Nationality More Important Than Ethnicity In Burma

Nationality More Important Than Ethnicity In Burma

(Rohingya Roundup in Burma)
Jack Lee

(Part of The Darkness Visible series)
In the 1930’s Jews in Nazi occupied Europe were more than accustomed to hearing the call for their “papers”. This demand was a way for Gestapo to identify their targets and place the Jews under police scrutiny. In the end this demand would lead to millions of Jews being rounded up and sent off to death camps. For these victims of the Holocaust the call for one’s “papers” was a death sentence.
Today in Burma the military Junta has gone about the call for Rohingya “papers” in a different way. For decades now the Rohingya have not been allowed to claim citizenship in Myanmar. They have however had to go to the local authorities and document their intent to travel, give birth, or even the death of a family member. The paper work that piles up documents the peril of being a Muslim Rohingya in a Buddhist dominated country. It also makes clear that the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations all the way back to the start of the Burmese government. And for that the Burmese Junta must demand the papers of the Rohingya in a different manner than the Nazi Gestapo did in Germany.
The official claim of the Myanmar government is that the Rohingya are “invaders” that came from Bangladesh. The proof that lay in the stacks of official Myanmar records tells the story differently. Thus the Burmese military and police have come up with a method to alter that past. Instead of relying upon the official paper work, Burmese officials are now relying upon testimony derived through torture and repressive tactics that put the victim in duress.
Every since the first roundups in June of this year the Junta have used interrogations of helpless victims to force Rohingya to sign documents stating that they are Bengali. This forced testimony and signed document is then used to justify the deportations or the endless imprisonment that the victims now face. It also helps further the genocidal ambitions of ethnic cleansing that Myanmar is currently engaged in.
In the last few weeks these methods have been ramped up. The victims are never heard from again. If they do not sign they do not get to see their families again. If they do not sign they are lost to the illegal prisons of the Burmese Junta. And if they do sign… they are deported or thrown back in prison. Their signature is simply used as a tool in the arsenal of the Burmese authorities. Their papers are used to justify the extreme measures taken by the Myanmar government to “end civil unrest”.
There is no way of telling for sure where the Rohingya victims of this tactic end up. Some activist have claimed that the Burmese government is simply exterminating those who will not sign. Though hard to believe, it is plausible when one thinks back and looks at how the Burmese military willingly opened fire upon unarmed Rohingya fleeing the mobs. Others claim that the prisons in which they are held are nothing more than concentration camps in which starvation and disease is meant to kill through attrition. Once again, hard to imagine in this day in age… but very plausible when one looks at Burma’s human rights record.
We can not say with any certainty how many Rohingya have been killed in Burma as of today. We can say, however, that the Rohingya in Myanmar now face total annihilation by the Burmese government. Through tactics like this one mentioned here the Myanmar government is pushing for the removal or complete extermination of the Rohingya. The government of Burma is receiving absolutely no pressure from the outside world to end their campaign of genocide. And without that pressure, the million plus Rohingya face certain death.

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