‘Women in Black’ is an NGO in Serbia that is well-known for its protests against any acts of violence in the country and around the world.
This time, they decided to show up in front of the Myanmar embassy in Belgrade to protest against the persecution of the minority Rohingya Muslims. This was prompted by the widespread violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar that led to hundreds of thousands of Muslims fleeing their homes.
The Women in Black protesters demanded an end to the persecution and that the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, should return her Nobel Peace Prize as a result of her silence on the subject.
The Rohingya Situation
Burma is a Buddhist country with over 52 million people of which 1.1 million happen to be the Muslim Rohingya who live in the northern part of Rakhine state next to the Bangladesh border. The government has been embroiled in conflict with the Muslim Rohingya who have been pushing for recognition as a legitimate native ethnic minority. The government has however denied the claims and has insisted that the Muslim Rohingya is mainly composed of illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Over the years, the Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to inhumane conditions such as the violence in 2012 that drove 140,000 of them to internally displaced camps. The Rohingya insurgent group has also been waging wars with government authorities and have been blamed for unleashing terror attacks on the Buddhist population.
The recent attacks by the military on the Rohingya Muslims were as a result of the insurgent attacks on police and military outposts in August 2017. As a result, more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee the area in a campaign dubbed by the UN General Secretary as “ethnic cleansing”.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Suu Kyi holds the position of State Counsellor, a position that has been equated to that of a prime minister or the head of government. She was prohibited from being president due to a clause in the constitution (both her husband and kids are foreign citizens).
She has also been on the forefront in fighting for Burma’s democracy. She even won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in 1991 after resorting to non-violent means to end the political impasse that was present in the country.
As a result, Suu Kyi has been on the receiving end of many protesters who are against the killings of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Protesters from around the world have been demanding that she return her Nobel Peace Prize because of her apparent silence on the matter. However, her office has on several occasions come out to shift the blame to the Rohingya insurgents.
Women In Black Protests
The NGO organisation added its voice to the deteriorating situation in Myanmar. One of the NGO’s representatives, Milos Urosevic, wanted Serbia to stop any exports of weapons to Myanmar due to the probability that they might be used to kill the Rohingya Muslims. They also asked the International Criminal Court based at The Hague to launch an investigation on crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Myanmar government.
UN Security Council
The Myanmar situation has prompted the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the issue. This comes after there were wide allegations that the Myanmar government was instigating fake news in order to justify their attack on the Rohingya Muslims. It was unveiled that some of the Hindu Burmese were torching their own homes in order to shift the blame to the Rohingya Muslims.
The Secretary General of the UN was asked to speak in the UN Security Council meeting which was called by seven countries including France and US. However, the situation also took a drastic turn when the Hindu population went to the streets to protest the interference of the UN and other NGOs in their country’s matters.
What remains factual is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been evicted from their homes and more people are dying as time passes by. Some critics have also equated the current attack on the Rohingya as an ethnic cleansing exercise that is bound to have huge ramifications for Myanmar in the near future.