The surge in atrocities being committed on the Rohingya Muslim community, widely considered to be the world’s most persecuted minority, has caused global online outrage, condemnation and calls for immediate political resolutions.
Who are the Rohingya?
The Rohingya community is an indigenous minority of 1.1 Million Muslims that reside in the North Western Burmese state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh.
Historical analysis has shown that Rohingya Muslim families can trace their heritage in Burma back to the eight century yet despite this, neither Burma not Muslim majority Bangladesh have afforded them with citizenship, access to basic provisions or upheld their basic human rights.
Given this reality of their situation, the Rohingya community have been subjected to increasing state led persecution resulting in mass displacement, horrendous abuse and widespread death.
Understanding the Situation
Increasingly over the last few years, the Rohingya Muslim community have been the victims of an atrocious abuse of power from both the Burmese military and extremist Buddhist militias, who under the pretense of combatting terrorism, have indiscriminately laid waste to villages, forced people from their homes, subjected women to rape and abuse and massacred tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.
In the last two weeks alone, a surge in the violence and abuse towards the Rohingya has seen over 150,000 people forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries with a further 400,000 people still trapped inside conflict zones as the Burmese military continue to advance with their ‘clearance operations’ that seems nothing short of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The survivors and refugees that have managed to make it safely to refuge in Bangladesh have spoken out about the horrors they witnessed, stating that military personnel were actively engaged in massacres and arson attacks. Some of the most vile witness testimony spoke of the beheading of children and people being burned alive.
Although the Rohingya have been the victim of such abuse for over a decade, this most recent increase in violence and mass displacement of people has caused widespread global outcry from world leaders, NGOs and human rights groups demanding immediate action be taken to bring about a respite for those affected.
Some of the most vocal criticism has been directed to Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize winning head of States, Aung San Suu Kyi, for her silence and seeming indifference towards the mass persecution of her fellow country people. Some of the most ardent of her critics have called for her Peace Prize to be revoked.
Lending their voice in abundance to the global community outrage and condemnation towards the horrific plight of the Rohingya have been faith leaders from different major world religions. Given that the victims of the atrocities are Muslim and those committing the atrocities are Buddhist, the role religion plays in the conflict has become central to the conversation. With the emphasis that all major religions play on speaking out against injustice and standing with the oppressed, we have seen different major faith leaders speak out.
Pope Francis has publically called for an international response to the Rohingya crisis which must prioritise humanitarian assistance and aid to the Rohingya people.
Senior Islamic world leaders and religious scholars have also been at the forefront of openly condemning the actions of the Burmese state with the Turkish President accusing Burma of genocide and calling on the international community to come together and organise an effective response to help rapidly de-escalate the violence and provide much needed immediate aid to those affected.
Senior Islamic religious scholars and Imams have also been actively advocating for a resolution and have called on their communities to support aid causes and politically lobby their local representatives to discuss the situation in parliaments.
On his Facebook page, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi wrote,
“And even as we lament what others are not doing, let us do whatever we can to help out. Make dua for them, be conscious of their plight, help out charities that are helping them, and spread awareness of their cause.”
What Can You Do to Help?
One of the biggest grievances for the general public looking on and being horrified at what they are seeing in Burma is a feeling of helplessness and confusion around what they can actively do to help. The following are some of the things that you can to do help the Rohingya Muslims:
- Raise Awareness – It may seem like the most obvious thing to do, but one of the most important actions a person can take is to constantly raise awareness and publically speak out against atrocity and abuse. Use your social media to highlight the plight of the Rohingya and raise awareness of humanitarian efforts working to bring about an end to the violence.
- Political Activism – Use the political avenues at your disposal to actively lobby your local MPs and representatives. Use these channels of communications to sign petitions, attend peaceful demonstrations and send emails that make your local representatives aware of the situation and encourage them to bring it up in parliament and political discussions to help initiate a coordinate political effort to help.
- Donate to Charity – There are a number of relief agencies and NGOs working tirelessly on the ground, in very hard to reach areas, delivering aid and humanitarian assistance to some of the most critically affected people of the crisis. Donating to these causes can have a significant ‘on the ground’ impact. Always be sure to do your due diligence before you donate by ensuring that your money is going to a reputable organisation providing real support. Some of the main organisations working in this field include: Burma Campaign UK, Red Cross and Red Crescent, Islamic Relief and UNHCR. You can always refer to the Charity Commission‘s website to find out information about a relief agency.
- Making Dua – We can never underestimate the power of prayer. It is important that we continue to keep the Rohingya in our duas as we pray that Allah eases their suffering and brings them peace and sanctuary in their lives.