Gambia opens arms to Rohingya’s Muslims

Rohingya migrants, who recently arrived in Indonesia by boat, queue up as they wait to have their identification recorded inside a temporary compound for refugees in Aceh Timur regency, Indonesia’s Aceh Province May 21, 2015 (Reuters Photo)

Gambian government has expressed its willingness to help and offer possible resettlement for Rohingya Muslims from Arakan while Myanmar continues to deny their citizenship and forces them to migrate.

“It is sacred duty to help alleviate the untold hardships and sufferings these fellow human beings are confronted with” said the Gambian government in a statement released on May 19.

Expressing deep concern about regarding the migrants stranded at sea, Gambia called on Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to assist relocating the migrants to Gambian refugee camps.

Gambia also urged “all countries with a conscience” to help provide migrants who are adrift with humanitarian aid, including tents, beds, blankets, medicine and food. Its people having to live on 1.2 dollars a day, the tiny West African nation Gambia is governed by Yahya Jammeh who seized power in a 1994 military coup. On the matter of the “resettlement” of Rohingya Muslims, US Department of State spokeswoman, Marie Harf, also said that the United States is prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable refugees.

Speaking at the press conference held in Washington Harf stated that they were “prepared to take a leading role in any multi-country effort organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)” for the resettlement of the migrants. Talking about the abandoned Rohingya Muslims with Malaysia’s Prime Minister Necip Tun Abdürrezzak, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey is ready to do its part and help deliver aid to the migrants. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also pledged to provide 1 Million dollars for humanitarian aid to The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) International Organization for Migration (IOM). Malaysian Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi has called for a meeting with Thailand to address the plight of the migrants, in addition to finally reaching an agreement to provide temporary shelter for the migrants on May 20.

Since the announcement about 900 refugees have been rescued by Indonesia. In addition to Gambia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and the US, a group of Filipino Muslims also announced on May 19 that they would gladly welcome Rohingya “boat people” if they were to land in the Philippines.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims have been displaced and considered stateless. Myanmar has not granted any rights for its Muslim community and continues to violate their basic human rights through oppression.

Almost 140,000 people out of its total 1.1 million Muslim community have been displaced as a result of clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012. Myanmar terms the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim migrants as “Bengalis” and insists that they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, despite the fact that most have lived in the country for generations.

– Daily Sabah

2 thoughts on “Gambia opens arms to Rohingya’s Muslims

  1. Aung San Suu Ky ... says:

    In a genocide silence is complicity, and so it is with Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s desperate Rohingya community. The Burmese government’s ongoing persecution of the Rohingya has, in the last two years, reached a level so untenable that the Rohingya are faced with only two options, to remain and risk annihilation or flee. The current exodus of those seeking asylum is just one manifestation of genocide.

    Genocide is a process built up over a period of years involving an escalation in the dehumanisation and persecution of the target group. Inside Burma, the Rohingya have been subjected to decades of stigmatization, violence and harassment.

    In 2012 the persecution entered a new and more devastating phase. Organised massacres left over 200 Rohingya dead, hundreds of homes destroyed and the displacement of 120,000 people into what can only be described as detention camps. A further 4,250 desperate Rohingya live in a squalid ghetto in Rakhine state’s capital Sittwe. The Burmese state, without any challenge from opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya, allowed hate speech to flourish, encouraged islamophobia and granted impunity to perpetrators of the violence.
    Read more:
    Harrowing stories emerge as Burma boat people are cast adrift
    Myanmar migrants abandoned at sea ‘drinking their own urine’

    In October 2013, in an interview with Mishal Husein, Aung San Suu Kyi claimed that the 2012 violence was not ethnic cleansing but the product of ‘fear on both sides… it is not just on the part of Muslims but the Buddhists too. Muslims have been targeted but also Buddhists have been subject to violence’. Our research makes clear that to equate the suffering of the Burmese with the suffering of the Rohingya is risible.

    The Rohingya have now faced what genocide scholar Daniel Feirestein describes as ‘systematic weakening’, the genocidal stage prior to annihilation. Those who do not flee suffer destitution, malnutrition and starvation, severe physical and mental illness, restrictions on movement, education, marriage, childbirth, livelihood and the ever present threat of violence and corruption. The Rohingya have been physically and mentally weakened, forced into communities broken by persecution and stripped of agency and human dignity. The expulsion of Medecins Sans Frontier, the denial of emergency healthcare and the regulation of humanitarian aid are all designed to further systematically weaken the Rohingya community.

    As the desperate plight of the Rohingya, stranded on the boats in the Andeman Sea, is broadcast around the world, questions are now being asked as to why Aung San Suu Kyi has remained so conspicuously silent. Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week

    Electoralism is part of the answer. Aung San Suu Kyi is an ambitious politician, who has set her sights on one day ruling Burma. The entire Rohingya population has been disenfranchised, ahead of elections to be held later this year, and thus they hold no electoral power. It is true that to speak out against the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya is likely to lose her many votes among the Burmese Buddhist majority, but it might not. She once held enormous moral and political capital and had the chance to challenge the vile racism and Islamophobia which characterises Burmese political and social discourse. Many Burmese human rights activists and their followers would have listened, may have learned, and may have begun to question the institutionalised racism which impacts negatively on all Burmese. This was never to be on Aung San Suu Kyi’s political agenda. In December 2014, it was reported in the Washington Post that she had said, ‘I am not silent because of political calculation, I am silent because whoever’s side I stand on there will be more blood. If I speak up for human rights, they (the Rohingya) will only suffer. There will be more blood’. Political calculations aside, The Rohingya are on a freeway to destruction. There has been blood, there is blood, and there will be much more blood if the Burmese government is not stopped in its tracks.

    If we wait for Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against this genocide, there will be no Rohingya.

    This article was co-authored by Grace Spence Green, an intern at the International State Crime Initiative.

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