There is a huge thick curtain that keeps the ongoing anti-Muslim genocidal campaign in Myanmar hidden from the world.
As to what is going on behind this curtain not much is known, as much for the distraction caused by the presence in there of the so-called symbol of peace Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as for the neighbouring countries’ preference for politics over human rights. But that may no more be possible because the curtain has now developed some chinks, allowing some disturbing peeps through it.
Officials from two separate UN agencies have met the victims, some inside the country and others in Bangladesh, and having firsthand accounts of genocidal drive concluded that no less than a thousand Rohingya Muslims were murdered in Myanmar army’s latest crackdown. The report submitted by them says the Myanmar security forces slaughtered and raped hundreds of men, women and children in a “campaign of terror”. But outside world, they say, “hasn’t grasped the severity of the crisis unfolding in Myanmar’s Rakhine state”. In fact, the world is yet to reject the army’s claim that no more than 100 were killed in ‘counterinsurgency operation against Rohingya militants’. Rohingyas have already been deprived of their citizenship, kicked out of government jobs, sidelined in businesses and more or less confined to ghettos.
But since October last year when there were attacks on three border guard posts, which were touted by the authorities as proof of Rohingya Muslims having links with international terrorist outfits, the military establishment is set about genociding the Muslim minority. This is not an anti-terrorist campaign but a deliberate plan to throw Muslims out of Myanmar.
What is going on in Myanmar is its military campaign to cleanse the country of its Muslim population who has lived there for generations, sometimes even as its rulers – a truth authenticated by no less a person than Pope Francis. To him, the Rohingyas are “suffering and being tortured simply because they uphold their Muslim faith”. In fact that kind of frank, unvarnished comment has yet to come from any of the top leaders of Muslim countries – their hesitation perhaps prompted as much by their lack of awareness as by their economic interests.
The OIC met late last year and promised to take up the issue of Rohingyas at various world forums, but excepting Malaysia none of its members did anything concrete. In Myanmar, another Rwanda is being enacted. What we know so far about this tragedy is, as some say, “a tip of the iceberg”. Prompt action is warranted on three fronts. First and foremost, the UN Security Council must take up the reports of its agencies and seek an immediate halt to this carnage.
Secondly, the regional countries, particularly in the framework of the ASEAN, must weigh in with Myanmar to check the genocidal campaign against a minority. Given they too have religious and ethnic minorities they also run the risk of igniting such genocidal flare-ups. Thirdly, The OIC members, some of which enjoy close cooperative relationships with Myanmar, must revisit their bilateralism and condition it with just and fair treatment of Rohingya Muslims. And all this should happen now – tomorrow may be too late.