Rohingya genocide: Stop criminalizing victims
Md Adnan Arif Salim
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho writes in his bestselling book 'Eleven Minutes' that, "The world enjoys suffering and pain. There's sadism in the way we look at these things and masochism in our conclusion that we don't need to know all this in order to be happy, and yet we watch other people's tragedies and sometimes suffer along with them."
I could not but thinking like that after reading news line on Rohingya massacre. Rohingyas are not even getting the guarantee of life elsewhere since bigots are hunting them even in Bangladesh by using social media. Even some individuals in Bangladesh, are engaged in provocation against the Rohingya community and some are supporting the killing of Rohingyas in an indirect way by writing their 'opinion' full of hate on their Facebook or Twitter account. There are many posts containing hate speeches against the Rohingya community in the Facebook and many of them are infected with hate against certain religion inspired by ultranationalist viewpoint.
Man, women and children have been killed by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist vigilantes in a surge of ethnic violence. Here and there the dead bodies of Rohingyas were buried; when they buried 10-20 bodies, putting two to three bodies in each pit. The graves were allegedly dug on every night in the place of the massacre and bodies are burned by the security force. Al these are just a cropped image from the center of the mass killing mission of the government of Myanmar.
***We may not fix it over night, but one should try to improve by using his individual agency. As a Facebook or Twitter user we should keep it in mind that one should not promote any content which attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease.***
The Guardian reports that, 'In Bangladesh, the refugees from Tula Toli have made camp on hills that were empty just a few days before. Several thousand Rohingya have felled the trees, levelled out the beige mud and erected tents using sliced bamboo frames and black tarpaulin bought in the market. All are hungry, and hundreds mob the rickety open-back trucks that local mosques have deployed to hand out donated clothes and food. For fear of being overwhelmed, volunteers throw shirts and trousers into the heaving crowd as they slowly drive along.'
In many places refugee children are sleeping in the mud in their tents. They have just been rescued, not recovered from the horror of killing. Many lost their father, mother, brother or sister. Family members are killed in front of the other members. In such context they started leaving for a safe place which is Bangladesh. But how safe Bangladesh is for them?
Take the example of a Facebook writer from Bangladesh. Shafquat writes on his Facebook post that, 'The refugee shelters never turned out to be quite the Disney Lands. And finally, refugees from poor and war torn regions, who made their way towards peaceful and often prosperous host countries were rarely the perfect individuals, who could just turn on a switch, and integrate into the larger society like model citizens overnight.' These kinds of statements criminalize the victim and promote a generalized perception. Whether it is right or wrong hate speech spread out only from such thinking.
However, the good thing is that Facebook has started to focus on a number of different groups which have historically faced discrimination in society. Whether they are the representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, and LGBT communities nothing differs. If they faced any content promoting hate, Facebook team make an immediate action to resolve this. They rely on constructive feedback which has received from the users of different races, countries, above all religion.
I could remember a Facebook post regarding the Bihari community which triggered controversy. There was an attack on the 'Bihari' community of the Mirpur camp which was backed by the local political syndicate. The Facebook status which I am referring was full with hearted against the victim community. Such hate speech is really un-expected from any conscious individual. However, recently the same parson, who called 'Bihari' children as a thistle, is now calling Rohingyas as not only as burden but also 'Keute Saper Bachcha' or in other word snake.
In most of the cases such individual who spread hatred are often followed by many Facebook followers and together they normalize the horror of mass killing. But in this context, what should a conscious individual do, while foot solders of killers try to normalize a situation of killing of Rohingya or any other human being?
We may not fix it overnight, but one should try to improve by using his individual agency. As a Facebook or Twitter user we should keep it in mind that one should not promote any content which attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease.
At the same time, in the case of Rohingyas the propaganda machine is very active in social media.
In this case one should be conscious to like or share anything which promotes hate against the victim and there should have an attempt from the authority to maintain a free space for all free from organised propaganda. Perching hatred on social media is creating an unsafe situation for us also.
Writer is a teacher of History at Bangladesh Open University