The Rohingya are being forced to flee their homes as a result of racial segregation and discrimination
Nur Jahan, age 85, fled Kuinnyapara village in Myanmar and was forced to find refuge in Bangladesh after witnessing several violent attacks on her village from the Myanmar army. Her son, Abdullah, was killed by the soldiers at age 28. She has seven other children but is unaware of their whereabouts. "I have left everything to Allah and want to take my last breath without a fear of being attacked," Jahan said. The Rohingya crisis may be a recognizable situation, often seen in the news, read in an article, or overheard from an organization, but these stories hide the untold magnitude of vulnerability and danger these people are really facing.
"The Rohingya" refer to the Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine State, made up of approximately one million people. The brutal military force in Myanmar is attacking Rohingya communities, all due to a dehumanising system of state-sponsored discrimination and racial segregation against the minority Muslims. This resulted in a massive outbreak of violence and a long standing and catastrophic refugee crisis: almost 300,000 Rohingya Refugees have fled to Bangladesh. Myanmar refuses to consider the Rohingya as citizens, or one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups in the country, making this group one of the largest persecuted minorities in the world. The thousands of refugees arriving in Bangladesh everyday - most of whom are women and children - are often traumatized, some coming with severe injuries caused by gunshots, shrapnel, fire and landmines.
The first step to addressing the Rohingya crisis is to not to sugarcoat what is really happening. This catastrophic phenomena against the Rohingya is a genocide, the deliberate killing of a large group of people, which in this situation is the Muslims. It is not an "ethnic cleansing," which the US government would like to call it. These two concepts may seem to have the same meaning, but the hidden meaning behind these labels is dramatically different. Using the term ethnic cleansing is a way to decrease international pressure and give the perception of a smaller scale issue. We need to address the issue as it is, a genocide, one of the largest persecutions in history. It is in no way a small scale issue, and acting like it is only avoids the problem and doesn't provide enough aid to the refugees.
As discussed at the program at MCC, Muslims in America need to take a lead, and help the refugees from one Islamic community to another. They need to educate themselves and all their neighbors, so all allies can unite and help improve the catastrophic situation of the Rohingya. "You can't play a selective advocacy, a Muslim is a Muslim no matter what, and it just troubles my heart that we have a so-called Islamic country complicit in this, and no one is saying anything," Ali said. We cannot stay silent in this period of crisis. We need to let people know that the lives of Rohingya matter too.
Mahnaz Habib. Hi! I'm Mahnaz and am a staff writer. I love to hang out with friends, read, and watch Stranger Things. I also dance and play the violin. More »