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WEDNESDAY, September 28, 2022
Help the Rohingya or share in the guilt

Help the Rohingya or share in the guilt

FRIDAY, December 30, 2016
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Imagine you are a Rohingya living in a small village in western Myanmar. You do more than merely get by – you have a happy family, a rich culture and a lot of friends. Un the past your people have been targeted many times by soldiers, police, other agents of the military dictatorship and by local groups. But you and your village have not been attacked.

This time, though, it’s different. The army and police are
waging a “scorched earth” offensive throughout the Rohingya homeland. They have burned down villages, murdered or arrested the men (many of the detainees are killed later), raped the women and stolen everything of value. They often kill the women, elderly and children as well. You are being subjected to an organised, systematic campaign of terror.
You hope that warnings from lookouts and your dogs will give a head start before truckloads of killers and rapists come. You can run, but the area is flat and it’s easy for the killers to follow. You have to move fast, including the elderly and children.
In this terrain, your situation is different from the Mon, Karen, Karenni, Shan, Kachin and other ethnic groups living in the hills that have also been terrorised for decades. They can hide in forests. 
You, though, can wait for the killers to attack your home or you can give up and flee to Bangladesh. But Bangladesh isn’t very welcoming. It already has large Rohingya refugee camps from earlier periods of repression and is now forcing back any new arrivals.
This is what it means to be a Rohingya in Burma. Individuals who are injured or sick can’t get medical care. There’s not enough food and many people are starving. It’s truly monstrous, a living hell.
The Rohingya are peaceful and with rare exceptions are not fighting back in self-defence. They are being exterminated, one by one and in small groups, and suffering incredible brutality before they are killed.
This is genocide. Anyone who has any power at all to influence the country’s political leaders and diplomats, starting with Aung San Suu Kyi, is obliged to act. If you don’t, if you don’t want to risk your career, or if you are simply cold-hearted and don’t care, then you are a terrible person as well.
Roland Watson