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Islam and Politics ( 11 Jun 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Part-Time Champions of Rohingya



By Jalees Hazir

June 11, 2015

Though they have been suffering terribly for a while, the Rohingya have finally made it to the headlines. They are the cause of the month, if not the week. Everybody’s shedding tears for them these days, from terrorists and Maulanas to liberals and Marxists. These saviors of Rohingya are not bothered that their impotent mantras invoking Muslim brotherhood, human rights, etc don’t work. They’d like to carry on regardless- until some other oppressed community somewhere else on the planet captures the headlines and their fancy that is.

Of course the atrocities against Rohingya must stop. Raising our voice against such barbarity wherever it happens makes sense as well. The problem is not that all and sundry are showing their concern. The problem is that the bulk of them are doing it in a way that doesn’t help matters at all. If anything, the cyber-campaigns, protests and statements by the part-time champions of Rohingya make it harder for the public to make sense of such gory episodes from around the globe that have lately started surfacing in quick succession.

The various crutches used by the champions of Rohingya to showcase their compassion are mostly misleading. The Maulanas are stoking the fires of prejudice against the Buddhists by turning it into a case of religious persecution of Muslims by the majority in Myanmar. That’s their favorite tool to charge up the emotions of simple folk amongst us and push them towards a free-floating militancy. On the other end of the spectrum, the mouthpieces of the empire would like to bury Rohingya within their blindfolded human rights discourse. Their favorite tool is distraction which they achieve by pointing fingers in every direction but the one that’s relevant. Nobody seems interested in connecting the dots to decipher the primary source of such barbaric violence. Obviously, that is the first step towards making a meaningful effort to end such savagery for once and for all.

Are we then doomed to go around in circles, running like headless chicken to mourn one mass murder after another without identifying the murderer? Without saving the ones we cried for last month, we leave them in the lurch and turn our attention to the latest victims of barbarity. Will we not get tired of constantly shedding tears? Every time we beat our breast for one atrocity or the other, will we not beat it with less feeling each time? Won’t our hearts run out of blood and stop bleeding for the victims of this epidemic of violence that seems to have gripped our world?

Myanmar, Yemen, Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and so many other countries ravaged in recent times by divisive massacres in every corner of the world; are they just expressions of human evil that have nothing to do with each other or are they connected? Is the marriage of identity politics with terror and violence just a natural development or is it being engineered? Is it a case of peaceful populations deciding one fine day to murder their neighbors because they are different in some way, or is it a case of proxies that seek to drown the future of entire societies in a sea of innocent blood?

Who are these violent extremists and how are they sustained? Is it just a coincidence that bands of terrorists have emerged all over the world ready to kill in the name of religion, sect or ethnicity? Do they represent the majority populations or do they terrorize them as well? After all, blaming the Buddhists of Myanmar for the massacre of Rohingya is akin to blaming Muslims for what the ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria. It’s like blaming every Hindu in India for what happened in Gujarat.

So who stands to gain by accentuating divisive identities and funding hatred? Who supports these terrorist groups and provides them the means of violence? Who is funding, arming and training sectarian terrorists to bring down the Assad regime in Syria? Who is propping up the neo-Nazis in Ukraine to kill the Russian-speaking minority? Who is providing weapons to the GCC kings and coordinating their war of aggression against the poor people of Yemen, packaging it as a Shia-Sunni conflict? Ever heard the term divide-and-rule?

It’s not hard to follow the various trails of blood, and the underlying hate-filled politics of identity, to the door of the empire. Identity and terrorism are weapons of perpetual war in the arsenal of the empire and it uses them with a shameless abandon. It is not the Buddhist majority in Myanmar that is killing the Rohingya minority. Scratch the surface a bit and you see the linkages of these terrorists to Aung San Suu Kyi and organizations working under the imperial umbrella on various high-sounding pretexts.

So while one Nobel peace prize winner spreads death and destruction around the world from the White House, another winner looks the other way while her militant supporters murder the Rohingya under her nose in Myanmar. The part-time champions of Rohingya are content with putting myopic spins on their tragedy, drowning us in distractions and obfuscating the identity of the culprit. They would like us to satisfy our conscience by beating our breasts and sharing emotional posts with heart-wrenching images on the social media.

The hollowness of the campaign to save the Rohingya could be gauged by the fact that its part-time champions are hailing Turkish President Erdogan as its hero. He is supposed to be the knight in the shining armor. It doesn’t seem to matter that while he dispatches ships to rescue his Muslim brothers and sisters being massacred in a distant land, he simultaneously lords over the training and arming of terrorists massacring his Muslim brothers and sisters right next door in Syria.

It is not enough to shed tears for the growing number of groups being targeted for mass murder all around the world. That won’t change a thing. We must turn our attention to the imperial dynamics underlying these crimes against humanity. To set things right in the world, we must first understand what is going wrong with it in the first place.

Jalees Hazir is a freelance columnist. He can be contacted at