Ex 23:9 Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of astranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Mat 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The news of a minority Burmese Muslim Bangladeshi group also known as Rohingya being very brutally treated in Burma Rakhine state and even forced to flee via boats is an attrocious act against common humanity. Malaysia and Indonesia each with over 100K of refugees seemed reluctant to accept more despite being of the same faith.
Complicating the matter is that the boats said to be cramped with the fleeing Burmese Rohingyas are also filled with economic refugees – Blangladeshi eager for a new life in Malaysia.
Why Malaysia has become a favored destination? The Myanmar refugees have filled the F&B industry in Malaysia. They are allowed in for religious reasons and instead of chinese cooks and waiters, they now predominate the major eateries in Kuala Lumpur, the capital. If it had happened in Singapore, there would have been an uproar.
We are reminded of similar religiously motivated cleansing in Armenia 100 years ago of Armenian Christians. The ongoing terrible news of the Islamic State (ISIS) marching through the Syrian and Iraqi conflict lands with their harsh and murderous reglious faith activities contradict the Western liberal construction of faith.
The British Liberal Newspapers such as The Independent aren’t much help – pointing to the failure of the Burmese Nobel Laureat Aung San Suu Ski for failing to speak against the Burmese people even to the extent of accusing her silence being complicit. They are avoiding the obvious that this is a religious issue and not only political. They dare not challenge their liberal construction that all religion is about love.
The British and the Americans appear to suffer a selective ammnesia being so vocal yet accepting very few refugees. It was after all a remnant of the colonial pasts where the British had bought in the Rohinyas and used them against the locals. The US is vocal yet gives lip service to accepting the refugees. Malaysia for example had so far accepted over 100K Rohingya refugees whilst US are willing to accpet 1000.
We have well meaning activist calling the Singaporean Government to help but we well know that the same people will no doubt blame the Government for the over crowding, refugees taking away the low paid jobs. We have already very large number of workers from Bangladesh with very vocal opposition even against the location of their housing.
The Rohingya were not native locals although they have been in Rakhine state a very long time through a series of large scale migration from Southern Bangladesh from 1850 to 1950. Therefore, the British made a colonial mess by bringing in many tens of thousands of labourers into an already poor region. causing deep local resentment. The Rohingya just didn’t assimilate.
The British armed the Rohingya during WWII as a buffer against the Japanese whilst fleeing from Burma. It ended up being massacre of 20,000 local Burmese feeding the seed of much historical hatred.
It did not help that when Bangladesh sought independence, the Rohingya asked for the Burmese Rakhine state to be part of the newly formed Bangladesh. In fact, they took over control resulting in military conflicts and thereafter a Jihad movement.
What we have here is a migration of a very different culturally and religious people into a state whereby they eventually became the majority in a large number of areas. It was an overstretch by the Rohingya and their descendents are now paying a terrible price.
At the end, it is an issue of religious conflicts and so they should just send in ecumenical Christians from the Christian Conferences in for an inter-faith dialogue based on their notion that all religion is about love. All the Christian ecumenical Conferences has said was “Mynamar should take care of Rohingya people” rather than “All major religions is about …”. They know it isn’t really true.
The Dalai Lama was more blunt calling upon their faith’s notion of forgiveness, tolerance, compassion. It didn’t help at all and so even the Dalai Lama is now calling upon Aung San Suu Ski to do something which would be politically suicidal and still won’t help the deep rooted complex religious situation.
In Christianty, we love because we are first loved in a much greater measure by Jesus Christ. In reality, Christianity is not about us loving others but about Christ loving us thus making the way for us to love others. We love because it is Christ love working through us in a spiritual faith dimension of appreaciating Jesus death at the Cross. Without resurrection there is no power to love.
Matthew 7:12 talks about the treating each other with love in the context of the summary law knowing full well that the law doesn’t work. A faith that is law based have no power to love. The Law just shows that we are sinners demanding judgement. Hence, we are no different than the Burmese people of faith. We too would have persecuted the Rohingyas. The Law only tells us our sins. Our Saviour is Jesus Christ.
The Bangladesh Gvernment is not helping for not permitting foreign aid to be freely availble to the escaping Rohingya to discourage them from leaving a hell like existence in Burma. They too are in denial claiming that the Rohingya are an issue for the Burmese.
The arch Burma Buddhist monk instigator and nemesis is U Wirathu who has sparked of a murderous mob. The Burmese Government may be turning a blind eye as a rally point for the up coming elections.
Whilst the ping pong continues and Asean bound by non interference in local politics, the situation looks grim for the Rohingyas. The political and religious will in Burma and Bangladesh to resolve the human suffering is not there.
We are reminded of another religiously inspiried atrocities against the Amenian people. The Armenian Holocust by the Ottomon Empire against the Armenian Christians resulted in over 1.5 millon deaths.
The British and Americans with the liberal kind of Christian approach can say alot from far of! They are not really wrong for even Singapore cannot morally reject the refugees if they land on St John Island.
The solution remains a religious solution of how we treat the stranger in our midst. There is also a question whether we should reject people whose religious faith we fear is subject to radicalization. At the end, shouldn’t we treat all people with basic humanity and dignity as we would ourselves be treated if stuck on boat in an open sea. Both the Burmese Buddhists and Rohinyas must come to a place of forgiving each other.
The Armenian Christians managed to forgive and when they came to the US as refugees became key instigators of Christian revival that is still with us today even in Singapore.
Mat 5:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.