The Burma’s Oppressed Muslims Between International Silence & Media Bias

[09-08-2015 03:14 PM]

AMMONNEWS -By Hanin Kreishan- Burma, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is still oppressing 1.3 million Muslims of
a total population of 51,486,253 million Theravāda Buddhists. Muslims minorities are facing a
real genocide dilemma. Their only fault is that “they are Muslims”. The Human Rights Watch
report in March 1st, 2015 argued that:

“Government „repressed ethnic Rohingya Muslims, curtailed burgeoning media freedoms, and blocked crucial constitutional changes”.

Myanmar Muslims have experienced two big massacres by Buddhists. The first one was in 2012, and the second in 2015. The Human Rights Watch wrote an article in April 22, 2013, titled “Burma: End Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims; Unpunished Crimes Against Humanity, Humanitarian Crisis in Arakan State” to clarify what have Muslims of Rohingya have experienced during the massacres of 2012. Burma Muslims have been burned alive; infants as well as pregnant mothers, 5 years old children have been hanged, fathers killed, and the rape of Muslims’ women and girls. This all has been done with implicit agreement of the Burma’s government and global silence. Phil Robertson, the Deputy Asia Director at the Human Rights Watch talked about the Burma’s government involvements in oppressing Rohingya Muslims. He said:

“The Burmese government engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement. The government needs to put an immediate stop to the abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable or it will be responsible for further violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the country.”

The U.N. report in April, 2013, discussed the situation in Rakhine state and clarified the horrific genocide that happened in 2012 against Burma’s Muslims:

“In April 2013, The Special Reporter reiterates that the Burma has not fulfilled its obligation to properly investigate allegations, dating from June 2012, of extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence; arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment in detention; deaths in detention; and denial of due process and fair trial rights. It also has not held those responsible to account. He calls upon the international community, including the Human Rights Council, to remain seized of this matter and to consider further steps until Myanmar has fulfilled its obligations under international human rights law.”

Related to the same report; in June and October 2012, people who remained dislocated throughout Rakhine State were estimated at 140,000 following violence, as well as 36,000 people influenced by the crisis in isolated villages and host communities. The Special Reporter described Muslims of Aung Mingalar, which is a neighborhood in Sittwe, where almost 25,000 Muslim residents live in complete isolation even without any infrastructure. Most of the 84,000 internally displaced children throughout Rakhine State have already lost a year of education and, unless measures are taken immediately, they risk losing another academic year.

The Human Right Watch World Report 2015 clarifies facts of the frequent massacres and the “ethnic cleansing” that has been experienced by Rohingya Muslims. It discussed the cruelty against Rohingya systematic oppression of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s western Arakan State which happened in June and October 2012. Almost 1,000,000 Rohingya escaped to Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships along the Bangladesh border where they continued to face restrictions on movement, employment, and religious freedom. All Rohingya Muslims have no citizenship rights based on the 1982 Citizenship Law; declared that Rohingya Muslims and their children are stateless people.

The Human Right Watch World Report 2015 clarifies the situation of those who are trying to talk or bring the Burma’s Muslims’ voices to surface and are in jail;

“….There were at least 27 political prisoners in Burma at time of writing, according to former prisoner groups. Some 200 other people face charges for what appears to be efforts to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The joint government and civil society political prisoner review committee, formed in early 2013 to resolve remaining cases, broke down in 2014 due to disputes between the committee chair, President‟s Office Minister Soe Thane, and former prisoners. Soe Thane reportedly threatened members of the committee with loss of citizenship if they continued their criticism of the
government…, in October released 3,000 prisoners, only about a dozen of whom were political prisoners, including a number of ethnic Rohingya prisoners.”

Today, in 2015, media shows new violence that Burma Muslims are experiencing as a critical situation, with no health care, no food, no jobs, killing, rape, no education, and oppressing governmental laws applied only to Muslims; such as having only one baby for each Muslim family as well as they are forbidden to have any kind weapons. Muslims have been forced to flee their homes and head to the Indian Ocean searching for another place to live. No identities, and no specific direction, a long trip with no food for the babies, crying mothers are asking God’s mercy for their children, old people who cannot find any medical care, as well as small wooden boats sinking in the ocean. Three years of global silence after the big massacre in 2012, the issue has risen again in 2015. Although, the issue has existed for a while and without media coverage. Referring to the H.R.W. report, the number of Rohingya fleeing Arakan State by boat rose dramatically in 2014, with estimates suggesting that 50-100,000 have fled since the beginning of 2013, some were going to Malaysia and others had no direction at all. In January, 2014, an incident in a Rohingya village in Maungdaw township called Du Chee Yar Tan reportedly resulted in the killing of between 40 and 60 Muslims’ Rohingya villagers by security forces and Arakanese residents. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a short investigation under restrictive Burma’s government conditions and confirmed that a violent incident had taken place, and estimated that dozens of killings had occurred. Two government investigations and one by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission were below international standards and did not include impartial investigators. They all dismissed the incident as exaggerated. Refer to the report:7

“Journalists and independent human rights monitors have not been given adequate access to the area to investigate. Partly as fallout over this incident, the government suspended on a technicality the work of the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (M.S.F.) in Arakan State. This left tens of thousands of Rohingya without badly needed primary health care until MSF was permitted to resume activities in September. In late March, Arakanese ultra-nationalists conducted coordinated attacks on offices and warehouses of UN and international organizations in Sittwe, forcing the evacuation of over 200 foreign and Burmese aid workers. Continuing restrictions by security forces and threats by local militants have inhibited aid operations. In October, the secretive government Rakhine [Arakan] State Action Plan for long-term development was leaked. It included provisions for the forced relocation of all Rohingya camps, housing an estimated 130,000 people, to unspecified sites, and a nationality verification process to determine eligibility for citizenship under the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law. Those deemed ineligible would be sent to detention camps and face possible deportation.”

In 2014, thousands of civilians fled military abuses, and reported shelling of populated areas. More than 100,000 civilians in Kachin State have fled following fighting from 2011 to 2013. The security situation stays tense with a large Burmese army troop presence, landmines, and continued abuses by government forces. Displaced persons in government-controlled areas are facing arbitrary arrest and torture from security forces, including for allegedly supporting Kachin insurgents in violation of the Unlawful Associations Act. Almost 350,000 people are currently internally displaced in eastern Burma, and more than 110,000 refugees are living in nine camps across the border of Thailand. The current conditions include; lack of security in the area, extensive landmine infestation, poor rule of law, and an absence of even basic infrastructure and services, and any returns would not be sustainable not even with the international standards.

That Burma’s Muslims oppression which has a long history of being unrepresented in the media, has been depicted and again reappeared in the 2015 medias’ broadcasts. which provoked and brought many questions to mind; why has the media brought the issue of Burma Muslims to the surface again now? How does that impact recent Muslim regional conflicts? Is the media trying to justify any hidden agendas behind any existence of religious-based conflict in our regions? Why has such a huge issue been covered up? And what has happened to provoke this issue to rise again? Is it the fear from what those oppressed people may do as a reaction to what they have experienced? Many questions may follow but there will be only one affected side, Burma Muslims, God bless your souls.

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