For quite some time now pictures and videos of mass killings of Burmese muslims by Buddhist extremists in cahoots with Burmese government are circulating on social media websites, yet the silence of mainstream media on this brutality is beyond our comprehension. While international media can be excused for its inaction on the issue due to alleged bias against Muslims, it is deeply disturbing that national media has also decided to ignore this human tragedy for some strange reasons.

According to reports, latest outbreak of violence began in the first week of June 2012 after three Muslim men were allegedly accused of gang raping and murdering a Buddhist woman. In retaliation, angry Buddhist mob killed ten Muslim bus passengers and since then more than 20,000 Muslims have been tortured to death and around 90,000 have been forced to flee and/or take refuge in temporary camps due to burning of their houses, villages and mosques. These refugees are living in dire straits in temporary camps termed as “open air prisons” by ICRC officials. The Burmese security forces are also supporting local Buddhist community in targeting Muslim minority. It is not the alleged crime of three Muslims that has brought havoc on Burmese Muslims. For decades, Rohingyas, Muslim minority group, has been the victim of systematic persecution and cleansing by Burmese government and extremist Buddhists. During military operation in 1978, Rohingya Muslims were subjected to widespread killings, torture and rape forcing 200,000 Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Likewise in 1991-92, another 250,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following a new wave of violence against them. Currently, around 800,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in northern part of Rakhaine state (formerly known as Arakan) in extremely miserable conditions without any citizenship and proprietary rights. They are the stateless people and one of the most persecuted minorities in the world according to the United Nations.

Rohingya Muslims are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance to end their sufferings. International community especially Muslim countries and OIC must take responsibility and force Burmese government for stopping violence against its Muslim minority as well as provide aid agencies and media organizations unrestricted access to the conflict zone for assessing the situation and helping the oppressed.

NASEEM AHMED KK,

Lahore, July 25.