Sait Demir, an IHH representative in Myanmar, went to the region several weeks ago. Making examinations there, Demir said they were unable to go to Myanmar region and Muslims, which are a minority group in the region, are being subjected to a massacre. He said thousands of Arakan Muslims have to flee their homes due to the ongoing incidents but they have no place to take shelter.
Discussing the possible ways of migration with the locals, Demir said: “When almost 1,500 Muslims were massacred in the past one month, Araken Muslims wanted to take refuge in Bangladesh but Bangladeshi government refuses to accept these people due to political reasons and lack of financial means to accommodate them. The injured that were able to enter Bangladesh can do so illegally. They even have difficulty in receiving a treatment. Mosques are set on fire. Muslims are prevented even from attending the Friday prayers. All the attacks target Muslims.”
“There is hatred against Muslims”
Demir said Muslims villages in the region are also set on fire, adding that the target of all the attacks is Muslims and Muslims are in a very difficult situation.
“Government of Myanmar which wants to take control of Arakan massacres Muslims. Britons needed workers in that region and they brought Muslims from India to Myanmar. Even though they are excluded now, Arakan people are there for centuries. It is the land of Arakan Muslims. Two communities live in Arakan. Local people are comprised of Muslims and Rohingyan Buddhists. There is hatred against Muslims. Since government of Myanmar defends Buddhist nationalism, it does not do anything to Rohingyan Buddhists but attacks Muslims. According to the citizenship law in Myanmar, Arakan Muslims are seen as “settler people”. They are not allowed to work in public institutions. Every child who is born creates trouble for Muslims. Every Muslim has to work in line with the order of the government and for free,” Demir explained.
Working in Myanmar for nine years, Demir said there is the social media behind the rapidly-growing incidents in the country. He said Muslims in Myanmar have been suffering from problems for years but they can make the voices of around 1,5 million Myanmar Muslims heard only through the social media.
According to local sources, the primary goal of the government of Myanmar is to take the clashes in the region under its control. The government has declared a martial law in the region where around 100,000 Rohingyan Muslims have been displaced. As the Bangladeshi government has refused to allow the entry of Arakan Muslims who wanted to take refuge in Bangladesh, Muslims are now giving a life struggle in boats in the rivers between the two countries.
Aid from IHH to Myanmar
Noting that the IHH has been carrying out relief efforts in Myanmar since 1994, Demir said: “We deliver aid to Arakan people. We are now unable to access some areas we were able to have access until a short while ago. There are camps in region where as many as 100,000 people live. There are people living on the hunger threshold. We deliver food, we dig water wells in the region. We make maintenance in camps during the Monsoon rains. We enter the camps and deliver aid. We will deliver a significant amount of relief on the occasion of Ramadan. We will also take some action for the injured and also deliver clothing aid to children.”
Arakan is a southeast Asian region bordered by Bangladesh, Burma and Indian Ocean. Arakan people belong to Rohingya. Two million out of the four million Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge in neighboring countries due to oppressive policies of Burma’s regime.
Burmese Buddhists who were supported by Britons on 28 March 1942 committed a massacre against Arakan Muslims, killing 150,000 of them. Hundreds of thousands of people had to flee their homes due to this massacre. Buddhists in the region carried out attacks in the region in the past, killing hundreds of Arakan Muslims.