‘Correction within Myanmar Buddhists needed to end Rohingya sufferings’

Dr S Javad Mazloumi (UNB photo)

Though everybody knows Buddhists as peace-loving people, Iranian scholar Dr S Javad Mazloumi has said a new definition of Buddhism, seen in Myanmar, is one of many reasons why Rohingyas are suffering there and that definition needs to be corrected.

“Everybody knows them as peaceful and peace-loving people. What we see in Myanmar is a new definition of Buddhism,” he told Dhaka Courier in an interview expressing displeasure over the words used by some of their leaders in Myanmar referring to Muslims.

Dr Mazloumi, Deputy for Cultural Affairs, said he had many meetings with Buddhists, Buddhist monks and great scholars in different countries. “Most of them believe they should correct this problem.”

Sharing his understanding with fellow scholars on extremist view in Myanmar, the Iranian scholar said one group is trying to translate the Buddhism in a different way which it is not the common in other countries.

“If you ask them (Rohingyas) why don’t they have the identity of Myanmar, they will answer, they had it but was taken away,” he said as he completed his fourth visit to Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

Myanmar’s Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Thura Aung Ko recently said Rohingyas living in Bangladesh are being “brainwashed” and Bangladesh is not allowing them to return, according to international media.

Earlier on November 27, the Myanmar minister talked about the birth rates among the people of an unnamed religion apparently referring to Muslims.

He said while Buddhists practise monogamy and they have only one or two children but an “extreme religion” encourages having three or four wives and giving birth to 15 to 20 children, international media quoted him as saying in a video published by Radio Free Asia.

Myanmar refers to the Rohingyas as “Bengalis” apparently to suggest that they are from Bangladesh but Rohingyas say they are from Rakhine State of Myanmar. 

Asked whether the Muslim world is doing enough for Rohingyas, the Iranian scholar said, “Surely not.”

He said there should be some practical programmes to help these oppressed Rohingya people saying “making statement is not enough”. “We’re just talking.”

Dr Mazloumi appreciated Bangladesh’s role in supporting over 1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh and its continued efforts on how these vast people are managed in a better way.

Talking about the repatriation of Rohingyas, the scholar, also member of the Iranian Supreme Hajj Committee said Rohingya people should be consulted well as they think the conditions for their safe life unfortunately is not in place.

“Myanmar should guarantee that Rohingyas, once they return to Myanmar, will have peace, security and their basic rights,” he said adding that why should they return to Myanmar when they have a feeling of fear that they might be killed again upon return.

Dr Mazloumi added: “They think conditions are not safe yet.”

About lack of unity, the scholar said the Muslims are divided under different names and titles that actually contributed to increased sufferings of Muslims around the world.

“We’re divided into different groups, different titles, and we cannot help each other. More importantly, when we’re in a challenging situation, we don’t discuss real enemies. We’re losing all,” he said.

Responding to another question, Dr Mazloumi said there is no space of division in Islam though differences might be there. “These differences cannot make us divided. Division is a wrong.”

He said their enemies want the Muslim world to be weak, they try their best, and unfortunately the Muslim world is asleep. “We neglect their (enemies) activities and actions and after a while we wake up, but by this time damage is done.” 

Dr Mazloumi said they are going in a wrong direction as some people gave them the wrong address. “Some people gave us wrong address. We’re going to that wrong direction and losing our power. But unity is the solution for all.”

Comparing the situation in the camps, he said it was very small community when he had first visited Rohingya camps before the latest influx in August 2017.

“The presence of huge Rohingyas in the camps is clearly visible. With many new camps and these huge numbers of Rohingya people can make some problems as they need many things for their life.”

He said Bangladesh is successful in managing these people so far as it is not so easy to distribute aids to these huge people.

The Iranian scholar said the problems faced by Rohingyas have not been solved yet with this little amount of aid though the situation is far better than previous time.

  • ‘Correction within Myanmar Buddhists needed to end Rohingya sufferings’
  • Issue 23
  • AKM Moinuddin
  • Vol 35
  • DhakaCourier

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