News Analysis: A genocide in progress
The two pictures will haunt our memories for long -- maybe forever.
In one picture, taken probably in the approaching evening, a whole village is burning in the background, flames leaping into the air. Rickety bamboo structures of houses crumbling, we are sure, with cracking sounds of bamboo poles bursting open.
In the foreground, some women and children are running. A few old men too. Behind them are coming some machete wielding men, their intention all clear. That was Myanmar, probably 2012.
Another picture appeared in this newspaper that was later picked by the international media. Here a hapless Rohingya man standing on a boat pleads with his two palms pressed together, crying to be allowed to come ashore, to come to safety from the killer Myanmar army and Buddhist monks. His children sitting in the background with all the uncertainties of the world written on their faces.
Were they allowed to step to safety? Or were they pushed off to the sea, to uncertainty? Where are they now? Did they survive? Nobody cared.
And the same thing is being repeated now. The same Myanmar army and the same monks are once again cutting through the "most persecuted people" of our time. And the world blissfully turns a blind eye to the genocide – we call it genocide as every action of the Myanmar government fulfils the criteria of genocide as set by the UN in 1948 -- that is being carried out by Myanmar away from the media's eyes in a tightly controlled fear regime.
Strangely, the so-called great leader of Myanmar, the Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has no time to even utter a word to stop this genocide on the Rohingya Muslims. Not only that, she has actually condoned the killings by denigrating the Rohingyas by referring to them as "Bengalis". She also feels upset as in her view the international community has overtly "focused on one side of the conflict without having the real information".
Not only that, she went to the extent to argue that her party National League for Democracy-led government's actions are based on "the rule of law".
And what is that rule of law? Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingyas as their citizens. They have no voting rights. They are herded into ghettos. They are not allowed to go to any place other than their own neighbourhood. They are denied access to health and education.
If they have to get citizenship, they have to show documents of living in Myanmar for at least 60 years. Unfortunately, these poor, illiterate people have no paper records to prove even their stay for a single day although they have been in Myanmar since the Mughal era.
Doesn't it sound very much the Nazi Germany? Doesn't it sound very much like ethnic cleansing or the beginning of a genocide?
Exactly that happened later. First in the 1990s on the ground that Rohingyas are Bangladeshis. And then again, and again. In 2013, an allegation was brought that Rohingyas had raped a Myanmar woman, and then another wave of violence was unleashed on the Rohingyas.
And this time, on October 9 when some militants killed nine policemen, the knee-jerk action was to kill and rape the Rohingyas. There was no time to even wait for the report of an investigation committee on who killed the cops.
Whatever information is seeping in, it is clear that a rampant killing and raping of women has become the order of the day. A whole people are being systematically obliterated, amounting to a possible genocide.
Yet the world response is strangely demure. The UN has issued a statement that instead of vehemently blaming Myanmar for the wrongs and asking it to immediately stop the genocide rather asked Bangladesh to open its border. On a milder tone, it just asked Myanmar to protect its civilians in accordance to the "rule of law".
UN's appeal for giving it humanitarian access was drubbed by Myanmar.
And what is the response from the West? Nothing that we know of. The West probably thinks Myanmar is too far away to think about the genocide. And the US is too happy to get some access to the close regime.
This genocide is not going to bring in refugees to Europe or the US. So why worry?
And yet we should worry. Because if the world has to be proud of the human race, then it has to stop this genocide on a large number of humans who are being persecuted like pests.