Islamic-American advocacy groups come together for Rohingya Muslims

Protestors gathered in Kansas City last week to call on representatives from the area to address ongoing violence in Myanmar.

Since an attack against border police on Aug. 25, large-scale violence against ethnic Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhist security forces has engulfed western Myanmar.

With conflict centering in the Rakhine state, located between the Bay of Bengal and greater Myanmar, more than 400,000 Rohingya have been forced from their homes, and scores have been killed.

A local insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack that killed eight border police officers and one immigration officer.

The attack is now being used by the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar army, to justify what has been classified as clearance operations in the state.

Satellite imagery analyzed by Human Rights Watch shows that upwards of 210 Rohingya villages have been burned since the outbreak of violence.

A persecuted and unwanted minority in Myanmar, the displaced Rohingya face an uncertain fate due to an ongoing, state-sponsored crackdown and reports that the Tatmadaw has been placing mines along the border with Bangladesh, threatening their right of return when-and if-hostilities cease.

This most recent conflict, one of many that have occurred since the overthrow of Myanmar’s military-controlled government, has received international attention due to the widespread reports of genocide and the large number of refugees.

A statement from the top human rights chief at the United Nations declared that the retaliatory violence undertaken by Myanmar’s security services is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Since the violence began, reports of mass rape, arson, and pillaging of Rohingya villages have been reported by a number of news outlets.

The Center on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR), the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization in America, has coordinated with other Muslim NGOs to organize events across the country to protest the violence.

“We need to stand united against this most recent wave of atrocities, and steadfastly proclaim that ‘never again’ should humanity allow such acts to take place without doing something about it,” said Moussa Elbayoumy, board chair of CAIR-Kansas.

CAIR’s Kansas branch, along with CAIR’s Missouri local office represent roughly 28,000 Muslims in the Kansas City metro area.

They have joined forces with the Islamic Circle of North America-Kansas City, and the Burma Task Force-KC in organizing a protest against the ongoing ethnic-cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar.

On Sunday Sept. 17, around 50 demonstrators gathered in Kansas City Missouri at the Plaza Fountain on West 47th St. to protest.

The rally in Kansas City, and others across the country, called on both Kansas and Missouri’s elected senators to join Sen. John McCain in supporting a Senate resolution that would condemn the Burmese government’s violence against the Rohingya.

Separately, there is an amendment that has been proposed in the Senate that would strip U.S. government funding for Myanmar’s military from the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018, that has received bipartisan support.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s says she is supportive of the recent protest in Kansas City and of Sen. McCain’s efforts over the ongoing violence in Rakhine.

The viability of both measures remains unclear, with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell limiting debate on the defense authorization act, while stating condemnation of Aung Suu Kyi would not be helpful.

Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, spoke out about her government’s tactics after a long period of silence, with pleas directed at an international community that is looking for answers and actions-to remain patient.

Exhibiting confusion, defiance, defense and excuses, her speech was met with fierce backlash, even from fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Since her ascension to power in 2015, when she was elected State Counsellor, the political atmosphere in Myanmar has remained tumultuous at best. With around 135 ethnic groups, many of them armed, Myanmar has been faced with sustained resistance from an array of ethnic groups even before the Rohingya militant attacks.

Despite concerns over her handling of the Aug. 25 attacks, the amount of control Aung San Suu Kyi wields over Myanmar’s security apparatus remains limited.

The national constitution, written by the ousted military junta, bars Ms. Suu Kyi from becoming president, and the military still retains considerable influence over the army and within parliament.

Many strategies about how to mitigate the destruction have been floated since the crisis began.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, suggested the creation of UN enforced “safe zones” in Myanmar to protect the Rohingya.

The international community is weighing options on how best to respond to the crisis.

The distribution of humanitarian aid has been suspended since conflict began at the end of August, and it remains unclear when relief agencies will regain unfettered access to the area.

On the day of the protest in Kansas City, Bangladesh and the UN announced a plan to construct 14,000 new shelters by Sept. 27.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the government of Myanmar’s actions, and many world leaders including United States President Donald Trump have used this past week’s annual UN general assembly to condemn the violence in East Asia, as well.

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  1. Pingback: Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Explained - Islamic Online Community

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