This is just a post to vent my frustration at how some people are reacting to the Rohingya issue.
To catch everyone up, the issue of the Myanmar government persecuting Rohingya Muslims first came into light (in the mainstream western media) a few years ago. Due to recent waves of refugees from Rakhine state in Myanmar into Bangladesh, the issue has become a big deal again. This time I’m seeing more frequent use of the words “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” but I can’t say if those terms are justified. Despite the fact that there is a lot more media coverage these days, this problem has been going on for a really long time (like since when Myanmar was under British control, and even before that).
Many Maldivians would have only heard about the crisis recently, and while I’m all for people being informed about world events, I have a bad feeling about the way some are reacting to the news.
Before I go on, I have to say that even I am not fully informed. But I’ve taken a bit of time to look at different viewpoints, and I’m open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the dominant narrative that I’m being sold is not entirely correct.
“What is this dominant narrative?” you may ask. Well, it can be summarised in three words:
Muslims are victims
Yes. That is the story that is being sold to everyone about the Rohingya problem. And while there is truth to it, it feeds into the broader narrative that Muslims are never at fault, and wherever they go, they are oppressed by the rest of society.
There are a few reasons why I’m sick of this way of thinking. Firstly, it presents an extremely black and white way of looking at the world; one that is Muslim vs non-Muslim. In the case of the Rohingya, the main issue wasn’t even religion to begin with.
Secondly, (related to the first reason) it is a very divisive way of thinking. By only having the perspective that Muslims are being persecuted without knowledge of the broader context and history, Maldivians will start to think of the “other” (in this case, the Myanmar government and Buddhists in general) as the enemy.
Finally, (related to the first two reasons) it implicitly denies similar atrocities committed by Muslims by painting them as perpetual victims without a shred of agency or accountability and are never at fault. This is where the hypocrisy comes in. Nobody said anything when ISIS was persecuting Yazidis and other religious minorities. Nobody said anything when Boko Haram burned Christian schoolboys alive. Nobody said anything when Bangladeshi Muslims destroyed Buddhist temples. And people actually celebrated the deaths of innocent people at the hands of Muslims in Paris, Orlando, Barcelona and other cities.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the public outcry against persecution of Rohingya Muslims is bad. And I am most definitely not trying to justify everything that’s happening to the Rohingya by means of whataboutism. I just think people should be consistent with their sympathy.
I may not have made my perspective on the actual issue clear.
I do not support violence on either side. And yes, there has been violence from both sides. I don’t think continued violence from either side is going to solve anything. I think it is wrong that innocent people are being persecuted. I think there has to be a peaceful solution which involves compromise.
I can’t say much about the causes of the issue, but it’s much more than “Hey look at this Muslim minority, let’s torture them!”
I think that people should be angry at what’s happening in Myanmar. But they should be angry for the right reasons. Don’t be angry because it’s Muslims who are being persecuted. Look at the Rohingya first and foremost as fellow human beings. Stand on the right side of justice no matter who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed.
I’m talking to individuals as well as governments. The Maldivian government apparently cut ties with Myanmar, and that is probably justified. I would like to think they would do the same to any other country with a questionable human rights record. Even if that country is supposedly unquestionably the best most super duper Islamically Muslim country in the history of like forever.
Thankyou for reading. For more information to fully form your own opinion, I strongly suggest reading through this.
And if I’ve missed the mark on anything, tell me.