Sunday, 7 April 2013
Burma's Burning Issues - "Hidden Genocide: The Rohingya of Burma"
This is the 2nd article about The Best Friend Library’s event “Burma’s Burning Issues” which was held on March 28th at the Documentary Arts Asia, Chiang Mai. I’ve been a bit slow to write this because I wanted to make sure I knew how I felt. My research and my thinking have led me realize that this will be a gap filler; a more in-depth piece is being prepared. Trying to understand the situation in Burma is like trying to peel this magic onion. Peel off one thin layer and two more layers grow, likely undetected , deep within!
The Al Jazeera documentary “Hidden Genocide: The Rohingya of Burma” was the 2nd film shown that evening. I would hasten to comment that Al Jazeera is a most credible network, their reporting has, in the eyes of many, elevated them in status to the leading network in the free world. A couple of years ago a colleague commented that most of the really talented people have left the BBC and now work for Al Jazeera. They are a privately held network which is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Obviously they are pro Muslim.
I invite you to watch the documentary and then draw your own opinions.
In my view the documentary largely paints the situation as Buddhist against Muslim. Perhaps it’s really the Burmese junta against the Muslims. In the Al Jazeera documentary Inside Story: “Why is the World Ignoring Myanmar’s Rohingya?” it was pointed out that Thein Sein, President of Myanmar said “We will take responsibility for ethnic nationalities but it is not at all possible to recognize the illegal border-crossing Rohingays who are not of our ethenicity.” The historical truth is that the Rohingya have been in Western Burma for centuries.
Is it possible that a large portion of the current situation in the Rakhine (also known as Arakane) state was actually instigated by the government who should be protecting them? There are Burmese intelligence units who have been known to do all sorts of treacherous things including committing acts of violence while disguised as Buddhist monks. It is well reported now that in some instances government forces have joined in the violence against the Rohingya. In other cases they have observed the violence and done nothing to prevent it from spreading.
The Rohingya people have been described as among the world's least wanted and most persecuted minoritiies. In 1982 Burma enacted a citizenship law which denies the Rohingya citizenship. They are requred to sign a commitment to have no more than two children. The Rohingya are banned from owning land, often the land of their ancestors, and they are not even allowed to travel without official permission.
One question that needs to be asked: Why does the international community tolerate this situation? Is there a connection between inaction on the part of the United Nations and the desire of certain western governments to participate in the plunder of Burma's natural resources? Is it magic or is it just old fashioned greed coupled with a gross lack of respect for human life?