It’s alleged that more 100 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in a massacre carried out by Burmese security forces and vigilante Buddhists in the north of Myanmar.
For anyone who considers themselves in touch with ongoing world events and the current social climate it’s understandable to assume that we are in an eternal state of conflict.
We once joked about World War III and now it looks depressingly real, Hurricane Harvey has ripped through Houston leaving many desperate and destitute, ever since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump faith and race related crimes have risen. Furthermore the trust of those who are meant to protect and serve is waning and the political divide between left and right is bigger than ever.
All these things deserve to be covered, they have every right to be – it would be irresponsible for us to ignore.
But it would be also be irresponsible for us to ignore atrocities and injustices going on in the world that seem to go unnoticed in mainstream media – either through turning a blind eye because it’s not close to our shores or because it’s just not deemed relevant.
I’m talking about atrocities like the 100-plus Rohingya Muslims – men, women and children – who were allegedly brutally massacred by the authorities and rogue Buddhists in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and the 40,000 other Rohingya natives who are now fleeing the nation, seeking refuge in Bangladesh.
Tensions in Myanmar stem from an ongoing conflict between Rohingya insurgents and security forces in the northern state Rakhine. A recent spate of attacks on the security forces have led to a huge military crackdown.
Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic minority of about 1.1 million, they face discrimination and persecution from the Burmese government. Rahkine is the poorest region in Myanmar and the Rohingyas living there are not considered citizens.
The conflict reached an all-time high after the insurgents attacked a police post.
This triggered the massacre in which 400 people were killed. Most are reported to be insurgents but it’s also believed up to 130 innocent men, women and children lost their lives too.
Chris Lewa, Director of pressure group Arakan Project told an ABC broadcaster:
So far reports – I think quite credible – mention about 130 people including women and children killed.
That happened on Sunday when suddenly security forces cordoned [off] the whole area, together with Rakhine villagers. It seems like this has been a major massacre in Rathedaung.
According to The Independent mass graves were being dug in a village South of Chut Pyin while security forces were burning other bodies.
According to a refugee fleeing Myanmar, speaking to BBC News, said:
Buddhists are trying to kill us by bullets. They burned our houses, tried to shoot us.
She even claimed that:
They shot dead my husband.
If these claims turn out to be true, the Buddhists in Myanmar have gone against their teachings, breaking the First Tenant – which is to refrain from killing any living thing.
There are many conflicting reports coming from the ground, the Burmese government are saying they are fighting against militants but those fleeing, including Buddhists from Rakhine, say they are being massacred.
One of the reasons there hasn’t been an impartial view of the situation is because journalists cannot get unrestricted access to those areas.
Speaking to The Independent, Charu Lata Hogg, an associate fellow in Chatham House’s Asia programme, explained people are fleeing because of the ‘insecure environment’ in Rahkine.
Lata Hogg says:
The fact that access is extremely limited and there are no independent monitors makes the situation very difficult to assess.
No journalists are being allowed in and the UN is focused on humanitarian effort and relief provision rather than human rights monitoring.
Despite the lack of information coming from Myanmar, which has had issues with human rights in the past, Lata Hogg says its obvious ‘the situation is rapidly escalating’.
The Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been called out by critics in the west for not denouncing her government’s treatment of a minority group who have complained about decades of oppression and persecution.
While the Dalai Lama has previously denounced the attacks by Buddhists in the past, he has yet to release a statement on the alleged involvement of ‘vigilante Buddhists’ in Rahkine.
The massacre has triggered a mass exodus for the Muslims of Rohingya, forcing them from their homes in order to preserve the lives of themselves and their loved ones. After years and years of being treated less than human, can the leaders of the free world let this injustice continue?
How much longer can the world turn a blind eye to their oppression?