To The Critics: Rohingya Really Are The Victims

Rohingya refugees wait in a rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh, Oct. 9, 2017.

Over the last year and a half, I have been very vocal about the terrible situation facing the Rohingya (predominantly Muslim) people in Myanmar. During that period and now, most people and most of my constituents have been very supportive of my stance in favour of strong action to defend the fundamental human rights of these persecuted people.

At the same time, I have observed an uptick in negative commentary about Rohingya, from trying to blame the situation on the Rohingya community to even justifying the atrocities being perpetrated. Some of those advancing this contrary narrative are obviously never going to change their minds, because it reflects deep-seated prejudice. But I felt that it was important to write this post all the same, to clarify the situation for those who are watching and wondering what the truth is.

First of all, as a parliamentarian who is involved in human rights work, I have the honour of being able to speak to people with direct experiential knowledge of these kinds of situations. I obviously follow the news on these issues, but my opinions are shaped by independent reports and direct conversations — conversations which in this case confirm what is being said in the media.

Some of the anti-Rohingya commentary is rooted in presumptions about different religions. They associate Buddhism with non-violence, and they associate Islam with violence. These are common stereotypes.

I have a great deal of respect for Buddhists, and I have the honour of serving as the vice-chair of the Canada-Tibet Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. Many people’s strongest associations with Buddhism include the non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people. As it happens, however, there is such a thing as violent extremism within Buddhist communities elsewhere — not just in Myanmar, but also Sri Lanka, where the victims have been predominantly Christian and Hindu.

The problem of violent extremism within the Muslim community is well known, but Muslims can be and often are victims of violence as well, perpetrated by extremists in different faiths, non-religious political extremists, and their co-religionists.

I believe that we must stand up for the innocent victims of violence, regardless of their religious community, and regardless of crimes committed by extremists within their community for which they are not responsible. The Myanmar army has been waging a campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya — that is, they are

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

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