The persecution of the Rohingyas — ASEAN’s collective shame.

Everyone knows that by continuously ignoring the plight of the Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma), the governments of the ASEAN nations, ours included, are singly and collectively guilty of abandoning them to a fate worse than death.

Rohingya refugees

Already, the Rohingyas have been rendered stateless, with both the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments disowning them as being mere “illegal immigrants,” conveniently denying the fact that they had been living in those countries for several generations already. In Myanmar, the situation is much more dire — not only are they not considered citizens, they are also continuously subjected to cultural and religious persecution. Also, they are denied access to such basic Human Rights as education, freedom of movement, and basic government services.

Is it any wonder then why the refugees would choose to gamble with their lives, and the lives of their children, and place themselves at the mercy of human trafficking syndicates just to escape their desperate situation in Myanmar?

But now they find themselves in an even worse situation — abandoned by the human smugglers, their boats left adrift at sea. With food and water dwindling fast, the inevitable happened. People driven mad by hunger and thirst fell upon one another, killing their fellow refugees for the remaining supplies.

Normal people, when confronted by such a dire situation, would immediately think of ways to help the victims, and fast.

But, apparently, governments are a different breed. Instead of rescuing the Rohingya, they refused them entry. Instead of towing them to shore, they pushed their rickety boats back out to sea.

“Not our problem,” they said. “We are victims too” (of illegal immigration), they cried.

To which we, their constituencies — the people who voted them into office — can only reply, “governments that do not represent the sentiments of their own people are not worthy to remain in power.” 😦

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The persecution of the Rohingyas — ASEAN’s collective shame.

Call it Burma, call it Myanmar, call it whatever you like…

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… the country effin’ Rocks!

I’ve been dreaming of going to Burma (now officially called “Myanmar,” since 1989) ever since I first met my Burmese friends and heard their stories of struggle under the Military Junta. That was more than 5 years ago. Isip-isip ko nun, “malaki nga ang problema ng Pilipinas, pero di hamak na mas malaki ang problema nila.”

Mas malupit ang naging diktador nila recently kumpara kay Marcos sa kapanahunan nito. Daang-libo ang namatay sa kanila noong Cyclone Nargis (2008); walang karapatang magmay-ari ng lupa ang kanilang mga magsasaka (all land is owned by the State and only “right of use” is granted); sobrang lupit ng kanilang Militar sa pag-lipol sa mga ethnic groups (Rape is being used as a weapon of war, especially sa Kachin State); naglipana ang mga plantasyon ng Poppy Plant na syang pinagmumulan ng Opium; etcetera… etcetera…

Pero marami rin tayong pagkaka-pareho:

  • Mahilig sila sa mga inuulit na pangalan (Noe Noe, Zaw Zaw, Tin Tin, Ni Ni, Ko Ko… at tayo naman may Ging Ging, Let Let, Bong Bong, Bing Bing, Jun Jun…)
  • Napaka-pamilyar ng lasa ng kanilang mga pagkain (di gaya sa Thai, halimbawa, na madalas kakaiba ang dating at presentation)
  • Meron silang babae na “Icon of Democracy” — si Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, habang meron naman tayong “Tita Cory”
  • Relihiyoso rin sila, Buddhist nga lang. So mahilig silang dumalaw sa mga templo at mag-alay sa kanilang mga altar.
  • Mahilig din silang kumanta. Andami ding mga Magaganda (at Pogi, shempre) sa Bansa nila, gaya sa atin. Hehehe…
  • Marami rin silang mga NGOs (both tunay at peke, just like the Philippines)
  • Nagbabasaan din sila tuwing piyesta — sa kanila tuwing New Year, sa atin tuwing Pista ni San Juan
  • At pinapanood din nila ang Dyesebel at Mara Clara! Pero dubbed in Burmese, shempre. 🙂

 

Call it Burma, call it Myanmar, call it whatever you like…