By Latheef Farook –
Sri Lanka’s indifference to the ongoing genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, described as the most terrifying calamity in Asia, stinks of racist politics on a burning humanitarian issue that the world excluding Israel, India and China had condemned.
Sri Lanka and its Foreign Ministry had never failed to promptly condemn explosions and bombings in far-away Western capitals but terrorizing a half million men, women and children into fleeing their generational places of birth, closer home in our Asian neighbourhood, has not struck the conscience of good governance, the professionals, the academics, the civil society and women’s organizations in Sri Lanka.
Even as Sheikh Hasina disgracefully sought to avoid initially Bangladesh being further burdened with the Rohingyas fleeing death, rape and destruction, the Buddhists of Bangladesh came out laudably, distinguishing Buddhism from fascist- terrorism.
The Convener of Bangladesh Sammilito Boudhho Samaj, Suddhananda Maha Thero articulated the feelings of all Bangladesh Buddhists when he appealed to the Myanmar government to stop the genocide of the Rohingyas. The way Rohingyas are being subjected to torture in Buddhist majority Myanmar is completely against the teachings of Gautama Buddha, he said.
As a token of protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, the Buddhists of Bangladesh will not use sky lanterns during this year’s ‘Probarona Purnima’the second largest festival of Buddhists observed on October 5th and instead donate the funds to the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
Throughout the past month, the world vehemently condemned the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by the ruling military junta and its murderous thugs inspired by the anti-Buddhist hate speeches of Ashin Wirathu described in its cover page of TIME magazine as the “Face of Buddhist Terror”.
As if to confirm the point, a group of Buddhist extremists led by a Buddhist monk invaded a facility in Mt. Lavinia housing a group of 26 Rohingya Refugees in Sri Lanka under UNHCR care, extensively damaging the UNHCR rented building on September 26th and violently demanding their immediate expulsion from the country.
The terrorized Rohingyas, 15 adults and 11 children, were moved out to Boossa by the Police. Good governance will not arrest or prosecute the gang whose violent extremist acts, in violation of the law, led to the Rohingyas being compelled to move out to a far-away location in less safe surroundings.
With another bout of extremist violence, following the absence of arrests, the law enforcement agencies may claim that Rohingyas will be deported for ‘their own safety’ back to Myanmar, a place where they could face death.
Defense Ministry seminars must not fight shy to discuss the rising tide of violent extremism in Sri Lanka, without heeding foreign advice for hunting of grounds to blame the Rohingyas or the Sri Lankan Muslims. From day one the international media, especially the western media, integral part of US led western war machine and hostile to Islam and Muslims post 9/11 , began providing vivid details, despite strict restriction by Myanmar authorities.
In the international scene the first to condemn was Pope Francis . Indian Nobel Amartya Sen who described the atrocity in Burma on the Rohingyas as so intolerably – and so uniquely – barbaric” joined dozens of globally eminent citizens who have written an open letter to UN Security Council for intervention to end the human crisis in Rakhine.
“Though most governments and people worldwide were quick to condemn the atrocities with strongest possible terms, here in Sri Lanka, the government remains indifferent while local mainstream media has confined to a few paras in their coverage of Myanmar brutality. It is noteworthy that the media had never failed to give prominence to incidents allegedly caused by persons with Muslim names while atrocities against Muslims do not earn that level of coverage.
First to call to end violence against Rohingya Muslims was Pope Francis. Within 72 hours the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Myanmar to grant access to humanitarian agencies and expressed his deep concern at civilians being killed. Top UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein who described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya Muslims as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” pointed out that “this was predicted and could have been prevented,”
The European Rohingya Council spokeswoman Anita Schug described this as a “slow-burning genocide” and accused Myanmar’s military of being behind the deaths. Respected Buddhist leader Nobel Laureate Dalai Lama spoke out against the violence. He wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi urging her to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
“Questions that are put to me suggest that many people have difficulty reconciling what appears to be happening to Muslims there with Myanmar as a Buddhist country,” said Dalai Lama.
In a letter to Suu Kyi shortly after the latest fighting broke out Dalai Lama said “I appeal to you and your fellow leaders to reach out to all sections of society to try to restore friendly relations throughout the population in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.
Buddha would have helped the Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing violence in Buddhist-majority Burma, the Dalai Lama has said. The world’s most well-known Buddhist icon said the plight of the minority group made him “very sad”.
Later Dalai Lama had joined fellow Nobel peace laureates and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in urging Suu Kyi to intervene and speak out. Whether sincere or not US President Donald Trump wants the UN Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.
US Vice President Mike Pence accused the Myanmar military of terrible savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes”. He told the UN Security Council that “Images of violence and refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state have “shocked the American people and decent people all over the world,” “We see heartbreak and assaults on human rights and innocent civilians that’s ultimately endangering the sovereignty and security of the entire region,” Mr. Pence said during the ongoing UN General Assembly (UNGA).
Earlier US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Aung San Suu Kyi to urge the Myanmar military to facilitate humanitarian aid and confront allegations of human rights abuses. The Security Council has met twice behind closed doors since the crisis began on August 25 and last week issued an informal statement to the press condemning the situation and urging Myanmar authorities to end the violence.
On Wednesday September 20 French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC, that he would work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing,” Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya.
To date more than 480,000 members of the Muslim minority have fled Myanmar for the safety of neighboring Bangladesh. “We must condemn the ethnic purification which is under way and act,” said Macron.
Suu Kyi’s stance has disheartened human rights groups who had campaigned for her freedom during the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 15 years under house arrest by the ruling junta.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in the forefront defending Rohingya Muslims who he said are facing genocide. Indonesia promptly sent its Foreign Minister to Myanmar and urged the government to stop the violence.
However the politically castrated dictators in the Middle East, secular puppets of US and Israel, were rather quiet. Shameful state of affairs in the Muslim world is such that Saudi Arabia spent $ 120 billion to buy weapons, perhaps to kill Muslims as it is doing in Syria, Yemen and other countries ,but allocated a mere $ 15 million only on the Rohingyas.