Persecuted in Burma, Stateless Rohingya Fleeing by Boat

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A large chunk of Abdul Rahman’s home is gone, and so is his oldest son, Shakur. The ethnic Rohingya farmer tore down nearly half his home for scrap needed to secure his son’s passage on a boat bound for Malaysia.

In the wake of bloody sectarian violence last year that left hundreds dead and forced tens of thousands of minority Muslim Rohingya into camps outside the coastal city of Sittwe, Rahman, 52, insists his people are being “strangled” by a Burmese government that does not want them. While foreign donors have supplied basic food rations, checkpoints manned by armed guards prevent the displaced from returning to the paddies and markets their livelihoods depend on. “Even animals can move more freely,” says Rahman.

These days, more and more Rohingya are betting what little they still have on a dangerous journey at sea. Community leaders and boatmen involved in the exodus say the volume of passengers is unprecedented because of enduring tensions and a total lack of mobility inside Burma, also known as Myanmar, where the Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and neglect. The growing sense of despair is borne out by the roughly 1,800 refugees who washed up in Thailand in January. And they keep arriving, on overloaded boats without navigational equipment, despite a voyage that can take up to two weeks. If they’re lucky: of the 13,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar and Bangladesh last year, the U.N. says at least 485 were known to have drowned.

“Now there is just one choice left for us: go and live with other Muslims,” says Sayed Alam, 20, an unemployed shop worker, as he prepared to leave Sittwe, the state capital, with two friends. “There is so much fear in this place.”

The plight of Burma’s Rohingya minority continues to cast a pall on its transition to democracy. Called one of the most-persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denied citizenship though many families have lived in the country for generations.

Written By: Jason Motlagh
continue to source article at world.time.com

10 COMMENTS

  1. James Martin,

    Really? Western governments should have the courage to treat humans like absolute dirt with no rights at all? It’s statements like yours that gives atheism a bad name. As much as I hate religion in general, I hope I always hold myself above the hideous cruelty that your comment endorses. There are very effective strategies of combating religious brainwashing that are spreading slowly but surely through the developing world. They are positive strategies that seek to strengthen human and animal rights. When rights and compassion are emphasized then religion will automatically diminish. The disparity between religious teachings and secular Enlightenment values must be broadcast forcefully throughout the developing world. To think that Muslims are too stupid to understand this point is blunt ignorance. At the end of the day, do you think they want anything different than what we want? Family and friends who live in a safe, secure, fair environment with a chance to earn a decent living and education for their children, isn’t this universal amongst humans?

    As an Atheist who has moved in and out of Muslim society for my whole adult life, I hope I can claim that I have acted with compassion and kindness while standing strong for Atheists, women, children, gays, animals and every gift of freedom that our “rights revolutions” and Enlightenment values have given me here in America. Torture, disenfranchisement, persecution, land theft and all forms of hatred cause Muslims to dig in their heels, develop a persecution complex based on paranoia, and create a mentality of martyrdom worship. In case you haven’t noticed, this is NOT working for us.

    Let’s be strict with our immigration policies as far as limitations in numbers and communication of expectations of their behavior but endorsing policies of cruelty and violence is beyond the pale.

  2. Now that James Martin’s comment has been removed, mine makes no sense to readers. Would it not be of interest to read through a treatment of this topic with all points of view? Although I strongly disagree with his statement, I have to think that a bit of robust discussion is warranted here.

  3. JM’s comment probably violated the terms and conditions. Check for that at the bottom of the page. I didn’t see his comment but that’s usually (though I’ve sometimes forgotten and had to be gently reminded) the reason that comments are struck.

  4. In reply to #1 by LaurieB:

    James Martin,

    Really? Western governments should have the courage to treat humans like absolute dirt with no rights at all? It’s statements like yours that gives atheism a bad name. As much as I hate religion in general, I hope I always hold myself above the hideous cruelty that your comment endorses. There are very effective strategies of combating religious brainwashing that are spreading slowly but surely through the developing world. They are positive strategies that seek to strengthen human and animal rights. When rights and compassion are emphasized then religion will automatically diminish. The disparity between religious teachings and secular Enlightenment values must be broadcast forcefully throughout the developing world. To think that Muslims are too stupid to understand this point is blunt ignorance. At the end of the day, do you think they want anything different than what we want? Family and friends who live in a safe, secure, fair environment with a chance to earn a decent living and education for their children, isn’t this universal amongst humans?

    As an Atheist who has moved in and out of Muslim society for my whole adult life, I hope I can claim that I have acted with compassion and kindness while standing strong for Atheists, women, children, gays, animals and every gift of freedom that our “rights revolutions” and Enlightenment values have given me here in America. Torture, disenfranchisement, persecution, land theft and all forms of hatred cause Muslims to dig in their heels, develop a persecution complex based on paranoia, and create a mentality of martyrdom worship. In case you haven’t noticed, this is NOT working for us.

    Let’s be strict with our immigration policies as far as limitations in numbers and communication of expectations of their behavior but endorsing policies of cruelty and violence is beyond the pale.

    This whole situation is the result of Islamic aggression.

  5. We haven’t removed any comments from this thread.
    The mods

    In reply to #3 by susanlatimer:

    JM’s comment probably violated the terms and conditions. Check for that at the bottom of the page. I didn’t see his comment but that’s usually (though I’ve sometimes forgotten and had to be gently reminded) the reason that comments are struck.

  6. In reply to #7 by Moderator:

    We haven’t removed any comments from this thread.
    The mods

    Then this means James Martin removed his comment himself.
    I did read his comment, and while it lacked nuance, I pretty much agreed with it.
    This after much pondering, believe me.
    James Martin, if you’re there, I think you should post your comment back, after modifying it just a little bit and adding a few disclaimers to protect your ass. :)

  7. In reply to #6 by prabo.bhil:

    The whole thing started because some muslims gangraped burmese women according to BBC. May be because those women were not wearing burqa or hijab.

    And that justifies collective punishment? How do you distinguish Muslim rapes from regular ones?

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