Friday, August 7, 2015

“It’s reasonable now to talk about genocide prevention in Myanmar.”

The New York Times hasn’t let up on the Rohingya crisis, and it’s taken a nasty turn--as if it could get any nastier.  (Rohingya Women Flee Violence Only to Be Sold Into Marriage, August 2)
In true malicious-government fashion, Myanmar has forced so many Rohingya men to flee to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia that a new and nefarious demand has cropped up—Rohingya men want to start families where they live and so are paying traffikers (again, Rohingya) who see a good market and trick young women into traveling out of the country with their families—only to be sold to the Rohingya men.

For the Myanmar government, this is perfect.  Where have we heard this refrain before: “See? It isn’t our fault—they’re doing it to themselves.”  East Timor, Aceh . . . sound familiar?  You dehumanize a population to the point where it is impossible to act for the good of the group; everyone is relying on blind and desperate instinct, and morality falls away. As Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights says, “It’s reasonable now to talk about genocide prevention in Myanmar.”  And Rohingya activist Nur warns, “If this keeps up, in 30-40 years there will be no Rohingya culture.  Everything is shutting down on us.”

Ambiya Khatu, center, with her niece and mother, married a man in Malaysia who paid $1,050 for her release from smugglers. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

“I was allowed to call my parents, and they said that if I was willing, it would be better for all the family,” said Shahidah Yunus, 22. “I understood what I must do.”
She joined the hundreds of young Rohingya women from Myanmar sold into marriage to Rohingya men already in Malaysia as the price of escaping violence and poverty in their homeland.

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