What’s happening in Burma?

While the general public of the world is busy or being kept busy with recent and ongoing international events such as the Euro 2012, Eurovision and the 2012 Olympics etc, very little of the community have been noticing the crucial stories happening around the world. Major media companies from around the world have come to London this year to give viewers the best coverage of the games, so we can guarantee that the world will know who won gold, who came first and who came last.

Meanwhile, Myanmar/Burma in Asia faces a humanitarian crisis. Those that have paid close attention for the past few weeks may have heard a slight mention of what this crisis is about. But for those who have no clue about it all, unfortunately, are in the majority.

So what is happening in Myanmar? For the past few weeks, there has been an outbreak of hostility and bloodshed between Buddhist nationalists and minority Rohingya Muslims in the land. Several have been killed as a result, 80 dead and 54 injured officially, but the true toll is feared to be much more.

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have tried to flee the violence into Bangladesh but have been refused entry and made to turn back. “They have been chased away; we are keeping our eyes open so that nobody can enter Bangladesh illegally” says Bangladesh police official, Jahangir Alam.

Rohingya Muslims crying after hearing that they cannot enter Bangladesh to seek refuge from the violence.

Amnesty International has reported that Rohingya Muslims are being targeted and attacked by the majority Buddhists nationalists, the attacks include acts such as killing, rape, and physical abuse.

Sadly, this is not the only time when media has turned a blind eye on such a story. How many know about the US soldier who went on a vicious killing spree after suffering a mental breakdown, and killed 16 innocent Afghani civilians in their sleep? Who knows about Tarek Mehanna and the sentencing statement he gave before being given 17 years in prison, for allegedly being supportive to Al Qaeda and conspiring to “murder” US soldiers in Iraq? Many don’t even have a clue about what is actually taking place in the Middle East or what the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is all about.

A major portion of the blame, I think, has to go to the big media outlets that choose which stories should receive a good coverage or not, mainly because of biasness, political strategy etc. The use of contradictive terminology and words in the media to gloss over what is in most cases a horrific act or idea, and making them sound “nicer”, so viewers/readers are not put off. This adds more to the confusion. Who knew that ‘enhanced interrogation’ was actually just another form of torture subtly introduced by the help of the media. And that ‘collateral damage’ basically means the cost of innocent lives at war in a foreign land. There are many more terminologies like these; one only has to look them up. However, part of the blame should be on us as well. As citizens and concerned human beings, we should seek out these stories and question the media and the government, why haven’t these stories been given much importance?

The position of the Rohingya people is becoming more and more insecure and unstable as the days go by, and something should be done to help them. How we can resolve this violence may be in question right now, but the first step is to make people aware of what is happening – to acknowledge that this is an issue that concerns the global community. Sitting quietly hoping the violence will calm on its own, or that the Myanmar/Burmese government will sort the problem by themselves is simply not practical thinking.


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