Sharing The Plight Of The Rohingya

Part 1 by Dr Nabilah Ali

The International Conference of Rohingya 2017, held between the 14th and 16th of March in Putrajaya, a joint effort by the Institute of Public Security of Malaysia (IPSOM), Amal Foundation of Malaysia (Yayasan Amal Malaysia), International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and International Federation for Relief & Development - Malaysian chapter, recently concluded with the theme, "Plight of the Rohingya : Searching for Solutions."

I was privileged to listen to a very enlightening talk by Tun Khin, the President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, a Rohingya human rights activist.

The advent of Islam in Burma goes back a long way in history, as early as the 8th century. Especially in the Arakan state, the people embraced Islam in droves and there was even an Islamic caliphate for nearly three centuries, as evidenced by 15th century Arakan leaders using Islamic titles and coins with Islamic inscriptions.

Tung Khin himself narrated his family's history whereby his paternal grandfather, a British-educated Rohingya was a parliamentary secretary in the newly independent Burma.

Barely decades later, his grandson is deemed an illegal immigrant, stripped of his identity and citizenship by the tyrannical government of the day, despite being born and bred in what is now called the state of Myanmar.

What then if the Rohingya do not have that piece of paper?

The absence of that crucial piece of document precludes them from pursuing higher education, with very few even having secondary school education. It prevents them from voting in elections, from owning property, restricts them from working and even their movements from one village to another.

As illegal immigrants, they are denied easy access to food, health facilities and even face difficulties when wanting to tie the knot. They have to apply for permission to marry with some even waiting for five years for this to materialize. Even when the application is approved, it comes with a clause.

The couple have to agree to not have more than two children.

The current government is fearful that the number of Rohingya will increase as their fertility rate is higher than the main, dominant Myanmar race.

In fact, many Rohingya are languishing in prison for marrying in secret.

Even more shocking is the notion that the Myanmar authorities have this vision of a Myanmar state with only one race and one religion. Mind, this is a country documented to have 136 different ethnic groups, including the Rohingya.

Hence, the other minorities present in Myanmar are also starting to feel the heat, but not to the same extent as the Rohingya.

Islam has this to say on this matter:

Refer the Holy Quran, Chapter 49, verse 13 (Al Hujurat):

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other, not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."

May Allah guide us in navigating this multiracial and multicultural society that embodies our beloved Malaysia.




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