Malaysia must make a stand
RECENTLY, there has been increased coverage of the atrocities committed against the ethnic Rohingya in Myanmar. In its early stages, the violence was carried out by religious extremists with no ties to the government. However, this has taken a turn for the worse as of late with the military getting actively involved.
In October 2016, many mainstream media outlets began to cover the wide distribution of weapons to certain population in Rakhine state and subsequently raising concern of an ethnic genocide in the state.
This fear materialised soon after as we began to see news of gross atrocities being committed against the Rohingyas in the state.
Al-Jazeera described the violence in the state resembles a planned genocide. Other media outlets report that within the period of October to November 2016, 30,000 Rohingyas became refugees with at least 3,500 houses being razed to the ground.
The wanton violence does not discriminate gender or age. Men and women, young and old have all become victims of violence in the state.
It is reported that women are forced to strip before being raped, men captured, tortured and some killed. Images of bodies being burnt or sent to mass graves are trickling out of the country. How can any nation with a clear conscience remain silent in the face of such dehumanising treatment of its neighbours?
There comes a moment that defines the existence of nations; for Malaysia, it is now. With the ongoing media coverage on the atrocities and massacres being committed against the ethnic Rohingya, it is devastating to hear the deafening silence from governments and international agencies.
I remain perplexed at this silence, but I am certain it has something to do with economic opportunities in the country and also other intergovernmental agreements or pacts. If Malaysia were to officially condemn the Myanmar government, it will definitely defy the Asean spirit of respecting our neighbours and non-interference.
However, it is time for Malaysia to prove that it is relevant on the global stage and that she values the sanctity of human life.
We must be head-strong to move against what is popular and do what is right. We have in the past done the right thing as history has shown to us.
When the South Africans were practising the apartheid, we did the right thing by officially condemning the country. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan with all their atrocities, we walked away from the Moscow Olympics.
In the past, we travelled the seas to bring the helpless from Bosnia to the safety of our homes. We stood up against the mighty Russia to state our resolve. So why now, when a group of people in our neighbouring country are being slaughtered, we say nothing?
I and many other Malaysians appeal to the conscience of our elected parliamentarians to stand united in the face of this great catastrophe. So that we, as a nation can stand proud above all others to say that when others were silent, Malaysia protested. When all other nations were standing idly by, Malaysia, with her great principals, chose to stand with the oppressed. Malaysia, regardless of all her internal turmoil chose to make a stand. In unity, we say that human life is sacred.
We implore you to protest this grave injustice. Use our diplomatic channels to express our dissent at this gross violation of human rights. Air our concerns to the United Nations; call upon Asean to issue a statement. Please officially protest this and let it be known that we are not and will never be silent.
In the wise words of William Ralph Emerson: Not gold but only men can make A people great and strong; Men who for truth and honour’s sake Stand fast and suffer long.
Mohd Syukri Ab Rahim Bangi