The violence in the Rakhine province of Myanmar has escalated significantly over the last month. Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims are trying to escape the violence turning towards Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh coast guard troops have been denying them refuge and turning them back!
The plight of the Rohingya minority has been described as the most prosecuted minority on Earth. There is no crime they haven’t been victims off. Rape, torture, trafficking, looting, internment camps, no access to food and medical care, murder, burnt alive, their mosques and businesses have been destroyed, and their whole villages have been struck with arson spree. Recently an image from Space showed the purge of Myanmar’s Rohingyas by both the Myanmar army and Buddhist extremists. “These satellite images of village destruction could be the tip of the iceberg given the grave abuses being reported,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director with Human Rights Watch. Yet despite all of this, the “international community” is silent and ignoring the crimes of the Burmese Government led by the Nobel-prize peace winning state counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Burma’s Muslims: A History
The Burmese government would like the world to believe that the Rohingya Muslims only came to Burma in the last 50 to 70 years. This claim is to further strengthen their case to the world that the Rohingya Muslims have no place in Burma and are migrants from Bangladesh. Islam came to the region around the 8th century under the Abbasid Khilafah of Harun al-Rashid. We know from that period that Muslims were arriving and spreading into the region with the message of Islam. At that time individual merchants and traders were also arriving via the sea to these new territories; over time Muslims settled in these areas, in places like the Arakan state.
Muslim history in the region can be seen from many monuments. The Budder Mukam Mosque was built in the 7th century but was taken by the military in 1978 and is used as a naval base camp. The Sandhi Khan Mosque was built in 1433 by Muslim Army General Sandhi Khan, but was demolished by the military in 1996. Other Mosques that were built still stand today and many streets and villages have Muslim linked names in the Arakan state; from 1430 to 1784 the Muslims ruled in the Arakan state with the help from the Sultan of Bengal.
Burma fits into a geopolitical context of America’s plan to encircle China. From Burma’s west coastline China has built natural gas and oil pipelines linking the Bay of Bengal up into south-west China – China’s way of reducing its nervous reliance on the Strait of Malacca, through which almost 80 per cent of its energy supplies pass. This partially explains why, when the Burmese Junta began to slowly open up to the outside world in 2010, it wasn’t just the Chinese who beat a path to their door. The Americans and Japanese were quick to establish better relations, with both President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan going to pay their respects in person. If they can influence Burma, they can help check China. As a result of this geopolitical context, the crimes of the Myanmar Government are being provided diplomatic cover, by all powers.
The neighbouring countries have also refused refuge to the Rohingya Muslims;
Thailand– It’s navy says that it has given aid to migrant boats in its waters and has indicated it may allow refugee camps on its shores. However, it has turned boats away and does not want permanent settlers.
Malaysia– A natural choice for most Rohingya travellers because it is predominantly Muslim and short of unskilled labourers. But Malaysia has ordered its navy to repel them.
Bangladesh– Sometimes allows them to live in camps on its south-eastern border and sometimes sends them back to Myanmar. It is estimated there are currently about 200,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps, many in terrible conditions.
Indonesia– Has made it clear they are not welcome, turning away boatloads of migrants. It has accepted those rescued by fishermen but has warned them not to rescue any more. A group of migrants who made it ashore the government has warned maybe expelled.
It is an indictment on the rulers of the Muslim world, that they have watched the Rohingya Muslims being oppressed. The Muslim regimes specifically in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia have abandoned the Rohingya women and children, abandoning their responsibility towards them in the name of preserving national interests. Indeed, this is an approach which Islam has condemned.
Only the Khilafah Can Liberate Rohingya
These regimes as well as those across the Muslim world have very little interest into the plight of the Muslims. The Rohingya Muslims are suffering from the same gross neglect that the Muslims of Palestine, Syria, Kashmir face today.
Indeed, it was the Khilafah under which true protection and honour would be provided. It is under this fine framework that regardless of faith of background, human life, property and honour is protected and cherished. It is a system under which the Khalifah Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik sent Muslim armies under the leadership of General Muhammad Bin Qasim to rescue Muslim women and children who were captured by a Hindu Raja Dahir in the southern Indian port city, which resulted in liberation of the whole area of Sindh from a cruel system.
Indeed, it is such a Khilafah state which is needed today to rescue the Rohingya Muslims.
“But if they ask you for help in respect of the deen, it is your duty to help them” [Al-Anfaal: 72]
“Only the Imam is a shield, from behind whom one would fight, and by whom one would protect oneself.” [Muslim, Sahih]