ROHINGYA REFUGEES: BETWEEN RELIGION, HUMANITY AND POLITICS
The current issue involving Rohingya refugees should be viewed comprehensively rather than looking at it as a separate fragmented piece.
The world has been dealing with the issues of Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia and others other than the Rohingya, and all of these issues have triggered an international crisis for not being dealt with in a consistent manner. This will be the case when the issues only highlight their status as refugees as opposed to considering their religious freedom, human rights and political rights.
Previously, it was the issue of the Palestinian that is not yet resolved to this day because of an extremely cruel act of seizing their homeland where they are the original inhabitants. This is done with the sole purpose of establishing a Jewish illegitimate country that had been lost in history. Apparently, the superpowers that are politically influenced by the Zionist intends to re-establish it to carry out the evil agenda of the Zionist. The move has triggered an ongoing and unresolved refugee crisis while continuing the UN’s unlawful treatment of Palestinians to this day.
The issue of Kashmir also continues with complete disregard to UN Resolution to hold a referendum in order to demand the rights of the majority of the people. In fact, it is harshly and cruelly ignored possibly because of the fact that they are Muslims.
On the other hand, the Bosnian issue had to be resolved after they were faced with their defeat owing to the bravery of the people who rose to fight. However, the Bosnians are bound by the conditions set by the treaty that wanted them to implement secular policies to prevent the rise of Islamic politics in Europe.
Arakan is a region of Rohingya Muslims who have been the original inhabitants there for over a few centuries. Even though religious freedom are acknowledged by the international community, they were denied that freedom along with the rights to be involved in politics in a place where they are born and raised.
Islam teaches its followers to protect victims of brutality regardless of their religion, race and skin color even before the international charter was established. Thus, the international community should not tolerate the conduct of the Myanmar government that has restricted religious freedom and political rights to its own people in their homeland. The real step is to prevent ethnic cleansing and the act of oppressing the Rohingya people for religious and ethnic reasons rather than to justify Myanmar’s action by opening the door for further banishment and openly turning the Rohingya into refugees as if to facilitate the wrongdoings.
Accepting immigrants is a temporary and limited humanitarian act that the international community must bear together instead of letting Malaysia handle the responsibility alone in accordance with the international charter.
At the same time, step must be taken to ensure that the Rohingya people are able to return to their homeland instead of openly turning them into permanent refugees without time limit and borders. For example, by providing them facilities so that they will continue to be banished or forced to escape and making Malaysia a transit instead of giving them a real permanent solution. Sooner or later, they might have to surrender their homeland to that cruel regime.
There have been instances of several implementation of political measures such as military missions being sent to deal with the crisis in Bosnia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Why is the same thing not implemented to Myanmar that is more cruel to its own people?
PAS was with BN in addressing the issue of Rohingya refugees even though at that time PAS was in the opposition and BN had its own stand based on religious and humanitarian principles. This is not the same as PH that only depended on Tun Mahathir to speak out at UN’s podium while they were engaged with their internal crisis and waiting for Tun Mahathir to resign.
We need to make a wise decision because among the Rohingya, there are those who are genuinely fighting so their fight for human rights, citizenship and religious freedom should be supported. There are also groups that only want to save themselves without any regard for what happened. The last groups are those who look for opportunities, resulting in social and security problems for the country that accepts them. Aside from that, there are countries that only care about themselves without any shred of humanity, hence leading them to act inhumanely.
Islam has established Fiqh Awlawiyyat and Fiqh Muwazanat which act in accordance with religion, humanity and politics that take into account the rights the refugees are struggling to obtain and the future harm to the country that must be overcome and prevented prior to it happening. Thus, preventing greater harm should take precedence over dealing with refugees who tries to seek opportunity here. It is not due to their struggle to claim their rights but because of self-protection.
In the past, all parties have taken the initiatives including Malaysian NGOs who are always bustling around the border to provide assistance. Therefore, the latest measures taken by security forces to provide necessary supplies while respectfully preventing refugees from entering the country in the wake of the worldwide disaster of COVID-19 pandemic, are a must.
This action takes into account the humanitarian aspect by extending the supply and politely preventing them from entering the country for the sake of maintaining national security. This holds true particularly in extraordinary circumstances at the time of the outbreak when even the districts and villages in the country itself have border control to prevent further outbreaks, regardless of religion or race.
Everybody should not forget that in a normal state, this country often accept refugees and immigrants from the beginning of the colonial period to the post-independence era because of the humanitarian nature of Islam that has become embedded in their culture.
In fact, Islam was more than a century earlier compared to the content of the Declaration of Human Rights 1945-1948 and the 1951 Geneva Convention but they were all talk and no action.
The Quran emphasizes the word of Allah:
﴿وَإِنۡ أَحَدٞ مِّنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ ٱسۡتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرۡهُ حَتَّىٰ يَسۡمَعَ كَلَٰمَ ٱللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبۡلِغۡهُ مَأۡمَنَهُۥۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ قَوۡمٞ لَّا يَعۡلَمُونَ٦﴾
“If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure: That is because they are men without knowledge.” (Surah al-Tawbah: 6)
This is the Islamic concept of refugees regardless of religion and race. For those who are only good at criticizing, they should first look at themselves and study the history of their place of origin and how they respond to refugees and their services to immigrants. Do not simply brag after losing power just like someone who is full of big talk but in reality are worse than the people that they talked about.
ABDUL HADI AWANG
Date: 4 Ramadhan 1441 / 27th April 2020