JEDDAH: FOUZIA KHAN
Sectarian violence has gripped western Myanmar after 10 Muslim scholars were killed by a Buddhist mob on June 3. The Rohingya Muslims living in the Kingdom are worried about their homes and families in the state of Rakhine.
Rakhine is home to Buddhist ethnic population and a large Muslim group. This includes the Rohingya, a stateless people described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya as foreigners and not one of the nation’s ethnic groups, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants and view them with hostility. For the past 60 years they were not given their rights.
Almost 500,000 Rohingya are living in the Kingdom at the moment and they have appealed to the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the organization for human rights, the Red Crescent, the Saudi government and others to interfere in the matter and protect the Rohingya.
“We are worried about our Muslim brothers and sisters in Rahkine. We, Rohingya, never shared the same rights as Myanmar nationals. We’ve lived our lives as refugees in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” said Mohammad Noor-ul-Islam a scholar and teacher, who has been living in the Kingdom for the past 25 years.
The situation is very critical and not favorable to Muslims in Rakhine. “The Myanmar government sent troops after the clashes, but we fear they will not provide any security to Muslim homes and families. The soldiers are also Buddhist Magh and will side with the Magh in the area,” said Noor-ul-Islam.
He pleaded with world leaders to put pressure on the Myanmar government to send Burmese soldiers from Yangon and remove the Magh soldiers from the area if they want peace and prosperity. Noor-ul-Islam also appealed to the UN to open an office in the area to monitor the situation.
“We request that the Saudi government and all the world organizations to put pressure on the Myanmar government for the security of the Rohingya, facilitating them with food and security on the basis of humanitarian rights.
We would also like for human right departments and military camps to have direct contact with the Myanmar government instead of going through the Maghs,” said Maulana Mohammed Younus Al-Arakani, another Rohingya living in the Kingdom.
“We want justice for our people, who have been suffering for the past 60 years,” he added.
Hafeezur Rahman has lived in the Kingdom for the past 20 years. He has an elder brother and sister living in Rakhine state and said the situation is becoming worse every moment.
“There is no communication system, no electricity and food. People fear death and hunger. Mobs are killing and looting the shops and Muslims are not allowed to go out, because of a curfew,” said Hafeezur Rahman.
Maulana Saleh Ahmed Akther Zaman said the media could go anywhere in the world but not to the Rakhine Muslim area. There is no TV station, nor are journalists allowed to report here.
The Rohingya people in Saudi Arabia also appealed to the world organizations to send independent journalists to the area, so the Myanmar government could not censor any information.
According to the UN, about 750,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar, mainly in Rakhine. Another one million or more are thought to live in other countries.