Toronto, Sunday September 17, 2017
Tens of thousands of people in different cities worldwide held rallies on September 16 to condemn the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. In Canada’s most cosmopolitan city, Toronto, there were two separate rallies a few blocks from each other.
While huge crowds attended both, unfortunately the organizers failed (or refused) to coordinate to hold a joint rally making an even bigger impact.
The rally at Queen’s Park was larger of the two because its call was given earlier on Facebook. The organizers were a couple of young people. Most attendees were disappointed because the organizers seemed to be more interested in promoting themselves rather than the cause. Taking selfies seemed to be their favorite obsession.
The other problem was that a number of speakers addressed the rally either in Urdu or Arabic. This was a huge mistake. Most of the people in attendance understood neither. Besides, the few media persons were left scratching their heads as what was being said.
The other rally called for by the Burma Task Force was better organized although the attendance there was a lot smaller. Even so, a number of Canadian politicians including Minister for Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland spoke at the rally.
She said what Myanmar was doing appeared a lot like ethnic cleansing to her. She said the Canadian government would ask for independent access to Rakhine state to verify for itself the situation there.
Further, she pledged to raise the issue at the United Nations next week and mobilize the global community to help bring about an end to the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims.
Canadian Muslims have been demanding of the Canadian government to revoke the honorary citizenship of Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar. Her conduct has aroused universal condemnation because she has refused to intervene to stop the violence.
Instead Suu Kyi has joined the military thugs in insisting that there are no such people as the Rohingya. She insists they are “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh (calling them “Bengalis”) who must leave Myanmar.
She dismisses the fact that the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for centuries. She has turned out to be as big a racist and bigot as the white supremacists in the US and Canada.
Anwar Arkani, who heads the Rohingya Association of Canada, came to Canada as a refugee from Bangladesh nearly 20 years ago. He has been working hard to raise awareness about the Rohingya issue for many years but found little interest among politicians until the recent tragedy struck.
The Myanmar army killed his youngest sister and her husband last year. Two of his nephews were picked up by the army and have not been heard from since. Anwar Arkani fears the worst: they are definitely dead, he says.
When asked how they were killed, he believes they were buried alive because they were young men.
This is what the Myanmar army does to the Rohingya youth. If they do not spare women and children—women have been raped and young children hacked to death—what chance do the youth have who are seen as potential troublemakers?
The Myanmar regime is committing genocide against the Rohingya Muslims but unfortunately global reaction is rather mute.
Unless the Myanmar butchers are put on notice that they will face war crime charges if they refuse to desist immediately, there is little likelihood that they will stop their murderous campaign.
In the meantime, the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people will continue and would soon be completed. Another group of Muslims will be condemned to a life of permanent refugee status, like the Palestinians.
And if out this new group of refugees some embittered youth emerge to seek revenge, they will be branded as “terrorists”.
The real terrorists are the brutes in uniform in Myanmar, the machete-wielding Buddhist vigilantes and that hypocritical woman, Aung San Suu Kyi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was imprisoned.
The Norwegian committee has refused to withdraw her ill-deserved award despite nearly 500,000 people signing a petition demanding such withdrawal.