The Fate Of Burmese Muslims

By Abdul Majid Zargar

It was not an opportune time for Dalai Lama, the most revered spiritual head of Buddhists around the world, to be in Kashmir & enjoy walking over the scattered hair of his female followers lying prostate. Instead he should have been in Myanmar to get a feel of the scores of dead bodies of Muslims killed by his followers in Myanmar and lying scattered all-round. And the advice of remaining peaceful to the oppressed people of Kashmir should have been directed at the killers in Myanmar, otherwise touted as followers of the most peaceful religion.

The genocide of the Muslims in Myanmar is not a new affair but institutionalized in the history of Myanmar. During World War II, these Muslims, also known as Rohingyas, remained loyal to British and paid dearly for this choice. The advancing Japnese & Burmese armies with the help of identification provided by local Buddhists massacred, tortured & raped these defenseless Muslims. On March 28, 1942 alone about 5,000 Muslims were massacred in Minbya and Mrohaung Townships. After conquering the region in 1945,the British compensated them to some extent by setting up an autonomous civilian administration zone for them in Arkan. But the affair proved short lived as this autonomous zone was merged with Burma in 1948 treaty granting Burma independence from Britain. Following the merger, Muslims were barred from Military services and Muslim civil servants & policemen were immediately replaced by Buddhists. Rohingya leaders were arbitrarily placed under arrest and those refugees who had earlier fled to India were not permitted to return. Back home their properties were confiscated & allotted to Burmese Buddhists. In 1958, Buddhism was declared as official religion of Myanmar after which the Buddhists extremists have been encouraged more to carry out massacre of the Muslims at regular intervals. The persecution became more intense after General Ne win engineered the military take-over of the Government in 1962.

Described as the Palestine of Asia by the UN, the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar is living under extremely appalling circumstances. The dictatorial government of Myanmar has deliberately neglected their ordeal and the international community is overlooking their suffering. Going through an unutterable ordeal at the hands of the extremist Buddhists who are targeting them at every available opportunity& indulging in worst form of genocide & religious cleansing. In a recent spate of violence triggering fresh migration, some 2000 Rohinga Muslims have come to Delhi and are living in pitiable & sub-human conditions in Vasant Kunj jungles.

Not content with killing & rape, this unfortunate community is even denied their basic rights, i.e. the right to freedom of movement, marriage, faith, identity, ownership, language, heritage and culture and above all citizenship rights.. The government of Myanmar considers them to be "resident foreigners." This lack of full citizenship rights means that they are subject to other abuses, including restrictions on their freedom of movement, discriminatory limitations on access to education, and arbitrary confiscation of property. Deplorable as it is, the Muslims in Myanmar are among the most persecuted minorities in the world according to UN.

Unfortunately, the Myanmar peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of these Muslims. Maybe she has forgotten her own words on democracy and human rights that, “The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity.”

In view of the ongoing inhumane violations in Myanmar , the US and its western allies, which keep pontificating about human rights in the world, have feigned ignorance about this humanitarian catastrophe. Why? Because they will not be able to reap any benefits of their future efforts in the country as they do in the Middle East and elsewhere. To crown it all, they have kept an agonizingly meaningful silence over the massacre. It is certainly incumbent upon every person who cares about human dignity to fly in the face of this inhumanity and give a helping hand to the downtrodden Myanmar Muslims.

(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at



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