Burma Times Editorial, April 02, 2015
“Rohingyas are involved in all crimes on the border,” the colonel roared, “they are involved in drugs smuggling, human trafficking and all other crimes. If they continue to enter Bangladesh, society would collapse.” The commander of the BGB Cox’s Bazar sector Colonel Md Khalekuzzaman was not opining his thoughts in private, he was speaking at a very public meeting in the border town of Teknaf.
Others joined in his tirade. Former parliamentarian of the area Md Ali, mayor Md Islam and Union Parishad Chairman Nurul Alam were among the loudest attackers of the Rohingyas, a community branded as one of the most persecuted in the world. Even journalists were present as participants in this anti Rohingya conference on March 30, 2015. Their views were endorsed in some of the local newspapers the next day.
The next day, Indian police arrested four Bangladeshis in Punjab for raping a 71 year old nun. Earlier a Bangladesh man was beaten to death by a crowd in Nagaland for committing rape.
Now imagine a situation where an Indian army officer and a politician cries out that Bengalis are raping Indian women. Then the next day Indian newspapers report the incident supporting the speakers.
Such a scenario would have prompted very loud protests from Bangladesh to say the least and rightly so. Burmese Muslims, staring down the barrel of the gun don’t have the luxury to protest at such matters.
Many in Bangladesh are themselves guilty of stereotyping a foreign community as criminals. The very word Burmese or ‘Burmaiya’ in the local dialect is used to refer to a criminal. Politicians, security officials, journalists everyone has created the aura that Rohingya Muslims are all criminals. It would have been understandable if only the local politicians and media, not known for their high standards in their respective fields indulged in such acts. Unfortunately many respected politicians and journalists are also guilty of portraying the hapless refugee community in a negative light. Such a bad reputation in a neighbouring country where the Burmese Muslims seek refuge only gives impetus to the ethnic cleansing machinery of the Burmese regime and Buddhist nationalists.