Among the unjust borders that the western powers drew after World Wars I and II, the border between Arakan and South Thailand is among the cruelest. The Muslims of Rohingnya were cut off from the Malay Muslims of South Thailand, as well as the Muslims of Malaysia and Bangladesh.
Placed under the political authority of Rangoon, then the capital of Burma, the Arakans entered a long period of neglect and oppression. Finally, after many years of immense suffering, these people have begun to take small boats to the open sea in hopes of landing somewhere as the political, economic, and religious refugees that they are. They have been refused everywhere.
No one wants them. Countries who claim to represent Muslim people do not want them, thus proving that there is NO SUCH THING as a Muslim ummah. The Arakans are applying now for the most they can hope for, that is, Temporary Refugee status, until other countries can be found to take them in. Indonesia is said to be considering their application to land in Aceh temporarily.
Myanmar ignores them completely, saying they are the problem of Bangladesh. How the Myanmarese fascist rulers can get away with such a blatant lie is incredible. The border defended by the United Nations clearly places these people as a Muslim minority in the Buddhist state of Myanmar, formerly Burma, and nowhere else.
If Myanmar doesn’t want anything to do with them, they must give that part of their territory away to another country. Instead, the Burmese are driving them away, forcing them to become “boat people” at the mercy of rape, robbery, and drowning or starving in the open sea.
Suppose the Indonesian Foreign Minister, who is already on record as having NO INTEREST in Muslim issues, does grant temporary asylum to these people. Even so, some other country, presumably non-Muslim, must be found to take them, or else they will be cast out yet again, to die unwanted and without any country to call their own.
What did these Muslims do to deserve such treatment at the hands of their fellow Muslims, not to mention the overwhelming evidence of rape and pillage at the hands of the Thai authorities? They have never fought a war, nor do they sit on top of any proven deposits of oil or other valuable minerals. And perhaps THIS is why no one wants them – they are truly among the “have nots” of this world.
As were the Muhajirun who followed our beloved Prophet (s.a.w.) to establish their own city-state in Medina in the first years of the Hijrah calendar. At least then, there was a Prophet of God to teach and protect them. Evidently, the Muslims have totally lost their spirit and do not care to intervene in the tragic deaths of so many of these “boat people”. What would the Prophet (s.a.w.) do now, seeing the plight of this community of Muslims? Undoubtedly he would weep. He never feared to show his grief, either for the deaths of his own children or for the danger of the hellfire for his Ummah. And that same hellfire looms close to us all now, unless our elected authorities and leaders do SOMETHING to rescue the Arakans Muslims. And do it NOW. Or else their so-called ummah may perish finally and forever from this earth.
Azril Mohd Amin is the vice-president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and a lawyer.