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Villains of circumstance

  • Published at 01:24 pm August 30th, 2017
Villains of circumstance

No one ever chooses to be radicalized

Oppression comes in many sizes and shapes. In fact, if we go by the current definition of the word being hollered about by Western progressives, the examples would include things such as using the wrong pronouns to refer to someone of some gender or another.

Oppression, it appears, is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps. But I doubt anyone would disagree when I say that there is nothing “eye of the beholder” about what the Rohingya are going through in their own homeland right now. With the way the Myanmar army is cracking down on the hapless minority group, their actions can be called nothing short of an ethnic cleansing.

Subjective oppression be damned, when there’s an objective genocide in the offing. Better-informed fellows than I have already said whatever needs to be said regarding the sheer insanity that is going on in the Rakhine State -- about how toothless the UN has been in doing anything about it, about how Aung San Suu Kyi possibly took Bono’s advice to “Walk On” a little too seriously.

There’s been little in the way of anything new to shed light on … up until now, of course.

A little less than a year ago, the pogrom seemed to have been just that -- a one-sided battering of a minority ethnic group at the hands of a military junta. But the Myanmar army’s ceaseless attempt at an ethnic cleansing is now witnessing the closest thing to a push-back. While it remains to be seen exactly how genuine militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s claims of being an army fighting for the salvation of the Rohingya are (nomenclature can only go so far, I’m afraid), the trouble they have stirred along the borders and elsewhere leave little scope for justification.

If the Myanmar government is to be believed, apparently the militant group has been deploying child soldiers in the recent spate of violence that was sparked in the Rakhine State. Exactly what kind of salvation requires a child to bear arms? But, of course, it’s the government’s word against the insurgents’ -- a group that is, curiously, being led by a bloke who has a history with the Taliban, I might add.

But is anyone surprised?

No one ever chooses to be radicalized, it’s only when the chips are down that picking up a gun and raising hell starts to make more sense than waiting for the world to finally say “enough is enough.” And we, Bangladesh, were supposed to be a part of that collective.

There’s no denying that our country has done its fair share in helping these persecuted people -- even though that help basically equates to unhooking a fish from a line and throwing it onto a desert island shore -- but our government’s recent proposal of a joint operation with Myanmar in “dealing” with the insurgency is disappointing at best and worrisome at worst, since an influx of radicalized refugees helps neither country.

High on their recent victories over Islamists on our own soil, our leaders seem to have lost sight of what exactly it means to be a people oppressed by its own state. The Rohingya, the ones that are not calling for bloody revolution, have done nothing to deserve this fate. Stuck between a state that would rather see them dead than call them countrymen and bloodthirsty Islamists to whom they are nothing more than canon fodder for their crusade, they face becoming the villains because of circumstances they had no part in influencing.

But what can anyone do? Diplomacy has obviously failed miserably, and pleading to Ms Suu Kyi’s sense of self awareness seems to be a fool’s errand. Could a potential answer lie in (whisper it with me now) “intervention”?

Sure wouldn’t be the first time in the history of the world.

Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be followed on Twitter @moreanik.

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