17 August 2022

#Black4Rohingya is an annual event reminding us that the genocide against ethnic Rohingya in Myanmar hasn’t ended. Though a million or more have had to flee the barbarity of violent ethnic-cleansing to find refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, their tragedy hasn’t ended.

Myanmar or formerly Burma, as many familiar with that region may recall, is currently in the grip of a military coup. The horrors associated with the military junta has unveiled a catalogue of abuses and gross human rights atrocities. Yet the pitiable uncertainty in the camps of Cox Bazaar hasn’t ended.

Many countries that sought to ignore the tragic consequences of Myanmar’s pogroms against the Rohingya and focused only on the axing and jailing of Aung San Suu Kyi, are now in a dilemma: opposing the military coup without factoring in the rights of the Rohingya exposes their hypocrisy.

South Africa is no exception. Remaining “neutral” barring occasional rhetoric, is not an option. As a country having had to overcome the evils of colonialism and apartheid to usher in the dawn of democracy, we cannot fail to share rays of sunlight on the darkness which has enveloped lives of the Rohingya. Their struggle hasn’t ended.

We, Media Review Network – South Africa take the opportunity to express our solidarity with the Rohingya and commit ourselves to continue advocacy on their behalf.

We also call on the South African Government to ensure that the rights of the Rohingya people are not only protected, but also restored.

The tragedy that befell the Rohingya, has exposed faultlines in international institutions as well as weaknesses in power relations governing the United Nations.

Unless South Africa reasserts its human rights ethos as the foundation of its foreign policy, right to life, honour and dignity for the Rohingya, as indeed for Palestinians, Occupied Kashmir, the Uighyrs in Chinese Occupied East Turkistan (Xingiang) and all oppressed people, will remain a blot on our democracy.

As we commemorate #Black4Rohingya, we do so in unison with their cries for freedom.

Iqbal Jassat
Exec: Media Review Network
Johannesburg
South Africa

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