The tragedy of the Rohingya Muslims, whose Myanmar citizenships were revoked through a law adopted in 1982, went largely unnoticed at the time. On top of being deprived of their citizenship rights and thus considered refugees in their own country, unable to work, go to school and benefit from healthcare and social security services, the Rohingya Muslims were also subjected to an extensive genocide. It was a terrible tragedy; Rohingyas would be exiled from their homes, the refugee camps where they resided would be burned down, and murders and the oppression would see no end.
This obscure tragedy finally came to the fore with the maritime disasters that struck the Rohingyas who had been forced to leave their homeland. Muslims on battered boats would fall martyr due to starvation or disease; some who survived the trip would fall into the clutches of human traffickers in the country of their destination; some boats would sink before they could see the land. When the public attention of the world was drawn to this persecution, many good Muslims had already fallen martyr.
Today, the whole world is aware of the ethnic and religious genocide the Rohingya Muslims face. Human rights organizations have prepared countless reports on the issue, with so many reports that the United Nations used the words, “the world’s most persecuted people” to define the Rohingya Muslims. However, all these fail to put an end to the ongoing oppression in Myanmar. The ethnic genocide may no longer be clandestine, yet it still continues unabated in the most violent manner before the very eyes of the entire world.
Having seen an increase on September 9, 2016, acts of violence against Muslims were reported based on the testimonies of 220 eyewitnesses who had been forced to flee to Bangladesh. According to the reports of the eyewitnesses, Muslims are still facing incidents of massacres, disappearances, rape and plunder. It also stated in the report that teachers, religious scholars, community leaders and persons of respect are specifically chosen, and that among those who suffer rape and sexual violence, there are also children, some of whom lost their lives.
The number of Rohingyas who had to leave their country since September 9th is reported to be 92,000.
The closest country where Rohingyas who were forced to leave their country behind can take refuge is Bangladesh. However, the decision that has recently been taken by the Bangladesh Foreign Affairs that aims to send the Rohingya Muslims who came to the country as asylum-seekers to Thengar Char Island, located in the Bay of Bengal and only accessible by boat, is a current matter of debate. Not to mention the fact that, due to flood tides, the region remains underwater for a large part of the year, and turns into a swampland once the tide ebbs. The island does not offer any living space, nor does it have any facilities such as housing, school or hospital.
The directive by the Bangladesh Council of Ministers instructed the authorities to “stop Myanmar citizens from entering the country.” The instructions also stated “all refugees are to be resettled in predetermined locations within the country and all necessary precautions are to be taken to keep them there in order to prevent those who already reside in the country from mixing with the local population.” The justification for the plan in question as argued by the directive is that the Rohingya population, which has lately seen a gradual increase, poses “physical risks” for the locals and causes social and economic problems.
This grave directive evinces the fact that Rohingya Muslims are seen as troublesome, risk-bearing people even in the regions to which they have fled. What is even graver is placing these people on an island of death, which remains underwater for a large part of the year and turns into a swampland at other times. They are virtually treated as non-humans, and are subjected to ethnic slaughter in the country they have taken refuge. The fact that, instead of being protected, these people who have escaped from persecution are considered a threat and even left for dead reveals the latest extent of cruelty in the world.
The Islamic moral values necessitate that a Muslim must even risk his life to protect a person who seeks refuge with him. No matter the circumstances, it is a Muslim’s duty to safeguard the person who needs protection, even if that person is an unbeliever. Moreover, what is in question here is a Muslim looking out for another Muslim. This is both a conscientious and a humane obligation; a duty that must be performed.
However, since the world built upon a materialistic foundation is ruled by a perverted ideology, ‘the survival of the fittest’, oppressive practices have begun to be carried out on a state basis. The refugees who need protection are considered redundant, while their rights to live are disregarded purely because of their helplessness. This is a tragic consequence rendered common around the world by the materialist lifestyle. The objections to this matter are not even taken into consideration anymore, and are regarded as trivial. As people move away from love, the already grave picture becomes even graver, while a solution becomes ever more distant.
A solution to this problem is possible by following two methods, one being temporary and the other permanent. The first is United Nations’ power of sanction over the countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh and map out a strategy that will fully safeguard the aggrieved all around the world. The UN should be able to take initiatives especially in poor countries such as Bangladesh, and be directly involved in the situations there. To that end, the term refugee should be redefined according to the conditions of today; be they refugees or asylum-seekers, the newcomers should be put under protection in humane conditions and their rights to citizenship and labor should be regulated. Of course, the UN will need money for this. But this need should be met by the other member countries of the UN, and in this respect, a pool should be set up, to which every member country will contribute as much as their budgets allow. This initiative may seem implausible, considering the fact that some of the member countries have yet to pay their membership fees. However, the amount the annual payments of the member countries and the money they will contribute to the aid fund must be established based on the prospective regulations. It is essential for the UN to step into action towards renewing both the memberships and the organization itself.
As for the permanent solution, it is to turn this world into a realm of beauty, founded upon love and conscience. What needs to be done to achieve this is to deal a scientific blow to the materialistic mentality by abolishing the materialist education system. Today, the materialistic mentality has sadly taken over Muslim countries as well, fostering unscrupulousness to the utmost. Its prevention will be the most significant step taken towards safeguarding the aggrieved.