January 7, 2013
We Will Not Look Away, We Will Scream
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)
As the world neglects the minorities of Myanmar the old Junta continues to deprive many ethnic groups in Burma of their basic human rights. From the Chin to the Karen to the Rohingya the use of forced slave labor, rape camps, and starvation are killing countless minorities every day in the still barbarically brutal regime in Rangoon. Religion has played its part in the butchering of Rohingya (Muslims) and the oppression of the Chin (Christians). But race is the main factor.
The majority of what the Junta calls “Burmese” are Buddhist. They all come from differing ethnic groups and smaller communities. Yet during the brutal rule of communist style leaders and Junta power these groups fused as one. The most important thing to this new ruling class is that the minorities “know their place” in Myanmar’s new “democratic” society.
(Rohingya Boy Suffering From Malaria)
For the Chin, nearly 80-90% Christian, the new Burma is odd in the fact that Myanmar recognizes the Chin people in the fact that they named one of the seven ethnic states in Burma the “Chin State”. Like the Arakan, a people who are accepted by the Junta as “Burmese”, the Chin were apparently given a place in Burmese society. Yet the old Junta continues to force the Chin into slavery to the state as they use rape to keep the Chin in line. Unjust taxation mixed with random denials to property rights makes it nearly impossible for Chin to make a self-reliant life for themselves within Myanmar. Thus the Chin are among the hordes of refugees that annually take to the borders of Myanmar and attempt to flee the ruthless regime once willingly called the Junta.
Meanwhile the Rohingya are trapped on the border with Bangladesh, a fact that Myanmar exploits by calling the Rohingya “Bengali invaders”, with no place to turn. Myanmar now has turned to the method of “forced famine” to starve out the Rohingya who have been forced out of their homes. Many of the starving Rohingya can be found in refugee camps throughout the Rakhine state. These camps are being blockaded so that food and water can not make it inside. Thus creating a famine within the camps while food flows freely just outside the camps.
In addition to forced starvation the Rohingya face common diseases that could be prevented if the Burmese government was not also withholding basic medications from the encamped Rohingya minority. This allows for malaria to spread throughout a camp without warning. The people trapped inside have no access to medications that are often cheap or free when provided by humanitarian groups. However the Junta has made certain that children and women in these camps are restricted in access or forbidden access all together from help from the outside world.
No matter how we look at this. No matter how we try to rationalize this. This is genocide.
When a government attempts to restrict the population growth or drastically reduce it they are engaging in ethnic cleansing. When a government is attempting to kill off a portion or the entirety of an ethnic group they are engaged in genocide. The attempts of the Junta in Burma to bring about a “democratic” society in Burma is not to be praised by people like Barack Obama. This is not an attempt to spread “hope” to an oppressed people in a newly opened up frontier of Asia. This is genocide.
It has been the battle cry of Alder’s Ledge that we might take upon the suffering of others as our own affliction. It is our purpose in life that we might live their pain so that even in the darkest hour they might not be left alone and persecuted by the most evil aspects of humanity. In doing so we can bear witness to the anguish of those who have suffered so that the world may not deny their pain or at worst their very existence.
Our voices will continue to be raised till our throats can suffer no longer… till blood trickles from our vocal cords. Our eyes will forever be transfixed upon the darkest chapters of man so that we might shine a light into the abyss. This is our battle cry. This is our mission.
As 2013 lay before us it is our goal to make our voices so loud that every soul around us knows the pain of the Rohingya. We will keep their suffering at the forefront of our daily lives. As long as there are children and women lingering in death’s chains we will fight. As long as there are Rohingya men being dragged off to their deaths at the hands of barbarians we will cry out. We will bear witness.
Today, Alder’s Ledge, makes only one demand of those of you who are reading this. We ask that you take to your Twitter, your Facebook, and any other social media you have to start sharing these post. We ask that you become a screamer.
A screamer is a person who witnesses genocide and refuses to remain silent. A screamer uses the one weapon our G-d gave to all men and women… his or her voice. In the modern era a screamer takes to social media to effect change in a world where we are all linked by media. A screamer, most of all, forgets his own misfortune and takes up the suffering of others as his own. This is what drives a screamer to act… to scream.
It is time that we all scream as one. It is time to fight.