Rohingya — the Palestinians of Asia by Ramzy Baroud

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It is no surprise that Palestinians find numerous similarities between South Africa’s apartheid regime and Israel’s unmistakable apartheid practices. But the Myanmarese-Israeli connection is rarely discussed. In Tablet magazine, Joe Freeman, wrote the article: ‘In Israel’s earliest days, the place its leaders felt compelled to visit was Burma.’

High-profile Israeli visitors, who began making their pilgrimage to Myanmar decades ago, included Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir. At the time, the Myanmarese government was convinced that “Israel was the quintessential example of the egalitarian social and economic order that he wished to establish”.

The truth, however, lies in how both countries treated, and continue to treat, their minorities. Following the ethnic cleansing of the original inhabitants of Palestine, Israel immediately went on to fashion an alternative and particularly biased narrative about how it was established, and to deny Palestinians any historical link to their homeland. The Myanmarese did just that too…

The opening up of Myanmarese politics in recent years spelled the doom for the Rohingya, because the burgeoning ‘freedom of speech’ within the region empowered Buddhist nationalist factions that promoted genocide against the defenceless Rohingya. This incitement resulted in the killing of hundreds, the burning of entire villages and the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya Muslims in jungles and refugee camps. Hundreds perished at sea as they tried to seek salvation in countries that had no sympathy for poor, stateless people.

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