Within our contemporary world of intermittent terror attacks and acts of violence, some conflicts remain constant. As we scroll down our social media feeds, we are met with the inescapable reality of the ongoing situation in Myanmar. Widely considered to be the most persecuted minority in the world, we hear of the violence, abuse and inhumane conditions of the Rohingya Muslim community in Burma and worse, of the international community’s silence.
We see the persecution of the Rohingya emulating the acts of the Rwandan genocide and the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia Herzegovina just over 20 years ago. We, as the international community, vowed we would never let this happen again, yet here we are.
Many of us, however, are unaware of the scale and longevity of the Rohingya crisis. The persecution they have faced dates back decades. The denial of their right to citizenship as indigenous peoples, dates back centuries. The plight of the Rohingyas is a multifaceted one, spanning across generations that subsequently suffer from transgressions and violations of their human rights.
An insight and critical analysis of the Rohingya crisis is one that suffers from academic deficiency. The role of academics in steering both national and global policy is paramount, as their research provides a platform for critical understanding and insight into possible solutions. Without academic analysis, fathoming crises remains subjective; a real obstacle when attempting to logically tackle humanitarian crises.
Within this context then, Dr Azeem Ibrahim’s most recently authored work, ‘The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide‘ comes as a welcome departure from ignorant, politically manipulated rhetoric on the situation for the Rohingya community. Dr. Ibrahim, a highly respected and valued academic in the global policy domain, reaffirms that the need for an academic perspective on such a long standing and truly horrific humanitarian crisis is long overdue.
In a foreword to the book, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus said,
“The rejection of citizenship rights for Rohingyas, denial of freedom of movement, eviction campaigns, violence against Rohingya women, forced labour, expulsion from their lands and property, violence and torture have made Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingyas the most persecuted minority in the world. I humbly add my voice to the simple demand of the Rohingya people: that their rights as our fellow human beings be respected, that they be granted the right to live peacefully and without fear in the land of their parents, and without persecution on grounds of their ethnicity or their form or worship.”
What Dr. Ibrahim provides is not simply an academic analysis of the Rohnigya crisis, but an in depth historical account, present day insight and pathways toward sustainable solutions. His acknowledgement of the Rohingya as a population indigenous the Rakhine State verifies the falsity of claims that they are illegal immigrants.
His understanding of genocide has been met with criticism as the parameters that identify genocide are disputed in legal and political domains. As the acts of ethnic cleansing and violence toward the Rohingyas arguably amount to that of genocide, his claim of ‘hidden genocide’ does not appear as overly speculative, as many have contended.
“Myanmar now stands on the edge of genocide. The Rohingyas have nothing left, most live in internal refugee camps and they are denied basic health care and the ability to work. Due to these deliberate pressures they look to flee; and many in the regime, of the regional Rakhine establishment and among the Buddhist extremists are keen to encourage them to do so – so keen that the use of violence to trigger a final exodus cannot be ruled out. This is genocide: it is the deliberate destruction of an identified ethnic group. International indifference only encourages the regime to believe it can get away with it.” – The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide, p. 16, footnotes omitted.
Due to the British colonial history of this region, the international community has placed much emphasis on British aid and resolution. Dr.Ibrahim’s solution driven conclusions offer real time resolutions, though there is justifiable doubt that the already disdainful Myanmar government will pay them any consideration.
Nonetheless, Dr. Ibrahim’s book supports the call to end the injustices faced by the Rohingya. Rather than a politically fuelled narrative, Dr. Ibrahim offers an inclusive narrative based on historic, actual, strategic and legal accounts. For anyone that endeavors to better understand the Rohingya crisis, this book provides an thoroughly researched foundational insight into the issue and is a must read for anyone looking to honestly engage with and understand the reality of the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim community.
About the Author
Azeem Ibrahim, BSc. MSc (Econ). MBA. MPhil. FRSA. FRGS. PhD. The son of a grocer, he grew up one of six children in a council house in Glasgow, Scotland. Just in his 40s, he is a self-made multi-millionaire, who founded his own private foundation, the Ibrahim Foundation, which funds innovative community projects around the globe. Dr. Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy, and Adjunct Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and has previously been appointed an International Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a World Fellow at Yale University. Outside academia, Dr Ibrahim has been a reservist in the IV Battalion Parachute Regiment (UK’s elite airborne infantry reserve) and a multi-award winning entrepreneur. He was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank in 2010 and named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.