Muslims as Minorities in the East

Is 2009 too far? Have you forgotten about the clashes that erupted between Chinese Han and Uighur — two of the 55 ethnic minorities, leaving several hundreds dead and thousand others injured? In July 2012, the London-based human rights group Amnesty International said that three years on from the Urumqi riots, the Chinese authorities were continuing “to silence those speaking out on abuses” in Xinjiang. After three years inside the bloody incidents in Buddhist majority China, also a home to 200 million Muslims, it all began in Myanmar. Muslims particularly Rohingyas started facing discrimination, summary trial, rape, deprivation of rights to own their ancestral land, giving birth to baby and total ethnic cleansing. Rohingyas, mostly poor villagers of Sittwe having almost no access to education, treatment are deprived of most of the civic amenities as Islam is their religion and speak Bangla. Even they are not allowed to gravitate to cities for work. Replicating those racial tensions in China and Myanmar Muslim bashing started in Sri Lanka though slowly inside four years after the civil war which left several thousand Muslims dead for the unified Lanka. At the hands of LTTE many were killed and over one lakh displaced from the north. LTTE leader Villupillai Provakaran in 2002 acknowledged that extradition and ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Tamil-dominated north was a mistake. The less said of Muslim-bashing in southernmost Thailand and Mindanao of Philippines the better.
Among these countries situation in Myanmar is the gravest as the ‘state hands’ were reportedly the Muslim-bashing. The recent spate of clash in Rakhaine as well as in the central states left several hundred dead and 1300 houses were razed to the ground, displacing thousands others. Probably the fishes of the Bay of Bengal and other waters went very happy because of the dead Rohingyas while fleeing on boat to the destinations like Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. Human rights watchdogs find the deliberate inertia of the Myanmar police and demand probe into the ethnic cleansing though a small number of Buddhists were affected.
Human right is such a term which is not applicable to the Muslims in Myanmar. The former junta apparently turned into an ethnic-cleansing rogue ruler. National League for Democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi, like many other capitalists, has no strong say about the minority persecution in Myanmar. As a populist and an apparent capitalist she didn’t want to hurt the sentiment and Buddhist nationalist voters back at home. But she should know that once she was a political minority for raising voice against junta govt and the Swedish Nobel Academy had awarded her Nobel Peace Prize without any vision. There is food for thought for Suu Kyi whose father promised to solve the problems of the Muslims of the country.
Ethnic minorities in Bangladesh who look like those of Bamars or Mongoloids with their snub nose amount to 8 lakh. Coincidentally the ethnic minorities in Myanmar who look like those of Bangladeshis with their dark complexion and sharp nose amount to 8 lakh. The United Nations claims ethnic minorities in Myanmar to be the most persecuted minorities in the world not the Bangladeshi ethnic minorities (Magh, Chakma, Murang and others). Here in Bangladesh tribal people don’t have to struggle against striking out their status as ethnic minorities but the Rohingyas have to. Chittagong Hill Tract minorities are trying to get the indigenous priority which Bomang Raja Aung Shu Pro Chowdhury said they were not indigenous people in CHT. They threaten struggle against the majorities in Bangladesh as they enjoy different quota in education, job and other sectors. Rather they had been living here since 17th century whereas Rohingyas have been living in Arakan state of Myanmar for centuries in impoverished state. Even 1982 citizen law deprived them of citizenship. If expulsion of minorities go on in the countries all over the world there will be countries left based only on religions. All the Christians will migrate to predominantly Christian countries and 160 crore (23pc) Muslims only to 57 Muslim countries and in this way Hindus to India and Nepal. But Jews will have left only to migrate to Israel when Buddhists to China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand Myanmar and other predominantly Buddhist countries. If new polarization on the basis of religious beliefs takes place with such massive migration what will happen to other religions — (Shikh Jaina, Shintu and hundreds of minorities — than four major religions (Buddhist, Christians, Muslims and Hindus). Where will the minor religions migrate to live in because they have no country to call their own? They will have no state and thus they won’t exist?
In the wake latest spate of killing in Rakhaine state at long last OIC, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have come up to call the killing massacre of Rohingyas. Human Rights Watch issued statement saying that Myanmar forces join the Rakhaine Buddhist radicals to kill, torture, intimidate, use excessive force on the ethnic minority Rohingya to leave their motherland.
In Thailand, another ASEAN nation on Myanmar border, more than 5,500 people have been killed in continual violence in Muslim-dominated three southernmost provinces. The country is 1,291.6 km away from Myanmar. In fact the first killing of Muslims started in 2004. The militants have mainly targeted security forces and teachers, who represent the government in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat which are largely populated by Malay-speaking Muslims. The Muslim sultanate was annexed with faraway Bangkok in the beginning of the 20th century. Muslims have long complained of discrimination by the central government, and the insurgents are thought to be fighting for autonomy. But the insurgency remains murky, with Barisan Revolusi Nasional making no public pronouncements on their goals. Conspicuously the per capita income in Thailand is much lower than those of Malaysia which is on the border of Thai Muslim-dominated provinces where people complain of discrimination. So naturally insurgency takes deep roots among the deprived Thai Muslims who want living conditions better than those of Thailand.
At a distance of 2,215 kilometers there is another trouble spot, Mindanao in Philippines, where Muslim-bashing goes on now and then. These refugees eventually stretched Sabah’s social welfare capacity and led many Sabahans to hold them and their descendants with contempt as a burden and a security threat to the state. Kuala Lumpur’s attempt to change the demographic balance of Sabah by increasing its Muslim population and provide citizenship to Filipino and Indonesian Muslim immigrants also created some resentment between native non-Muslim Sabahans and later arrivals.
Malaysia’s reaction to the Lahad Datu standoff had been criticized by many human rights groups. While the original target was a group of only about 200 people, of which only about two dozen or so were armed, the Malaysian response crystallized in Operation Daulat. This operation was seen as excessive – a combined land, air and sea assault and deployment of several regular army battalions. While there is much pressure to come up with a strong response in the run-up to what many see as very close electoral contest, the Malaysian government should also weigh the reaction of local Sabahans, the Philippine government, not to mention the international community.
Refugees arriving in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga spoke of abuses and human rights violations committed by Malaysian security forces in the course of their mopping up operations and rooting out alleged supporters of the Royal Sulu Army. Beatings, harassment, intimidation and threats were heard from traumatized Tausugs and Sama-Bajaus fleeing Sabah. If proper measures will not be put in place, Malaysian plans to relocate Sabah coastal villagers allegedly “prone” to infiltration may also be susceptible to the same abuses, such as forced eviction and forced resettlement.
In addition, Manila’s request for humanitarian missions and access to Filipinos caught in the conflict, including both suspected RSA members, supporters and innocent civilians, are still denied. Moreover, it is very difficult to obtain reliable reports on the ground since independent press were denied entry.
While Kuala Lumpur’s actions may address the immediate security risks posed by the few supporters of the Sulu Sultan, it may spur long-term negative backlash. The most immediate are grievances against Malaysia’s role in the GPH-MILF peace process, a role contested by some at the onset but did not get much attention until after the Lahad Datu standoff. The Philippine government maintained that the recent Sabah conundrum will not affect the peace process, but considering the sentiments of those who felt left out in the process and the refugees arriving from Sabah, the upcoming referendum test for the Kuala Lumpur-brokered peace framework will prove difficult.
Malaysia’s tainted image in the Mindanao peace process may also not sit well with its present role in ending the decades-old Muslim Malay insurgency in southern Thailand.
Finally, far from letting the dormant Philippine Sabah claim sleep another deep slumber, the recent Sabah issue will only add more pressure on Manila to take a more vigorous stance, not only in reviving, but more so in pursuing the claim through various legal and diplomatic means.
Interference in the affairs of other countries has its merits. But one should be prepared for its consequences. Will recent events compel Kuala Lumpur to rethink its Mindanao strategy? Whatever contours or features this new stratagem may have, let us all hope that it will bring lasting peace to Sulu and Mindanao and a just settlement of the never-ending Sabah issue.
As the ‘minority’ issue is very a sensitive and thought-provoking so it is cashed and politicized particularly in developing countries. The ‘minority card’ is cashed by many local as well as the international communities. In the first place the word ‘minority’ suggests a feeling, an idea of small religious groups apart from its main meaning. According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary minority means ‘the smaller part of a group; less than half of the people or things in a large group’. Quite opposite of that is the term ‘majority’ which denotes ‘the largest part of a group of people or things’. Those who speak or work or go against the majority are minorities irrespective of their cast, creed and society.
But the term has got many other dimensions, denotations and connotations. The section of people who protest and demonstrate against any injustice, disparity, unjust distribution of world wealth, plundering of the poor can be termed as minority. Those who speak the truth is the real minority in an office, family, and in the state. A truthful minority essentially should have friends. But virtually on earth only a truthful befriends a truthful, an outspoken befriends an outspoken and an opportunist befriends an opportunist. Majority of the people are never outspoken. In the face of torture, intimidation and all sorts of human rights abuse the minorities migrate from the countries of their own to other. They become homeless, jobless and a small part of the uncompromising and poor minorities eventually turn into gypsies — Bedey, Roma, etc. These dissents look for political asylum, immigration in third country to escape arrest, jail, majority wrath, punishment back at home country.
For supporting the cause of united Sri Lanka for long 26 years civil war Muslims restarted to suffer Muslim-bashing. As many as The tension gradually mounted high centering the halal certification for the shops who want to sell goods to Muslim consumers. The Sri Lankan grocers who don’t want to sell produces to Muslims need no certificates. The troubles centering the halal certificates issued by All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, have caused intense feelings of insecurity among the Muslims.

However for all sorts of bashing a society needs to familiarize the terms like fundamentalist, jihadist, militant, anti-Semitic, anti-Indian etc with the society, people and the world first. A media campaign including television, radio, print media and also online are operated until the suppressing or gagging looks positive. Such a media campaign was launched against Iraq and its Saddam regime. After long ten years of embargo and media propaganda against the country having weapons of mass destruction and getting nod from media mogul Rupert Murdoch the US-led invasion started in 2001. The same media campaign war is going on against Iran of preparing for nuclear weapon. It doesn’t need much intellect and effort to understand how the US and Israel are planning to destroy the country. Muslims, in the predominantly Buddhist countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, China and also Sri Lanka in the present case, face misinformation, maligning, giving bad names and all sorts of discriminations. If they react or protest against all sorts of misinformation, maligning, giving bad names and discriminations in jobs, religious, personal, social rights, then they are antagonized and demonized and thus kill them in the name of security, peace, democracy, etc. So the policy of ‘marginalize, malign then murder’ is implemented.


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