanmar for their cruel practices against Muslims. Similarly, Buddhists might come under attacks in other parts of the world. Hence, this is a politically egregious error of Myanmar government.
To show a reaction against Myanmar government, the US is reportedly considering sanctions against Myanmar authorities for its “violent, traumatic abuses”. According to reports, Washington may use a human rights law to target leader or groups involved in the violence in the western state.
The US State Department said it has already cut off travel waivers allowing current and former senior military leaders into the country and was considering further actions to impose economic measures against those responsible for atrocities against Myanmar’s ethnic minority. The department added that all military units involved in operations against the Rohingya were ineligible for American aid.
The US government last imposed sanctions on Myanmar in 1997 when it was under a military dictatorship. Following a transition toward democracy, the measures were lifted in October 2016 by then president Barack Obama.
The punitive measure of the US will mitigate the issue to some extent. Only offering condolence or feeing regret will not be a panacea for the ongoing sufferings of Rohingya. Similar to the US policy, all states will have to show reaction towards this issue, which is called ethnic cleansing by the United Nations. Imposing a worldwide sanctions against the Myanmar government will be a right strategy in this respect.
The fact is that violence against Rohingya Muslims is self-destructive and will destabilize Myanmar in the future. What if Rohingyas are armed and return to Myanmar to take revenge? Hence, government will have to stop violence to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood to have a peaceful coexistence and a stable state. In brief, such practices, which are against the international instruments, will not only blacken the reputation of Myanmar officials but will jeopardize the life of Buddhists in other parts of the world and put Myanmar at risk.

Today, masking the fact will not be possible and government officials must not spend their energy in this regard. Additionally, nothing can justify the discrimination and inhuman acts of Myanmar security forces. So, such practices should be stopped so as to avoid the consequences.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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