Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Summarized by Z.H Al Fayta
The Rakhine (Arakan) state now looks like a prison-like ghetto for the Rohingya people. Now, the Rohingya homes are ring-fenced by burnt-out buildings and military checkpoints. Outside the capital city of Sittwe (Akyab), up to 100,000 more Rohingyas are living in a series of sweltering refugee camps where malnourishment and disease are rife and where security forces and local Rakhine activists impede aid workers from operating freely. As a result of years of persecution and a slow but steady genocidal campaign, half the Rohingya population has already been pushed out. Others living inside are counting their days to get out of this living hell. Can our generation allow such an obliteration of an entire community?
The Myanmar government wants to hide its heinous crimes against the Rohingya people and, thus, have not allowed access of the international media, NGOs, aid groups and even the UN to the troubled region to investigate, monitor and assess the scale of the violence. Since the elimination of the Rohingya people one way or another is the declared state objective, no aid has reached from the Myanmar government agencies to the Muslim victims. And what is worse, even the relief materials sent from the OIC and the Islamic Relief have not reached the intended Rohingya victims. Less than 10% of such aids have trickled down to the victims. The Myanmar government, thanks to the state-managed protests and demonstrations in October by racist Buddhists that included monks, has also barred the OIC and Muslim relief agencies from opening offices inside the Rakhine state to help the Rohingya victims.
What is going on inside the Rakhine state is simply a purposeful policy designed by the Myanmar government in which the members of the majority Rakhine ethnic group, which is Buddhist by faith, are willing executioners to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of the Rohingya ethnic community, which are Muslims, from the geographic areas of Arakan and Myanmar. The United Nations define such activities as ethnic cleansing. No hog-washing by the murderous regime and its supporters at home and abroad will succeed to hide such monumental crimes.
The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people is a text book case. It has become a national project that is led by the Myanmar state at the central level and the Rakhine state at the local level, supported by a good percentage of the Buddhist nation and its dominant Burman and Rakhine ethnic groups, and which employs large institutional and material resources.
The worst criminals in this extermination campaign are, however, the fellow Rakine Buddhists, whose ancestors settled in Arakan beginning in the 11th century, i.e., centuries after the darker complexioned Indo-Bengali ancestors of the Rohingya people had already settled in this coastal territory once ruled by the Hindu Chandra dynasty, which had closer ties with Bengal (today’s Bangladesh).
During the Second World War, taking advantage of the Japanese occupation of Burma, the Buddhist forces which had allied themselves with the Fascist Japanese Imperial Army against the British Raj, targeted the Indian and Muslim population and their homes and businesses. Even the Rohingya Muslims who lived in the western territories did not escape the extermination campaign. Nearly a hundred thousand of them were killed in that joint campaign. They were pushed out of the southern parts of the Arakan state; and many managed to survive by living in northern territories, closer to the Bengal, where they were a solid majority. Another 80,000 settled permanently in Bengal to save their lives. Two hundred and ninety four Muslim villages were totally destroyed.
Even after Burma achieved its independence, sadly, the mass elimination and targeted violence against the Rohingya and other Muslims continued. To the best of my knowledge, at least two dozen campaigns have been directed against them to ethnically cleanse them.
01. Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) – November 1948
02. Burma Territorial Force (BTF) – Operation 1949-50
03. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) – March 1951-52
04. Mayu Operation – October 1952-53
05. Mone-thone Operation – October 1954
06. Combined Immigration and Army Operation – January 1955
07. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation – 1955-58
08. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation – 1959
09. Shwe Kyi Operation – October 1966
10. Kyi Gan Operation – October-December 1966
11. Ngazinka Operation – 1967-69
12. Myat Mon Operation – February 1969-71
13. Major Aung Than Operation – 1973
14. Sabe Operation February – 1974-78
15. Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation – February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh; 40,000 died)
16. Shwe Hintha Operation – August 1978-80
17. Galone Operation – 1979
18. 1984 Pogrom in Taunggok
19. Anti-Muslim riots – Taunggyi (western Burma), Pyay and many other parts of Burma including Rangoon – 1987-88
20. Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)
21. Na-Sa-Ka Operation – since 1992
22. Race riot against Muslims – March 1997 (Mandalay)
23. Anti-Muslim riot in Sittwe – February 2001
24. Anti-Muslim full-scale riot in Central Burma – May 2001
25. Anti-Muslim violence throughout central Burma (especially in the cities of Pyay/Prome, Bago/Pegu) after 9/11 – October 2001
26. Joint extermination campaign – June 3, 2012 – to date.
Every attempt has been made by the Myanmar government since the days of General Ne Win to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya people and deny them human rights. They were declared stateless, thus licensing every crime directed against them; not a single Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was honored. Here below is a shortlist of such crimes against the Rohingya people:
• Denial of Citizenship
• Restriction of Movement or Travel
• Restriction on Education
• Restriction on Ability to work
• Forced Labor
• Land Confiscation
• Forced Eviction
*Destruction of homes, offices, schools, mosques, etc.
• Religious persecution
• Ethnic discrimination
• Restrictions on Marriage of Rohingyas
• Prevention of reproduction and forced abortion
• Arbitrary Taxation and Extortion
• Registration of births and deaths in families and even of cattle, and the associated extortion
• Arbitrary arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing
• Abuse of Rohingya Women and Elders
• Rape as a weapon of war
• Depopulation of Rohingya community
• Confiscation of residency/citizenship cards
• Internally displaced persons or undocumented refugees and statelessness
• Destruction or alteration of historical Muslim sites and shrines to erase its symbolism or Islamic identity.
The UN and other international human rights groups have called the Rohingya Muslims, and rightly so, the worst persecuted people in our planet. Because of their race and religion, they are victims of genocide in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Truly, no other word in the English language but genocide can describe what the Rohingya people are facing. The use of this term should not come as a surprise since the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.” As noted by experts, the term can be applied to such destructions in whole or in part of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. By any definition, the Rohingya people of Arakan are ethnically, racially, religiously different than the Rakhine Buddhists and majority Burmans in Myanmar.
In his book – Worse than War – Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen cites five principal forms of elimination: transformation, repression, expulsion, prevention of reproduction, and extermination. Transformation involves the destruction of a targeted group’s essential and defining political, social, or cultural identities. As I have mentioned earlier, in spite of their ties to the soil of Arakan since time immemorial, the Rohingyas are falsely alleged by the dominant ethnic groups as new settlers from nearby Bangladesh.
Repression entails keeping the hated, deprecated, or feared people within territorial reach and reducing, with violent domination, their ability to inflict real or imagined harm upon others. Such repression has been a regular feature of Rohingya life inside Myanmar.
Expulsion, often called deportation, is a third eliminations option. It removes unwanted people more thoroughly, by driving them beyond a country’s borders, or from one region of a country to another, or compelling them en masse into camps. The Myanmar government since the days of Ne Win has been guilty of this crime.
Prevention of reproduction is the fourth eliminationist act, which the Myanmar government has been employing in conjunction with others. Not only are the Rohingya families restricted from marrying, the women are often forcibly sterilized, forced to abort and very often raped. In recent months, during attacks on Muslim homes, villages and towns the kidnapping of the Rohingya girls and women have become a recurring event.
Extermination is the fifth eliminationist act in which the targeted groups are killed, often with the excuse that their very existence poses a mortal threat. It promises not an interim, not a piecemeal, not only a probable, but a “final solution” to the putative problem. It is not difficult to see why in recent weeks, poisoned oil and food were sold to the Rohingya people by Rakhine businessmen to kill them. The latest activities by the Rakhine terrorists, aided by racist monks and others within the larger Myanmar society, including murderous politicians and government authorities, thus, clearly show that Rohingyas are victims of an extermination act.
A comparison with the previously cited list of crimes of the Myanmar government clearly shows that Rohingyas are facing all the five forms of elimination. It is a complete package of annihilation of the Rohingya people!
Genocide requires preparation and planning. It begins in the minds of men and needs mass mobilization to commit the horror against the targeted group. The perpetrators or the executioners must not only feel secure but also must be self-motivated and zealous to commit their horrendous crimes. Often times, the task of preparing the mind is left to ideologues and chauvinist intellectuals who sell the poison tablet of intolerance against the targeted group. Without political leadership the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators would not lift a finger in harm. However, once set in motion, typically with a few encouraging and enabling words, they, both the eliminationist regimes’ shock troops and their societies’ ordinary members give themselves, body and soul, to death. They do so easily, effortlessly. And this is what we are witnessing today in Myanmar, esp. the Arakan state.
For genocide to happen, it is always a national project in which people of all walks of life participate, and that is what is happening with the Rohingya problem inside Myanmar.
In government managed newspapers, they announced dire consequences against anyone doing any business with Muslims including selling food and buying or renting out homes to and from them. As hinted above, it is a copy of the Nazi era policy. It is a total package of ethnically cleansing Myanmar of the Muslim population, in general, and the Rohingyas, in particular. So insidious is Myanmar’s Buddhist fascism, the Rakhine Buddhists living inside and outside Arakan and their patrons in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not want any Muslim, esp. the Rohingya, living inside Myanmar, esp. in the Rakhine state.
None of these attacks since June 3 are isolated, unplanned, or spontaneous offenses. Already made stateless by the highly discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law that is at variance with scores of international laws, the Rohingyas are falsely blamed by fascist Rakhine politicians for crimes that they did not commit so that the Buddhist populace could be incited to accept and assist the progressively savage operations of “race purification.” Lynching attacks are organized by Aye Maung’s fascist party – RNDP and other equally racist Rakhine politicians and greedy businessmen to loot Rohingya properties and burn their homes, businesses and mosques.
Rohingya property is confiscated. In this task the Rakhine-dominated security forces and police are willing partners. As a result, the Rohingyas are now caged in concentration-like camps and ghettos or pushed into exile. The genocidal program is progressing in fury and irresponsibility to the “final solution” to make them an extinct people.
We can still stop this extinction if our powerful western governments act. They can pressure the Thein Sein government through the UN Security Council not only to stop this ethnic cleansing and restore Rohingya citizenship, but also ensure that the Rohingyas are compensated for their loss of lives and properties and live with safety and security under UN-monitored safe havens created to the west of the Kaladan River. If the regime resists such tangible changes, the UNSC members can take the criminal leaders of Myanmar and the Rakhine state to a Nuremberg-type trial for committing heinous crimes against humanity, let alone ban all economic transactions with the rogue regime.
Unfortunately, the attitude of the powerful nations towards the Rohingya problem is a reminiscent of the Nazi era; they refuse to see and hear the obvious truth. It is simply immoral and inexcusable. They are buying and parroting the Myanmar regime’s argument, that the conflict is basically two-sided with two large racial groups attacking each other. This is a false equivalence. When all the townships that are burning, and refugees, are from one side – the Rohingya, and when renowned activists, Buddhist monks, and local Rakhine politicians and students are using language reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda, something truly catastrophic is underway seeking “final solution” of the Rohingya problem. Nothing can hide this ugly truth!
How many Rohingya deaths and destruction of their homes would qualify for these powerful nations to act and stop this most far-flung and terrible racial persecution of our time? How can we ignore or tolerate such a calculated, malignant and devastating crime, which epitomizes racial hatreds, religious bigotry, terrorism and violence, and the arrogance and cruelty of power?
Witnessing the latest genocidal campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, it is obvious that we have failed on both counts – to eliminate “the causes” and to prevent “the repetition of these barbaric events.”
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