New York Times Journalist: If you saw a Muslim boy, your age, what would you do? How would you react?
8-year-old Buddhist: I’ll kill him.
Mohammedia, Morocco- Myanmar, or Burma, is an Asian country bordered by Thailand, China, and Bangladesh. The majority of Myanmar’s population is Bamar Buddhist (Chinese origins) but there is, nonetheless, a significant number of ethnic minority groups living in the country, with the list including the Karen, Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Rohingya and various others. Out of the aforementioned array of ethnicities, the Rohingyas are probably the most known around the world due to the persecution they are constantly subject to, a persecution which makes the headlines time and again.
The Rohingya comprise 4% of Burma’s total population. They originally came from Bengal, with most Maynmar’s Rohingyas considered as followers of the Muslim faith. In all fairness, Bamar Buddhists attack various minority groups in the said country, yet comparing those atrocities to the ones the Rohingyas are subject to pales in contrast. As a matter of fact, back in 2013, it was estimated that more than 250 Rohingyas were slaughtered while tens of thousands were displaced following a wave of attacks by Buddhist extremists. In 2014, Human Rights Watch published a report stating that 44 Rohingyas have been killed and approximately 12 000 person were displaced due to the attacks from the said Burmese gangs. Tragically, police forces not only did not intervene to protect the Rohingyas, and by extension their properties, but sadly, some of the country’s authorities participated in this genocide against humanity, simply because the Rohingyas do not share the same beliefs they do.
Today, most of the Rohingyas live in Rakhine, a city in the west of the country. They were forced to live by the Myanmar government in what the New York Times well-known journalist Nicholas Kristof referred to in his documentary (check video above) as “21st-Century Concentration Camps.”
In those 21st-century concentration camps, the Rohingyas are systematically and deliberately separated from the rest of the population. They live in ghettos and are denied access to education and health care. Their lands, houses, and properties were either ruined by Buddhist gangs or confiscated by government officials. The Burmese government seems not only not willing to do anything significant to change the situation, but they are deliberately contributing to the segregation, displacement, and killing of the Rohingyas, clearly participating in what scholars define as “ethnic cleansings” or “genocides.”
To add more salt to injury, the latest wave of anti-Rohingya attacks and governmental prosecutions by the Buddhist majority in the months of April/Mai 2015 has forced Rohingya Muslims to flee the country by boats with an aim to seek refuge in other neighboring countries. At the beginning, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand turned many boats away, leaving the migrants adrift for weeks. What is tearing me inside is that the U.S. and Great Britain are lightly “pressuring” the aforementioned Asian countries to take in the stranded Rohingas, instead of harshly condemning and putting all their weight on the issue to end, once for all, the ongoing atrocities the Rohingas and other minority groups in the said country are subject to.
To my eyes, these occurrences have yet again revealed the double-standard of the Mass Media and the contempt with which the so-called democracy-and Human-Rights-preaching-western-countries hold of Muslims and other ethnicities. It is true that the Mass Media is covering from time to time this ethnic cleansing, yet their discourse uncovers their double-standard attitude. This is salient when the one examines thoroughly and carefully the headlines and reports broadcasted on the subject, where the displaced and prosecuted Muslims are referred to as “unwanted migrants”, “Asian Migrants” and other labels. The religious orientation of those displaced individuals is intentionally hidden. Suppose, on the other hand, that an Islamic country, displaced, killed, and prosecuted Christians or Jews. We would have seen headlines in the Mass Media of the like of, “Muslim State deports Christians from its territory”, “Anti-Semitism is rising again”, or “Hitler is back”.
Very sadly, since the Rohingyas are Muslims, let it be genocide or Nazi-like concentration camps, it does not really matter….