Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"--a little Myanmar within"

An 8/9 report in the Jakarta Post that President President Yudhoyono of Indonesia is supporting humanitarian aid to Rohingya as well as the protection of their rights brought a letter from a reader in West Java reminding the President (and his fellow Indonesians) of their country’s continued abuse of their own minorities, and urged the President to “sort out religious problems in his own backyard first before meddling in religious affairs which are not his own. Do not forget that we have many religions in Indonesia. Our first president Sukarno and Mohamad Hatta did their utmost to uphold Pancasila and succeeded but you have failed to do so.”
This letter to the editor elicited this comment on August 11:

I feel deep sorrow when I read news about some leaders/Ulema crying for persecution of some distant Muslim Brothers completely forgetting how they are treating their minorities or even those who they do not agree with. Unfortunately every Muslim country has a little Myanmar/Burma within.

I think we could alter that last phrase to read “every country,” and we should all remember the gradual normalization of our own nations’ systematic persecution, abuse, and genocide of parts of our societies that at one time or another we wished to eliminate.  Just because the US’ attempts to systematically eliminate its own indigenous groups happened over 150 years ago does not mean that these actions were not as horrific as what is happening in Myanmar today.  We all have “a little Myanmar within,” and we need to remember this when we are urging new governments to tackle issues that we still, after all this time, have not ourselves adequately addressed.

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