Malaysia must make a stand

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

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

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