Myanmar (better known as Burma) has been accused of the ethnic cleansing of a group called the Rohingya. The Rohingya have long-lived along the Burmese eastern coast, which borders the heavily Muslim nation of Bangladesh.
Most media treat the Rohingya as stateless people who have done little to deserve their plight. Some of this is true, and this complicates things. The Rohingya are both an ethnicity and, for the most part, are devout Muslims. Their mistreatment by the Burmese government may cross both ethnic and religious lines.
But the media has missed a detail in their rush to proclaim a victim in the land of Burma.
Burma achieved independence from the British in 1948, during Britain’s abandonment of its former Empire. It was ruled for over a decade by a parliamentary government until 1962. A military junta then overthrew the prime minister, U Nu, in favor of its own rule. The junta changed Burma’s name to Myanmar and is still in power today.
The current civilian head of government is Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Kyi has faced stiff criticism from various groups, and from other Peace Prize winners, for not having done more to stop the mistreatment of the Rohingya.
Aye Chan, professor at Kanda University of International Studies, has written that the Rohinjya are, historically, economic migrants from what is now Bangladesh. According to Chan, the word Rohingya was coined in the 1950s and, “…cannot be found in any historical source in any language before then.”
The offended in the West have neglected to look in to the history of Burma, a history which suffers from usual Muslim expansion and violence. The roots of the Rohingya crisis are deeper than mere ethnic difference, they are rooted in religion.
Rohingya have long been suspected of ties to radical Islamic groups like Al-Qaeda. Rohingya militias, like the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an Islamic group, has become so violent that some 100,000 Hindu Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh. Such accusations have been attacked by journalists as a piece of propaganda. One writer has claimed that, “They want human rights for all Rohingya, not a caliphate or an emirate,” speaking of the Rohingya.
The Western response has been, as seen, typical. The chattering classes have found an “oppressed” people group in a faraway land and gone into vapors over their plight. It is certain that wrongs have been done in Burma. But the history is older than 2017, older than 1948, it goes back centuries. And rather than see the nasty behavior common to fundamentalist Muslims, the world ‘community’ would rather throw mud at Aung San Suu Kyi, than ask whether they really grasp what’s going on.
China is also in the world community’s sights for its own mistreatment of Muslim minorities. In China’s case it has forced some 1 million Uyghur Muslims into internment camps in Xinjiang Province, in western China. Uyghur’s are an ethnically Turkic group who speak a Turkic language. They have an uneasy relationship with Beijing’s official policy of Marxist atheism. Beijing’s restrictions on Uyghur Muslims has forced them to adopt pilgrimages to a sacred site called the Mazar, in the Uyghur city of Tuyoq, as opposed to the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. Beijing has encouraged Han Chinese to settle in Xinjian, reducing the Uyghur population in that province to a fraction of what it was 60 years ago.
Attacks by an atheistic government are not limited to Muslims. Accounts have reached this writer from American’s living in China about crackdown’s upon Chinese Christians. Crosses have been removed, churches have been closed and pastors threatened. Officially the Chinese government enforces an atheism far more powerful than France’s lacite laws.
China’s has concerns that Uyghar Muslims sepratists, having fought for ISIS in Syria, will return to China to spread rebellion against Beijing. Once, between 1931-1934, the Uyghar’s briefly had their own nation, backed by the Soviet Union, called the First East Turkestan Republic, before it was crushed by China. Since then the Uyghar’s and the province of Xinjian where they dwell, have been part of Red China.
Beijing has now taken a step that goes beyond such run-of-the mill totalitarian evil. They have placed Han Chinese agents among countless Uyghur families as ‘relatives.’ They are calling this a ‘cultural exchange program’ Some 1 million Han have been dispatched to live among Uyghur and other minority families, as a new ‘grandparent,’ ‘brother,’ or ‘sister.’ Anthropologist Darren Byler, who’s fieldwork is among the Uyghur, saw Han spies looking for things like:
Had a Uighur host just greeted a neighbor in Arabic with the words “Assalamu Alaykum”? That would need to go in the notebook. Was that a copy of the Quran in the home? Was anyone praying on Friday or fasting during Ramadan? Was a little sister’s dress too long or a little brother’s beard irregular? And why was no one playing cards or watching movies?
Han agents are living in the homes of the Uyghur, attending family events and watching them always to ensure loyalty to Beijing. Such close observation is horrifying, no matter the target. What motivates China is less a fear of terrorism than a fear of anyone not being Han Chinese and Communist. As such any loyalties to outside things, like Jesus or Allah, is to be undermined at every chance. China thinks it cannot survive if everyone is not a single homogenous unit. How it is willing to go to attain that awful goal remains to be seen.
The treatment of these Muslim groups, the Rohingya and the Uyghur, has wrung outrage from some Western voices, but scarcely any from their fellow Muslims. This is especially so in the case of Uyghur’s in China. China is a major trading partner, and it is unlikely that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would risk Beijing’s wroth by challenging their treatment of Muslim minorities. Does this show an apathetic disregard for their co-religionists who are being oppressed?
It may seem strange that this writer, a critic of Islam, is decrying the mistreatment of Muslims. But something must be remembered in these cases: first they came for the Muslims. Although the problem of political Islam is large and growing across the world, an individual Muslim is due the same rights as any other human person. The challenge’s posed by Islam cannot be rightfully dealt with by such oppression. Other means are called for.