Rohingya issue should not create religious enmity
Sun, August 5 2012 23:42 | 1501 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia hopes that the conflict between the Rohingya and Rakhine ethnic groups that has claimed at least 77 lives in Myanmar would not disturb the Buddhist-Muslim harmonious relations.
Photo document of Rohingya Muslims in Medan, North Sumatra. (ANTARA/Septianda Perdana)
"I am grateful and appreciate the assistance and expression of solidarity for the Rohingya."
Indonesia as a predominantly Muslim county should use appropriate ways in channeling its solidarity to help the Rohingya Muslims who are facing discriminatory problems and clashes with their Buddhist Rakhine compatriots.
"I am grateful and appreciate the assistance and expression of solidarity for the Rohingya. I hope that the form of assistance and expression of solidarity would be channeled properly and rightly through consultations with the foreign ministry so that it would reach the target," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said over the weekend.
The president reminded that several cases in the past where assistance and expression of solidarity were provided overseas without coordination with the government. As a result, it created a diplomatic problem which forced the government to step in to solve it.
In addition, the problem in Myanmar involved different religious adherents so that it should be handled in a proper way without causing disharmony between the Buddhist and Muslim communities.
According to Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, the Rohingya ethnic issue has become increasingly felt crucial. Thus, it is hoped it would not have bad impacts on the relations between the Muslim and Buddhist communities.
The problem that befell the ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has claimed many lives. The official report had it that about 77 people were killed.
A media report said however that nearly 650 out of almost 1 million Rohingya Muslims have been killed in a clash in Myanmar`s western area of Rakhine, while 1,200 others are missing.
The Myanmar government does not recognize Rohingya Muslims as its citizens and calls them illegal immigrants although they have been living in the country for decades.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the Myanmar security force is behind the attempt of eliminating Rohingya ethnic group.
According to President Yudhoyono, 77 people had been killed and 109 wounded, while 17 mosques, 15 monasteries and 5,000 houses had been damaged or set on fire during conflicts between the two ethnic groups.
"It is unlike what has been reported so far," Yudhoyono said.
The number of Rohingya refugees in May and June climbed to 53,000 and the number of Rakhine refugees rose to 24,000 because of the escalating conflict between the two groups.
It is old tension between the Buddhist ethnic Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya and now has escalated again at Myanmar`s Rakhine region in July resulting in a series of fires and attacks.
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla who is now head of the Indonesian Red-Cross said the Rohingnya issue is a political problem, which is similar to the racial conflict in Indonesia, involving Chinese-origin people, during the late 1950s.
The unrest has impacted the Rohingya and Rakhine ethnic groups, but the human rights groups have accused police and soldiers of using disproportionately force and arresting Muslim Rohingya people after the riots.
Another report mentioned that nearly 5,000 homes have been torched and tens of thousands of people have been made homeless.
The Myanmarese government considers as many as 800,000 Rohingya people as illegal immigrants, despite the Rohingya advocates` statement that their ancestors had settled in the area for centuries.
For Indonesia, as a predominantly Muslim country, the problem should not create hatred between the Muslim and Buddhist communities.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said religious adherents should give priority to peace when trying to solve a conflict.
The conflict that has taken place in Myanmar should be located in that country only and should not affect other religious adherents in other countries like in Indonesia.
"It should not create bad impacts on the Ummah (Muslim community). Islam and Buddhism have a history of good harmony and have so far maintained peaceful co-existence," the minister said when signing the inscription of the Vihara Ekayana Arama Indonesia Buddhist Center in Jakarta on Saturday.
He expressed hope that the incident which befell the Rohingya Muslims in Myanamr would not escalate into Indonesia.
Religious adherents must put the principle of peace on their highest esteem. The Indonesian people will suffer a great disadvantage if the Muslim and Buddhist communities take the problem to Indonesia and eventually create disharmony in the country.
"I hope the incident would not bring any impact to the country. Buddhists and Muslims must be hand-in-hand in building religious harmony," the religious affairs minister said.
He said that Indonesia must soon take steps so that the bloodshed in Myanmar would stop and not to escalate further.
Monk Dharmavimala hailed the minister`s statement, saying religious adherents should follow what the minister said. It is a good message for the Indonesian Muslims and Buddhists who have built harmonious relations.
The monk said violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar should not be left unheeded. The bloodshed should be stopped and all parties must contribute to the ending of the violence, he said.
In the meantime, Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra said that the Indonesian government can use diplomatic and multilateral approaches in assisting Myanmar`s Rohingya ethnic case.
"Our government should be more active. Use Indonesia`s approach model that is persuasive and inclusive diplomatic approaches to Myanmar who is now under the democratization process," said Azyumardi.
According to Azyumardi, by using persuasive and inclusive approach, Indonesia can play a role without having to set Myanmar aside. "If using the exclusive approach like the Americans by imposing sanctions, it will be ineffective," he said.
On Sunday, thousands of members of the hardline Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) staged a rally in Jakarta asking President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to step in to save Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The demonstrators unfurled banners urging President Yudhoyono to step in to stop the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
"We are going to make an oration outside the palace. We urge the government not to keep sitting still but step in to overcome the problem befalling our brothers in Myanmar," demonstrator Taufik Hidayat said.***1***
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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