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Rohingya Muslims and liberals

Published Jul 24, 2012 02:59am

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MORE than 20,000 Muslims have been decimated and displaced by the extremist Buddhists in Myanmar. It is also one of the most appalling arsenals in recent times.

The world’s liberal conscience and human rights groups went vitriolic when the Taliban gutted down Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. No one can either defend what the Taliban did. But I want to ask a simple question from Pakistan’s so-called liberal and pro-western sections of society: where is there liberal conscience now?

The NGOs and private sector human rights organisations, which anchor themselves on European liberalism and financial grants, went berserk on the Kohistan girls killings which turned out to be a canard. When Muslims reacted violently, and wrongly, against the caricatures published in liberal Scandinavia, and when Facebook was temporarily blocked, the liberals of Pakistan went out of their dens to tear apart the orthodox and fundamentalist elements.

I wonder why the liberals’ conscience remains sleeping when Muslims are subject to torture and genocide. Even Pakistan’s public and social media’s response is very lackadaisical.

RIZWAN AKHTAR United Kingdom

Persecution

IT was painful to read the report, ‘Myanmar conflict spurs hatred for Asia’s outcasts’, by Todd Pitma (June 15). This is in the backdrop of recent ethnic clashes between the Rohingya Muslims and Burmese Buddhists after a mob lynched 10 Muslims in apparent retaliation for the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, allegedly by Muslims.

Asia’s more than one million ethnic Rohingya Muslims are considered by rights groups to be among the most persecuted people on the earth. “In Burma they’re told they’re illegals who should go back to Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, they’re told they’re Burmese who should go back home.

They have been persecuted for decades, and it’s only getting worse,” according to Chris Lewa, a rights worker. Some say they are descended from 7th century Arab settlers and that their state was conquered by the Burmese in 1784.

Recently, Bangladeshi coast guards turned back many boatloads of terrified Rohingya refugees trying to flee the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and even shot some of them.

Rohingya’s must get government permission to travel outside their own villages and even to marry. They are also barred from having more than two children.

In 1978, Myanmar’s army drove over 200,000 Rohingya’s into Bangladesh. Some 10,000 died in squalid conditions and the rest returned to Myanmar. The campaign was repeated in 1991-92, and again a majority returned.

In 2009, five boatloads of haggard Rohingya migrants fleeing Myanmar were intercepted by Thai authorities. They were reportedly detained and beaten, then forced back to sea, emaciated and bloodied, in vessels with no engines and little food or water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned.

The same year, Myanmar’s consul general in Hong Kong — now a UN ambassador — described the Rohingyas as ‘ugly as ogres’ in an open letter to diplomats!

Obviously, there’s extreme hostility against these people. Besides other Asian countries, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have made it to Pakistan. There’s Burma Colony in Karachi where a large number of them live peacefully. The UN and OIC must take notice of the longstanding persecution of these unfortunate folks. The attention of our Myanmar friends is drawn to a wise teaching of Gautama Buddha. “Hatreds never cease by hate, but by love alone; this is an eternal truth.” To their UN ambassador, the words of the Buddhist teacher Josei Toda may be instructive: “We don’t love others when we find them beautiful, we find others beautiful when we love them.”

K. CHAUDHRY Karachi

UN and humanity

MORE than 20,000 Muslims have been killed in Myanmar by police, army and Buddhist extremists. Is this just and humanity?

Now I would like to ask the United Nations and human rights organisations, where are they? It is time the OIC took appropriate action to stop this violence and helped Muslims in Myanmar.

AZKA SHAFI Karachi

Human rights

Rohingya people in Myanmar have been burnt in their villages and had to take refuge in the jungle. They have been turned away from where they might find sanctuary, while almost 90,000 have been forced out of their homes.The United Nations and humanitarian organisations must take notice of this bloodshed and the Security Council must probe into Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.

SHAHZAIB A. K. YUSUFZAI Karachi