Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine’s speech at Myanmar, Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing protest
Brothers and sisters of a common humanity in which we identify in equalness of creation as preordained by one God of the Universe, the current state of the Rohingya community a people comprising of no more than 1,3 million people in a nation that makes up 15 million is confronting us today, and demands our solidarity call and response.
This community essentially made up of Muslims and to lesser degree Hindus are denied their basic rights to exist as equal citizens they are therefore reduced to less than secondary class citizenship in a world where we plan trips to Mars and a laser beam can deal with cancer. Their plight confirms a disenfranchised identity and a denied self–identification, theirs is a trampled upon rights, as they are made vagabonds and declared vermin by a state that despite its chequered history of pain and challenge clearly has forgotten to remember where Myanmar comes from.
In one of the most illustrative passages of our Sacred Text in the New Testament of Biblical Holy Writ, Jesus the Christ underscores the principle of caring for one another and even those we don’t know, or may not share similar faith or culture – with the account of the GOOD SAMARITAN.
He relates an account of a man that fell prey to the abuse, robbery and savagery of thugs on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem (a dangerous route at least in first century expression), the encounter introduces us to the fact that both a Priest and Levite (distinguished people in the faith) came on that same road and found the man in his helpless and hopeless state and despite the victim’s anguish chose to ask a paraphrased question: “What will happen to me if I stop to help the man in need?” Then came the Good Samaritan and he reversed that question saying, “If I don’t stop to help the man in trouble what will happen to him” We are confronted by that same reality today – if we fail to stop to hear the cries of the Rohingya what will happen to them.
It was the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, that erudite mind and civil rights leader of the 20th Century that taught us “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. So we say today injustice in Myanmar against the Rohingya is an injustice to all of us regardless to where we may find ourselves in diverse pockets of what we colloquially refer to as the globe.
So in that conscious though vintage and effervescent understanding of our common humanity emanating from a common and equal created genesis of ontology and disposition, I along with my wife Lynne and my three sons have joined this picket, this protest action to unequivocally ask the fundamental question what will happen to the Rohingya if we choose to remain quiet.
In that same sense and spirit we have come to this our nation’s capital, here where representatives of fellow equal nations dispatch their respective representatives to represent what they stand for in the spirit of a common humanity to work for bilateral agreements that will confirms our common humanity as we trade, work, play and share our cultural experiences, in which none is more equal than the other. We have come to say Myanmar and its elongated struggle to realize a common humanity stand and cannot in this season be dragged into the agaping abyss of human rights abuse.
Myanmar in a ‘freed’ sense from military rule cannot in the 21st Century be allowed to forfeit the gains of a common humanity where the equal values immanent in life, the right to self identification and the pursuit of happiness is compromised. We thus implore our collective moral compass to demand from all of us to work for a more progressive and equitable society. We have come to say, the Rohingya are us, we are the Rohingya – their pain is our pain their agony is our agony. When you cut their skin, you cut our skin, when you make their children starve, you make our children starve, and when you abuse their women you abuse our sisters.
When you chase them you are chasing us. Our struggles are intertwined and is no different to that of what my forebears were subjected to in a time where for almost 200 years the Khoisan was declared vermin and the right to kill the Khoisan came with due recognition and honour. We say again as we said in the 80’s ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’.
This nation of 15 million people deserves better than what we are seeing displayed on our broadcasting channels. Anybody who knows the reality of human atrocities would tell you it’s always worse than what we as the globe are allowed to see. So if we agonize at the pictures and video clips we know it is always worse than what we are allowed to see. We dare not turn a blind eye; we dare not prove neutral in this season for we know neutrality attests the biggest form of partiality in times like these. I am joined with my Rohingya Muslim and Hindu brothers and sisters to register this injustice as inhumane, absurd, callous, deprave and an undeniable indictment for a common humanity.
We dare not prove silent for our silence in this season would render us complicit to the heinous crime of ethnic cleansing. No Suu Kyi this is not less than ethnic cleansing, this moment demands nothing less than honesty from all of us. So the Rohingya’s struggle is not a struggle narrowly defined in cloaks of faith, the Rohingya struggle is not a Muslim struggle it’s not a minority struggle – their struggle is our struggle their struggle is a struggle for a recognised and embraced common humanity.
That humanity compels us on this Friday September 15, 2017 to come to the embassy of Myanmar and irrevocably say stop this ethnic cleansing, stop killing our brothers and sisters, stop rendering our children orphans, stop displacing us, stop hunting us the Rohingya, like you we have an inalienable right to life and the pursuit of happiness.
If our own liberation struggle in the Southland of Africa taught us anything as students of the 80’s and the various generations that preceded us it was, if peace will prevail it will cost some of us to be willing to become unpopular, it will cost some of us to suffer economically. If therefore some of us are castigated for the stand we take today and suffer because of our rightful choice of solidarity to our own brothers and sisters then that is the least a prize we pay for not being silent. May we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters that face the brutality and savagery of an ungodly hate!
May we also take from the little we have to sow a seed into the freedom of our Rohingya family; their liberty is our liberty we dare not attempt to continue living when they are bludgeoned to death. God Bless the Rohingya in the Name of Jesus Christ my Saviour and Lord!
Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
o Lifelong Activist for Justice
o Founder of Quest for Non Racial South African Society Dialogue (QfNRSASD)
How much longer? a solitary cry my soul is culled, an injustice beyond measure… …convulsed in vomit of disgust
de-skinned defaced lifeless souls, how can we be silent? Myanmar why?
Rohingya, my blood, are they not us… Were we not there? How can this be right? blood-stained memories, etched stone cold as they flee… contorted in anguish Strained in pain… they have always been us… They are us…
Myanmar, why this ethnic cleansing, decades of exacted plight, an ever elusive common humanity. Royngia – life matters… despite what new leadership…
Suu Kyi, how can you be deaf? Myanmar is this your lot? Was your long fight all in vain? dashed hopes, hopeless hearts – questioning eyes… starving children, fleeing mothers Is this your legacy!
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine (Dedicated to my wife who sobbed heavily this night in our family hour of prayer fellowship when we remembered the Rohingya’s plight) 13/9/2017