Sultan Bashir Mahmood (Sitara-e-Imtiaz)
What is happening in Burma in these days? It is a tragedy never seen in the modern history. According to Time Magazine July 1, 2013 â€œIt is something akin to ethnic cleansing. The trouble began last year in the far west, where clashes between local Buddhists and Muslims claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives. Machete-wielding Buddhist hordes attacked Rohingya villages; 70 Muslims were slaughtered in a daylong massacre in one hamlet, according to Human Rights Watch. The communal violence, which the government has done little to check, has since migrated to other parts of the country. In March, dozens were killed and tens of thousands left homeless as homes and mosque were razed. Children were hacked apart and women torchedâ€¦â€¦â€¦.â€
Three million Muslims have been declared stateless by the government although they have been living in that country since centuries. Muslims first of all arrived in Arakan, a province of Burma bordering Bangladesh, as preacher / traders, some thousand years ago. It is almost the same period when they reached Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and China to enlighten the world with the wisdom of Islam, belief in One God, One Humanity and equal human rights, being the sons and daughters of a common grand - grand father and mother. In the Mughal period and later under the British rule also there were more migrations. But Burma remained primarily a Buddhist country. Under Muslim rule, there were never any forcible conversions. That is why even today Muslims are less than 6% out of the total population of 60 million. There are other minority communities such as Christian, Sikhs and Hindus also. All have been living peacefully together with the Buddhist majority population. However, since last few years everything has changed for the Muslims. According to the Timeâ€™s reporter Hannah Beech â€œThousands of them are crammed into refugee camps where journalists are forbidden to enter. I was able to meet the family of 15 year old Abdul Razak Shahban, one of at least 20 students at a local madrasah who were killed. Razakâ€™s own life ended when a nail studded plank was slammed against his skull. â€œMy son was killed because he was Muslim, nothing else,â€ Razakâ€™s mother Rahamabi told me, in the shadow of a burned-out mosque.â€
â€œBuddhist blood is boiling in Burma, also known as Myanmar and plenty of Muslim blood is being spilled. Over the past year, Buddhist mobs have targeted members of this minority faith. The authorities say scores of Muslims have been killed; international human-rights workers put the number in the hundreds. Much of the violence is directed against the Rohingya, a largely stateless Muslim group in Burmaâ€™s far west that the U.N. calls one of the Worldâ€™s most persecuted people. The communal bloodshed has also spread to central Burma, where the fiery Buddhist Monk Wirathu lives and preaches his virulent sermons. The radical monk sees Muslims, as a threat to the country and its culture. He incites people by telling â€œ[Muslims] are breeding so fast and they are stealing our women, raping them. They would like to occupy our country, but I wonâ€™t let them. We must keep Myanmar Buddhist.â€Already some government officials are calling for implementation of a ban, rarely enforced during the military era, on Rohingya womenâ€™s bearing more than two children.
The fate of Burmese Muslim slipped further into darker waters with the new democratic rule. Politicians care nothing but to win the majority (i.e.90%) Buddhistâ€™s vote. The policy of the new democratic government is much more brutal for the Muslim. Even, they do not heed to the request of U.S President Barak Obama to show tolerance, and not to expel its Muslim population from their homes. Similar calls for peace from UNO have been rejected. Request for sanity from Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and many worldwide human rights organizations have been responded by the Burmese government with greater atrocities. Situation is so bad that international NGO â€œDoctors on Callâ€ warns, â€œBurmese Muslim may perish entirely in few years due to hunger and disease if timely help does not reachâ€.(Internet report)
In a new development, the Burmese government has declared the Muslim population of Arakan province as Bangladeshi Refugees. On this pretext they have started forcibly pushing them out of Karakan. On the other side, Bangladeshi soldiers with their loaded rifles frighten them to go back to Burma. Surprisingly both governments do not allow any NGO, even of the United Nations, to supply badly needed food, clothing and medicines. On the Bangladeshi side, one may be able to sneak in if prepared to pay 70 to 80% of charity money in bribes to the security personals, but on the Burmese side they are not satisfied even with the 100 percent. They may put you in jail declaring missing person.
The fate of the Burmese Muslim who flee to Thailand is even more horrible. It is catch between the Devil and Fire situation. Thailanders sell men to as slave workers and women as prostitutes. It may seem unbelievable but according to some internet reports, those who escape this fate are made fish food in the open seas.
Burmese Muslims are suffering because of their faith only. Other religious minorities such as Sikhs, Hindus and Christian are safe. Buddhist Monks also offer to the Muslims, life in reward for rejection of Islam but they have preferred death in this bargain. How long? May Allah give them strength forever. 1. In this terrible situation the attitude of the Muslim countries, OIC particularly, has been pathetic indeed. The following Ayat of the Holy Quran depict their state of affair.
â€œWhat has happened to you (OIC in this case) that you do not respond to the call of helpless men, women and children, (Burmese Muslims in this case) who are weak in the land and who pray for help in destitute, â€œO Allah save us away from the inhabitants of this town (Burmese Buddhist in this case) who are cruel. O Allah send us a help from you to save us from their atrocitiesâ€. (Sura al Nisa, Aya 75-78)
The Burmese Muslims are today crying for help to the humanity at large and to their Muslim Brethren in particular. The Message of Allah is loud and clear. If Ummah does not come to their help, they will meet martyrdom in the end (not a bad bargain) but what about Allahâ€™s Wrath on the so called Muslim countries who are dumb to their S.O.S?
More than anyone else, it should be the occasion of special concern for the Pakistanis. In 1971, after the surrender, when thousands of Pakistani fled for life, they were given refuge in Arakan by these very people. Allah Subhan-Hu says in the Holy Quran, â€œWhat is the return of goodness, other than the goodness.â€ (Sura Al-Rehman) This is the time to pay back the debt of gratitude we owe to them. We can do it in many ways. For example, on the diplomatic front Pakistani government should raise this issue in the United Nation. It must call for an emergency meeting of the OIC to discuss exclusively this problem to arrive at a common strategy for the Ummah to help the Burmese Muslims in their sufferings.
At the individual level, we should find out the ways and means to send our Zakat and Sadqat money to help them sustain against hunger and disease. Some people tell me, callously â€œAre there not enough hungry and sick people in Pakistan that you suggest going to Burma in their search?â€ They must realize that it is not simply the question of people dying with hunger; it amounts to death of Islam in Burma. It is fighting Jihaad against the worst possible abuses of human rights in modern history. To help them is thus to help the cause of Islam as well as of the humanity. If we help them, Allah will help us in our problems.
As discussed already Relief Agencies are facing many logistic problems in sending them any type of help. In â€œTahreek-e-Noorâ€ along with our sister organizations we are also trying to establish credible links to send them food and medicines etc. You may join any of these efforts, or cooperate with Tahreek-e-Noor to achieve its aims and objectives.