“The international community didn’t pay much attention to us and the Muslim world is too busy with the Palestinian cause, although the Burmese Muslims in Arakan live in much worse conditions than Palestinians in Israel.”
Mr Abdul Majid, 57, and many other Saudi Burmese who cannot renew their residency permits, are now waiting for the Saudi government to grant them special permits by royal decree or a direct order from the minister of interior that will allow them to stay in the country legally. The Rohingya must meet strict requirements to be considered legal residents. While the earliest Rohingya refugees were granted citizenship, those born in the kingdom after 1972 were not. Most of them were given passports by the sympathetic governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh but were required to find work sponsors to live legally in Saudi, which many Rohingya have not been able to maintain.
Let us not forget that the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma is as alive as the oppression they are subjected to in Saudi Arabia. Too bad you won’t find the issue receiving its rightful coverage.
Edit: It is important to note that the Rohingya oppression in Burma is not limited to Muslims only - Hindus and other minorities are oppressed as well. The link given above is related to the religious persecution of the Muslim group. Hoping that this clears the confusion.
Comparing the issue of Muslims in Burma to the one in Saudia Arabia isn’t at all fair.
The Rohingya aren’t persecuted because they’re Muslim or Hindu or of any religion, they’re persecuted because they’re not recognized as Burmese. Is there religious bias? Yes, just like there’s Islamophobia and other religious discrimination all over the world. The issue of religion simply adds to the original issue, which is that they, like other ethnic groups, most of who aren’t Muslims, are not granted autonomy, that they’re locked in a civil war against the government. This whole article on the conflict in Arakan is well written. There’s people who have trouble loading the page so it’s all here, too. (This article is quoted below)
The issue is a sort of internal colonization started under Ne Win’s regime when the General Aung San died. Aung San promised the ethnic groups independence, but when then he was assassinated. When Ne Win took power, he denied the people what they were promised and convinced the people that the lands indigenous to the ethnic groups were for ‘the Burmese’, an ideology that brings to issue amyo (race/nation), where the only Burmese that were ‘true’ Burmese were Buddhist Burmese who gave in to the government and national borders (that did not exist, and do not exist for the ethnic minorities). The people failed to recognize this which lead them to internalize the racism in Ne Win’s words and Ne Win’s idea that the ethnic groups demanding their own power were just causing trouble and were ‘rebels’. In Burma, the ‘separatists/ rebels’ are ‘thaung gyan tu’, which translates to mean rioters/ looters/ criminals, so you can see why they’re not taken well.
In short, imagining the entire national territory as a singular entity and the land mass as that of the Burmese (whatever the term refers to exactly), and deeming the country a Buddhist nation led to inscribing the national space with singular ethno-religious identity, a common but problematic practice of nation-state building.
This predicament has results in burning churches, and beating and killing religious leaders in the Kachin, Chin, Karen and Karenni states and making the accusation that Christianity is encroaching on a Buddhist nation. In the ongoing Kachin conflict, churches have been turned into temporary military camps. Worse, Kachin News Agency reported in May 2012 that Burmese soldiers gang-raped an ethnic Kachin woman in a church.
The same logic applies to the Arakan conflict. Imagining the Arakan state as a unified territory in the west of Buddhist Burma, it is deemed to be an entirely Buddhist Burmese space. This completely disregards the fact that Arakan state is a combination of multiple territories inhabited by peoples with distinct cultures, religions and languages, just as in the Shan state where there are territories of the Wa, Kokant, etc.
Imagining a different reality in political centers far away from Arakan state, the Burmese disregard the reality that non-Buddhists, non-Burmese and non-Rakhine also have lived in different territories within Arakan state for centuries. Just as with all other borderlands in the world, peoples from both sides of the border move around in the Burma-Bangladesh borderland, known today as Arakan state. Having ‘illegal’ immigrants does not negate the reality that a segment of Muslims – whether they call themselves Rohingya or not – are indigenous to some territories in Arakan state.
It isn’t that they hate Muslims because they’re Muslims, or that they hate some of the Rohingya because they’re Muslims. It’s that they don’t recognize the Rohinga as Burmese because of Ne Win. (Not all Rohingya are Muslims. Not all Muslims are Rohingya). The same way they don’t recognize the people in Kachin, Chin, Karen and Karenni states. This isn’t a matter of religion. It’s a matter of nationalism. It’s a matter of the people ignoring that the ethnic groups are indigenous to the land we live on, and are Burmese. It’s a confusion of religion and ethnicity to do with nationality.
And as a Burmese Muslim, it’s concerning me that our issues are twisted around like so. There’s extremist Muslims in South East Asia that are portraying this issue through social media solely as a religious one while erasing the issues the non-Muslims in Burma are enduring and all of this is being lapped up. All this does is create further divisions between the Muslims and the non-Muslim Burmese ethnic groups to the point where they and their issues feel ignored and so they look to blame someone for their issues. The easiest scapegoat becomes the Muslims. Not because of the Muslims but because people portray the Muslims as the only ones suffering. Which means the Muslims look for support from extremist groups, which means the US is eventually going to go in to fight their “war on terror”, by which I mean they’re going to ruin Burma and get their oil.
So if you want to help the Burmese Muslims? A good idea would be to fully understand the issue and not twist it around with misinformation.
If I’ve become snappish, I apologize. But I keep seeing this happen over and over and over on Tumblr and elsewhere and it’s making things worse and I’m really concerned about what this will do to my people.
(Edit) For reference: here.