Rights of Self-Determination for the Rohingya Muslims & the Responsibility of the Muslim Ummah
By Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
Ethnic cleansing & the only option
The ongoing massive campaign of ethnic cleansing provides little option for the Rohingya Muslims. Former Muslim majority state of Arakan –now called Rakhine, is being rapidly transformed to a Muslim-free zone. As a part of the project, 176 villages –about one-third of all villages, are made fully empty of the Muslims. The current regime has proven that they can only offer deaths, rapes, destruction and eviction and no peace or security for the Rohingya Muslims. Although the Head of the UN Human Rights Commission has described the ongoing killing and eviction as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, but they have done little to undo it. Those who are engaged in cold-blooded murder, rape, arson and eviction, no amount of moral appeal work on them. Even the Nobel Laurette Aung San Suu Kyi proved totally insensitive to such appeal. Hence, strong humanitarian appeal to stop the carnage by other Nobel Laurettes like Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Professor Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama of Tibet and many others made little impact. Rather, she looks accommodative and submissive to the wishes of the killers.
The ongoing ethnic cleansing by the Burmese supremacists gives enough testimony that they are totally incompatible with the Rohingya Muslims. The Burmese ruling elites and the Buddhist monks are not even ready to give them the survival right, let alone civic rights, human rights or citizenship of Myanmar. So far, they have offered them only one option: the option of eviction and genocide. So the people who have sense of civility and humanity, must work for a civilised option. Putting them under the rule of the Burmese supremacists is no more a thinkable option. Instead, it will add further brutality, disgrace and subjugation to the Rohimgya Muslims. The victims of the genocidal cleansing genuinely deserve the right of self-determination. They should be given the full legitimate right to decide their own fate by a plebiscite whether they want to stay as an independent political state like South Sudan and Kosovo or join Bangladesh.
Now it is very clear that mere relief goods, shelter, money, sympathy or supplication are not going to solve the problems of the Rohingya Muslims. The Palestine people were given shelter in the neighbouring countries; and they receive relief goods for more than 70 years. But such shelter, money and sympathy didn’t end the Israeli occupation. Nor did reduce the Palestinians’ misery. They still suffer the curse of occupation. Shelter, relief goods or sympathy can’t be the substitute of the independent homeland. And that can’t be achieved under the Israeli occupation. Occupation and independence can go together. The same is true with the Rohingya Muslims. They shouldn’t be asked or forced to surrender to the murderous thugs. The deep bigotry of the Burmese supremacist make them unfit to be the compatriot of the Rohingya Muslims. Therefore, the victims must be given the full opportunities to exercise the fundamental right of self-determination. Otherwise, all other efforts not only will meet failure, rather would precipitate further cruelties. Failure of a peaceful solution only gives full legitimacy of a liberation war: in fact, the Rohingya Muslims are being pushed to that route.
The ongoing killings and evictions of the Rohingya Muslims didn’t start in 2017, 2012, 1984, 1978 or 1948. These are only the recurrent exacerbations of the cleansing scheme. In fact, the cleansing process has been actively operational almost every day of every year. In 1978, the ruling military junta declared Rohingya Muslims as a defence and security threat to Myanmar and executed the eviction of 2, 80,000 people to Bangladesh. About 120,000 were evicted in a period of 2011 to 2012. In last two weeks, it could attain an unprecedented speed and ferocity. Out of 1.3 million, about 400, 000 are evicted only in last two weeks. And three thousands are killed. So, the time is quickly running out for the Rohingya Muslims. It is moving very fast to make the centuries-old historic Muslim state of Arakan a forbidden land for the Muslims.
The Qur’anic Call on deaf ears
In the past, the Muslims failed very badly to save their brothers in faith from total extinction in Spain. The same fate of the Muslims is now being repeated in Rakhine state of Myanmar. The Qur’anic command of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la is again falling on deaf ears –as was the case during the genocidal cleansing by the Christians in Spain. The same Qur’anic call as comes in the following verse still stands obligatory on every Muslim: “And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed people among men, women and the children who say, “Our Lord, take us out of the city of the oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?” –(Sura Nisa, verse 75).
Like the betrayal of the past, the above Qur’anic Call of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la stands ignored by 1.6 billion Muslims. Tearful cries of the oppressed Muslim men, women and children of Arakan could hardly raise any helpers for their cause in the Muslim World. The Organisation of Islamic Conferences (OIC) is known for paralysis since its birth. Hence, shows its old disability to do anything for them. Myanmar is a member of ASEAN block; 42 per cent population of this association of South-East Asian countries are Muslim. Indonesia -the largest Muslim country in the world is also a member of it. But, couldn’t do anything to save these innocent victims from deaths, rapes and eviction. The failure of the UNO is also huge. The seven-decade-old illegal occupation of Palestine and Kashmir tells a volume about its incompetence. Such incompetence of the world bodies -especially the cowardly inaction of the Muslims, have emboldened the Burmese supremacists to take the worst and the quickest route to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya people from their homeland. It has also increased the apprehension of the nationalist Bangladesh government that the evicted Rohingya Muslims will never be given any chance to return back. The stay of several hundred thousands of Rohingya Muslims in refugee camps in Bangladesh for more than 30 years strengthen such apprehension.
The USA, China and Russia show their total blindness to see even the crimes. India – a regional power in South Asia, has declared their total support for the Burmese war criminals. And neighbouring Bangladesh – the de-facto occupied country by the pro-Indian stooges, is known for its reluctance to take any stand against the Myanmar government. Rather, Shaikh Hasina -the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has declared her readiness to help Myanmar Army in its fight against the Rohingya Muslims’ insurgency. And very recently, her food minister was sent to Myanmar to buy rice from there. Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina knows that standing against Myanmar government means standing against her own mentors in the ruling circle of Delhi. Hence her government has shown constant reluctance to condemn the atrocities of the Myanmar Army and give shelter to these stateless victims. So, deaths, destructions, evictions and rapes continue unabated in the Muslim land. As a result, village after village, mosque after mosque, house after house are being burnt down to ashes. The Myanmar government is replicating the same brutal strategy as was executed by Israel to cleanse the native Palestinians from their homes. Like Palestinians, the Rohingya Muslims too, are not allowed to return back.
If the victims were the Christians or Jews, the situation would have been much different. The US-led coalition would have been very prompt to occupy the whole Rakhine to establish a Christian state there -as they did recently in South Sudan. In the past, the European imperialists did the same in the Balkan corridor of Osmania Khilafa. To finance such wars of the imperialists against Islam and the Muslims, the occupying despots of the holy lands of Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and many others would have been ever ready –as they show their current readiness to finance the continuous war against Islamic State and the Islamists all over the world.
Iceberg of lies
The UN Human Right Commission could correctly capture the exact situation in Myanmar. It has described the Rohingya Muslims as the “most persecuted minority” in the world. But the Nobel laureate and the de-facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi has revealed her total blindness to see even the most visible brutal persecution. For last two weeks, she showed full paralysis of her tongue, too. Therefore, she failed to condemn the worst atrocities committed of the Myanmar Army against the Rohingya Muslims. But with the recent recovery of her vocal power, she shows incredible moral cum cognitive death. As a result, she has started telling incredible lies. She blames the Muslim extremists for all the problems in Rakhine. Thus, she creates scapegoats to justify the Army’s genocidal cleansing as an appropriate response to the insurgency. She conveniently ignores the truth that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army that killed some members of the security forces wasn’t created before 2012. Whereas, the killings and evictions of the Rohingya Muslims started long ago. It began in 1948 with the independence of Burma from the British rule; and attained a massive scale in 1978, 1984 and 2012. While the Rohingya Muslims were denied the citizenship in 1982 to create a legal basis for a planned ethnic cleansing, there was no Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Moreover, the recent surge in genocidal cleansing by the Myanmar Army and the Buddhists supremacists started prior to ARSA’s attack. Myanmar has been embedded with unending ethnic conflicts for many decades; but the Rohingya Muslims didn’t take the route of armed insurgency until recently. The peaceful approach of these most persecuted people on earth has produced nothing but encouraged more deaths, rape and eviction.
On 7th September, 2017, Aung San Suu Kyi ended her 12 days’ silence to spell out a very big lie. She told in a press conference that whatever is happening in the Rakhine state has a long history with roots in the colonial past. She argued that the Myanmar government can’t solve such a complex problem in a period of few days. But the question arises, does the government possess any intention to solve the problem? Where is that visible intention of the rulers? Is it any sensible solution to deny the citizenship of the Rohingya people who lived there for centuries? The problem is not complex; rather very simple. It is the denial of legitimate citizenship of the people who are born there, and their ancestors lived there for centuries. The Burmese supremacists have taken a disastrously wrong route to maximise their own gain. In fact, apart from genocidal ethnic cleansing, the Myanmar government has shown no other intention or roadmap to solve the problem. As a part of the same smear campaign, Aung San Suu Kyi blamed the news media and social network that they have created iceberg of lies. But, the source of the iceberg appears to be otherwise. Her government is not allowing any independent reporter to enter Rakhine state. Thus, the government itself feeds the media with manufactured iceberg of lies.
Rakhine was established as an independent state in 1430 and survived more than three hundred years. The south-eastern part of Bangladesh was also a part of it; and had a good relation with the sultanate of Bengal. In medieval era, Bengali language flourished in the royal court. Even some royal family members of Delhi’s Moghul Empire took shelter in Arakan in their difficult time. It was annexed by the Burmese kingdom in 1784. In 1824, it was taken over by the British colonialists. Myanmar got independence from the British colonial rule in 1948. But its newly earned independence gave freedom only to the Burmese supremacist to pursue their genocidal agenda against the Rohingya Muslims. In fact, after the end of British occupation in 1948, the Muslim majority state of Arakan went under a new and brutal phase of occupation under the Burmese ultranationalist bigots. In 1982, not only the citizenship was snatched; the Rohingya Muslims were put under restriction vis-à-vis their movement, education, job, health care, marriage and child birth. Thus, the province of Arakan was turned into an open prison for its people.
Why ethnic cleansing in Rakhine?
The genocidal cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim is being carried with a manifest racist motive. The Burmese supremacists didn’t hide their intention that they want to create a Muslim-free Rakhine. Therefore, the question of giving them the citizenship of Myanmar has never been on the table. The geopolitical cum economic endowment of a land has never been a blessing for its defenceless people; it always invites the genocidal thugs from all over the world. This is why, the Red Indians –the original settlers in America, were almost ethnically cleansed to make space and unhindered opportunities for the European supremacists. For the same reasons, the Aborigines are almost cleansed from Australia. Now, the Rohingya Muslims are facing the same fate. They are subject to ethnic cleansing to make space for the Burmese supremacists.
Although Rakhine is the poorest state of Myanmar, its geopolitical cum economic importance is huge. It has been kept poor because of its Muslim majority population. The costal line of this beautiful fertile land is bigger than that of Bangladesh. In 2004, a huge deposit of oil and gas was discovered in its nearby sea bed. China and other countries have already been involved for the exploration. The adjoining Bay of Bengal is known for its huge fishing potential. Like Cox’s Bazar, it has a long sea beach that can offer invaluable tourist resorts. Now, the government of Myanmar is desperate to exploit its multi-dimensional economic and strategic potentials for its national interest. The Indian government also casts its greedy eyes on Rakhine; they want to build a seaport there to connect its land-locked eastern provinces. But the ethnic and religious identity of the area poses an obstacle against such strategic goal. Both India and the apartheid regime of Myanmar can’t tolerate a Muslim majority population in Rakhine. They consider such a population a huge security threat to their economic investment. The genocidal cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims thus gets its inhuman conceptual genesis.
And to justify such a genocidal cleansing, the Myanmar government desperately needed a bulk of fabricated lies. They labelled all Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from former Bangladesh. They claim that they came to Rakhine in 1971, while there was an internecine war in former East Pakistan. But the history tells otherwise. Even in 1947, the leaders of the Rohingya Muslims requested Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah –the leader of Pakistan movement to incorporate this Muslim majority state of Arakan in Pakistan. It is an historical fact. Therefore, the danger of living under the occupation of the Burmese supremacists was not unknown to the Rohingya Muslims even before the creation of independent Burma. Therefore, the question arises, if these Muslims had migrated to Rakhine in 1971, why such thought for joining Pakistan came up in 1947.
The Rohingya Muslims now face another global reality. A wolf never moves alone; it moves with its own flock. The same is true with the perpetrators of the worst crimes in any part of the world. So, the USA was not alone in its brutal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq; more than 40 NATO states were the collaborators to secure the occupation. Therefore, the killers of Myanmar are not alone either. Mr. Norendra Modi -the Prime Minister of India, started a three day visit to Myanmar on 5th September in 2017 to show India’s full solidarity with the genocidal regime. To add salt to the wound, Mr. Modi’s government announced that it will expel 40 thousand Rohingya refugees from Indian soil. The largest democratic country on earth thus stands as a torch-bearer of inhumanity and religious intolerance.
Mr. Norendro Modi himself is known for his well-accredited anti-Muslim genocidal agenda. While he was the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujrat, more than 2000 Muslims were killed in 2002. Hundreds of Muslim women were raped and thousands of shops, houses and warehouses owned by the Muslims were blazed to ashes. Some of the Muslim men, women and children were thrown into fire. Mr. Modi presided over such genocidal massacre and did nothing to stop it. His involvement in the crime was so obvious that even the USA government put a ban on Modi’s entry to the US in 2005. But such a ban couldn’t survive amidst supremacist economic cum political priorities of the US. The thin veneer of moral principle in the US policy was quickly thrown into the bin and the genocidal Modi was embraced as a friend and taken as a close partner in the ongoing war against Islam and the Islamists. Even now, the Indian Army under Modi’s stewardship, is running a killing mission in Kashmir. In fact, Arakan is now Myanmar’s Kashmir. So India presents the perfect political and ideological match with the genocidal regime of Myanmar.
Arakan: a test ground for faith
Now it is the time that those who have real concern for the victims of the worst atrocities in Myanmar must show their moral guts and solidarity. Otherwise, the regime will fulfil their genocidal objective. They must do something just now. In the past, the forces of evil could achieve huge victory only because of the cowardly inaction of the people who claim to be good. This indeed shows the real disease of a society. Inaction in the face of such ethnic cleansing is indeed an act of collaboration to the crime. Now, the Muslim ummah is engaged in such crime. Humanity, morality and higher values only survive if the people show their moral courage to stand for it. In fact, the fate of a nation is not decided in booming farms, factories or universities, but in the fight against the evil. The USA has a lot of such farms, factories or universities, but the country is now occupied by a well accredited crook called Donald Trump and his cronies. The situation in India, Russia and many other countries are not different either.
Because of an incessant fight against the evil, the finest civilisation on earth could rise in the tiny city of Medina, and not in Rome, Greece, Persia or China. The land of Rakhine is bigger than Medina and presents as a similar combat zone between good and evil. Hence, can offer similar opportunities. A believer’s iman is truly tasted in such places. In Islam, standing for the truth and fighting for the oppressed is indeed a great ibadah. In fact, the greatest ibadah in Islam is not done in any mosque or on a prayer mat. It takes place in the battle field against the evil forces. Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la selects His best heroes from there. Such production sites of heroes –the fields of jihad, indeed decide the destiny of Muslim ummah. Otherwise, they definitely goes downhill –as is the case of the ummah today. In absence of such heroes, humanity, morality, Divine truth and law perish from the surface of earth and the criminals and their satanic lies overwhelm.
Standing against the evil forces is indeed standing for Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la and His revealed Truth. And such standing for Allah Sub’hana is so crucial that it is obligatory on every Muslim. It is revealed in the holy Qur’an: “Say (O Muhammad)! (O people) I advise you only on one thing, that you stand for Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la, in pairs or alone.” -(Sura Saba, verse 46). The above Qur’anic command played such a pivotal role in the early Muslims’ life that because of standing for Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la, more than seventy percent of the companions became shaheed. As per above verse, if one fails to find a partner in his fight, should stand alone. Now the situation is dire. The evil forces are showing their ugly faces against the innocent Rohingya Muslims. They are taking their land, lives and chastity. They are destroying their homes, assets and villages. Mosques are being burnt to ashes. They could dare commit such crimes because the army of evil is huge and none is there to challenge those criminals. It is a failure as well as a shame for the whole mankind. But, what is the role of the people who believe in Allah Sub’hana Ta’la? Believing in Him means standing for Him. But where are the Muslims to play such role against evil? Such a role indeed defines a man whether he is a part of the evil or fighter for the Cause of Allah Sub’hana Ta’la. That indeed decides the success in the hereafter, too.