The Muslim population in Myanmar’s eastern Rakhine State has been subject to extensive persecution and deportation by the government. In the latest aggression against the minority group, three villages inhabited by the Rophingya Muslims in Rakhine have been torched, as evidenced by high-definition satellite imagery provided by Human Rights Watch. Press TV has interviewed two experts to shed more light on the situation of the Muslim minority in the East Asian country.
Editor of Veterans Today, Kevin Barrett, is of the opinion that the government in Myanmar is trying to use the Muslim minority as a scapegoat, adding that “it’s part of a problem with the larger national identity in Myanmar.”
“The people in Myanmar have that memories of the British colonialism and now as they’ve emerged as kind of new post-colonial identity, they look around for scapegoats to unite” against some minorities like Rohingya Muslims in a bid to “build up their self-esteem” by saying that the Muslim population came into the country as a result of the British colonial system, Barrett stated.
Myanmar’s authorities “have developed this mythology of the Rohingya people as non-Myanmar people” and used the propaganda to persecute and deport them from the East Asian state, he noted.
He called for international action to protect the lives of Muslims in Myanmar, saying, “We need to help the Rohingya people by whatever means we can and I think the way to do that is through the international bodies that are responsible for trying to help victims in these situations.”
Criticizing the international trend to demonize and persecute Muslims around the world, the analyst said that “all over the world, we’re seeing the Muslims disproportionately being singled out for scapegoating, playing a role that the Jews used to play in Western civilization as a kind of perennial scapegoats.”
Barrett further dismissed the claim that Muslim nations are ignoring the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, noting that the Islamic world “is paying more attention to this issue than anyone else.”
He also went on to say that media outlets in the Muslim world have covered the agony of the Rohingya minority more than any Western mainstream media.
According to the commentator, “The problem now is that the Muslim world today is helpless and divided. It still hasn’t recovered from the conquest that the Europeans subjected it to over the past couple of centuries and it hasn’t figured out a way to unite on the things that should unite us such as standing up for the persecuted people in Myanmar.”
Underlining the need for having a new way of thinking to help oppressed Muslims throughout the world, he warned, “We haven’t had a really good kind of pan-Islam strategy to liberate the genocide victims” in places such as Palestine, Kashmir and Myanmar.
He further called for living up to the Islamic rules, which promote resistance against perpetrators of atrocities while invite to self-restraint when it comes to civilians.
Meanwhile, Maxine Dovere, a journalist and political commentator, said that “it is a shameful situation for the government of Myanmar not to recognize and acknowledge the presence of a very small minority” of Muslims.
“The exact number of Rohingya Muslims can hardly be known because the government has not included this Muslim minority in its population statistics and in the last 40 or 50 years, there has been no real counting of the population,” she said.
Dovere noted that “it’s a very useful tool to have an enemy within and the population of Rohingya has been used to kind of quiet the military rule that had been the case in Burma until very recently.”
“This population (Rohingya Muslims) specifically has been claimed by Myanmar to be Bangladeshi; however, when the members of the community tried to enter Bangladesh, they were turned back and not accepted as Bangladeshi,” she added.
Accusing Muslim states of ignoring the agony of the Muslim minority in Myanmar, the journalist said, Muslims are not only being persecuted in non-Muslim countries but also in some Islamic nations.
She further argued that international “commerce” may play an important role in keeping most of the world nations silent when it comes to atrocities against Muslims in Myanmar.
“The responsibility of all of the world, of the United Nations, to note and to condemn Myanmar for its actions is very very large,” she said.
Muslim majority nations or other nations have the ability to accept and aid refugees, she said, adding that all member states of the United Nations are responsible to save the Rohingya Muslims.
The government in Myanmar has deprived 1.1 million-strong Rohingya people of their citizenship. As a result of the anti-Muslim policies of the government, hundreds have been killed and thousands of others have been forced to flee their homes since 2012.