Rohingya and us
In the last few weeks, the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been making the local headlines. Supposedly abandoned at sea by smugglers after a crackdown by the Thai government, these refugees have no where to go. They are crammed on small boats and just left floating at sea.
More than 1600 migrants — both Rohingya and economic migrants from Bangladesh — have landed in Malaysia and Indonesia since Sunday, officials say, after Thai officials began cracking down on human trafficking camps operating in the country’s south near the Malaysian border, disrupting established people smuggling networks.
The crackdown came following the discovery of dozens of bodies in trafficking camps in the jungle.
IN THE ANDAMAN SEA OFF THAILAND — A wooden fishing boat carrying several hundred desperate migrants from Myanmar was spotted adrift in the Andaman Sea between Thailand and Malaysia on Thursday, part of an exodus in which thousands of people have taken to the sea in recent weeks with no country willing to take them in.
Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai government had initially turned away the boats packed with refugees.
It was only after the Philippines government indicated they were willing to accept the refugees that the other government started to relax their stance.
The Philippines has signalled it is ready to take in thousands of migrants who are stranded on Asia’s seas, the first country to offer shelter after its south-east Asian neighbours blocked them from entering.
Manila, a signatory to the United Nation’s refugee convention, said it would help as it denied a local report claiming that the Philippines planned to push back boats carrying some 8,000 people fleeing persecution in Burma and poverty in Bangladesh.
“The Philippines has extended humanitarian assistance to … ‘boat people’ and had even established a processing centre for Vietnamese travellers in the 70s,” said Herminio Coloma, a spokesman for the president, Benigno Aquino.
“We shall continue to do our share in saving lives under existing and long-standing mechanisms pursuant to our commitments under the [UN] convention.”
I have heard conversations along the lines of “They will be a security risk to the country if we let them in” to “It’s karma for what they have done in the past” to even… “Let them die at sea”.
I have to ask…
#1. Don’t each and everyone of us (humans, animals and even plants) have a place on this planet? If so, where is their ‘place’?
#2. What has become of us that we are willing to see people starve and die in the sea? Should we not have compassion and try to rescue them?
#3. Should we not have a bigger heart to forgive and show mercy and love to follow humans?
If this is what our people have become, I fear for our future.
And here’s a bit from Wikipedia about the Rohingya:
In 1982, General Ne Win’s government enacted the Burmese nationality law, which denied Rohingya citizenship. Since the 1990s, the term “Rohingya” has increased in usage among Rohingya communities.
As of 2013, about 1.3 million Rohingyas live in Burma. They reside mainly in the northern Rakhine townships, where they form 80–98% of the population. International media and human rights organizations have described Rohingyas as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, while origin of that term with relation to the United Nations is still unclear.