Myanmar(Also known as Burma); a relatively small country on the south-east of Asia has been known for its precious ruby mines, but mostly for its Military Junta that lasted for nearly fifty years. Being an isolated nation, Myanmar has established itself as a pariah state, with appalling humans’ rights records but has produced an inspirational patriot like Aung San Suu kyi who fought for her pro-democracy values for twenty one years and won a noble peace price in 1991 along with other respectable awards. Being in and out of house arrest for fifteen years, she finally assumed the office on the 2nd of May of this year for National League for Democracy.
As a country Myanmar is going through a great phase of change. Where freedom of speech is not guaranteed by law, the censorship of controlling and regulating certain informations on areas such as religious, politics, moral and ethnic issues is due to be abolished soon ( as in it will take good few years).
As spectators, the general impression of Myanmar is that of a quite Buddhist nation possibly with a Royal family like an another small Buddhist nation like Bhutan. But on the contrary, Myanmar is one of first Asian countries to end the monarchy in 1916 and like most Asian countries has a diverse ethnicity. But the recent news of racial discriminative acts against the Rohingya Muslims has been outrageous and inhumane.
The on-going violence in the northern state of Rakhine between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists has escalated. As many are left homeless due to villages being set on fire, children being killed, women are being raped and survivors desperately seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries such as Thailand where they are being pushed away on engine less boats to die in the sea or being rejected by border guards of Bangladesh. From the statistics given by the president of Burmese Rohingya organisation UK (on the 28/06/2012): 650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced. Over Three hundred houses and a number of public buildings have also been destroyed and burned. All this because of one reason: The Rohingyas are dark brown skinned.
The Burmese belief on racial superiority is based on the appearance of pale skin and being a Buddhist. Those reasons alone seem to be the cause of refusal to admit Rohingya Muslims as citizens of the country. Despite the existence of Rohingyas in Myanmar dating as far back as the 8th century, they have been targeted for their race and choice of religion, denying them basic human rights, land ownership and enlisted as stateless illegal immigrants in their own ancestral land.General Ye Mint Aung wrote to his fellow Diplomats in Hong Kong the following statement regarding this matter
"You will see in the photos that their complexion is "dark brown" in contrast to the complexion of Myanmese which is fair and soft, good looking as well"
In reality, the Rohingyas do speak Bengali and have the appearance similar to that of their Bengali neighbours. Myanmar's racial remarks and actions towards the Rohingyas are also offensive to it's western neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and world's power house like India. Due to The government censorship on such issues has led to few informative available for this matter. The access to aids for the Rohingyas has been limited and difficult to reach due to government restrictions. According to the Burmese authorities; 78 people have been killed, 87 injured and 52,000 have been displaced. But one thing that has come as a shock to me is that such action of extreme racism is being excused by the ASEAN countries.
Four billion years of evolutionary success and for what?