…Genocidal acts have been taking place against the Rohingya Muslims and that’s what should be of concern to the West…the West is more concerned to secure trade deals and inroad into the economy -- Burma is a very rich country, has a lot of resources -- and to sign deals for military and arms equipment.”The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has proposed to send an OIC mission to probe the massacre of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told an executive committee meeting of the world's largest Islamic body, which is based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, last week that the OIC would try to convince Naypyidaw to allow the OIC fact-finding mission. The United Nations says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education, and public services from them. The UN has also described the Muslim community as the Palestine of Asia and one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. However, the UN refugee agency has snubbed the idea of setting up refugee camps to accommodate the Rohingyas. Press TV has conducted an interview with Jahangir Mohammed, the director of the Center for Muslims Affairs, from Manchester, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview. Press TV: Along the lines of what our guest Ishtaiq Ahmad said, you have the United States and the whole world embracing Myanmar right now. Before we get into the details of that, first of all, on the silence issue, why has the US denied allegations that the Rohingya Muslims are victims of ethnic cleansing? Mohammed: I think we need to recognize that there’s a long history of ethnic cleansing that’s been going on in Myanmar, and this is not the first time. I remember in the 90s, campaigning for the Burmese Muslims, the Rohingya Muslims, and the state actually has a policy of non-recognition of its citizens and ethnic cleansing. For example, they are not recognized officially as citizens of the state. They are restricted to having two children. They are not allowed to own property or land in Myanmar. They basically are seen as aliens, not belonging to that society. There’s been a policy known as “Burmanization” to cleanse and purify Burma, and create a pure Buddhist state which has existed for a long time. The West really has not been concerned about that. It has a somewhat romantic view of a narrative about the Burmese state which is based on the idea that Buddhism is a peaceful religion, which no doubt its teachings are. But it doesn’t mean that all Buddhists are peaceful. We see here in the Burmese state an extremist and a fascist tendency amongst the Burmese population to eliminate the Muslims from the state.
The West is really seeing the oppression and human rights abuses in Burma mainly emanating from political repression and the military junta. It’s not been prepared to recognize the reality which is that the great, overwhelming majority of abuses and, as Reza said, even the genocidal acts have been taking place against the Rohingya Muslims and that’s what should be of concern to the West.Also, currently, with the political changes that have taken place, the West is more concerned to secure trade deals and inroad into the economy -- Burma is a very rich country, has a lot of resources -- and to sign deals for military and arms equipment. So, they’re not that concerned to highlight the abuses and even to recognize the genocide that’s taking place with Rohingya Muslims.
Had this been Darfur or Rwanda, I’m pretty sure that the United States and the United Nations would have been taking action and declaring it a genocide and doing something about it.It happens to be the case that the victims here are Rohingya Muslims, and the perpetrators of violence are Buddhists. As I said before, violence and political violence in particular is almost seen exclusively as a Muslim act and not seen as something that other religions and communities can engage in. Press TV: I’m stuck on this word “indifference” because it shows indifference towards a human life. We’ve seen what these assassination drone attacks have done in Pakistan. There’s a deduction that’s being made here given the US’ double standard of showing, perhaps, this hostility -- maybe even beyond the US, other countries of the world -- to Islam and Muslims. Is that the case? Mohammed: Yes, I think obviously Western policy is based around its self interests rather than purely on the notion of human rights. Estimates are that 20 to 25 thousand Rohingya Muslims have been killed since June. If that would happen anywhere else, possibly that would have gained attention; but it depends on who’s in favor at the time.
What we see is the West very reluctant to highlight the crimes being committed in Myanmar because of this romantic view of the Buddhist state but also because of Aung San Suu Kyi and also the fact that, as the guests have said, some deal may well have been done around trade.What needs to happen, really -- there’s been a long standing campaign by the military and the state in Burma which amounts to genocide, and there are plenty of Muslim nations who sit at the United Nations, they need to start to move charges of genocide against the leaders of the Burmese state, and that includes any democratically elected politician. GMA/HJL