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The Rohingya - Adrift on a Sea of Sorrows
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When is genocide not really genocide? When the victims are small, impoverished brown people no wants or cares about – Burma’s Rohingya.

Their plight has finally commanded some media attention because of the suffering of Rohingya boat people, 7,000 of whom continue to drift in the waters of the Andaman Sea without food, water or shelter from the intense sun. At least 2,500 lucky refugees are in camps in Indonesia.

Mass graves of Rohingya are being discovered in Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). Large numbers of Rohingya are fleeing for their lives from their homeland, Burma, while the world does nothing. Burma is believed to have some 800,000 Rohingya citizens.

This week, the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace Prize winners call on Burma and its much ballyhooed ‘democratic leader,’ Aung San Suu Kyi, to halt persecution of the Rohingya. They did nothing.

The Rohyinga’s persecution has been going on for over half a century, totally unobserved by the rest of the world. Burma’s government claims they are descendants of economic immigrants from neighboring Bengal who came as indentured laborers to the British colony of Burma in early the 19thcentury.

Interestingly, the British Empire created a similar ethnic problem by bringing large numbers of Tamils from southern India to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to work the British tea plantations.

But Bengalis have been on Burma’s Arakan Coast for centuries. What sets Rohyingas apart is their dark skin and Islamic faith. Burma seems determined to expel its Muslims for good, treating them like human garbage. It’s the kind of brutal ethnic cleansing, racism and genocide that we recently saw unleashed against Albanian and Bosnian Muslims and Catholics in Bosnia and Kosovo.

I’ve been watching the steady rise of a weird form of Asian racism among some militant Buddhists in Burma and Sri Lanka. The first sign was anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka a decade ago led by fiery Buddhist monks.

But wait a minute. I have always been very attracted to Buddhism as a gentle, sensible, human faith. My first book, “War at the Top of the World,” was inspired by my conversations with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I like to meditate in Buddhist temples whenever I’m in Asia.

So from where did all those screaming, hate-promoting Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Burma come from? Clearly, from deep smoldering fires that we knew nothing about. The bloody Sri Lankan civil war between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils was largely initiated by militant monks. One also remembers Vietnam’s self-immolating monks.

The same phenomena erupted in Burma, a nation rent by violent regional and ethnic tensions that have raged since 1945. But who initiated a campaign of hate and pogroms against the Arakan Muslims who were quietly, minding their own business and eking out a living? As soon as Burma’s military stepped back from total rule, the anti-Muslim violence went critical.

The triple-sainted (at least in the Western media) Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to hear foreign pleas that she do something. Burma will hold elections in November and she wants to avoid antagonizing Buddhist voters – even when her nation in practicing genocide.


I stood in front of her in Rangoon years ago when she was still a prisoner of the military junta, listening to her platitudes about human rights and democracy. I thought then and now that like all politicians, her words were not to be given too much credit. Maybe those fools on the Nobel Peace Prize committee could revoke her Peace Prize and, while they’re at it, Obama’s.

Thailand wants no Rohyingas; Indonesia says only a few thousand on a temporary basis. Australia, which is not overly fond of non-whites, say no. Bangladesh can’t even feed its own wretched people. So the poor Rohyingas are a persecuted people without a country, adrift on a sea of sorrows.

What of the Muslim world? What of that self-proclaimed “Defender of the Faith. Saudi Arabia?” The Saudis are just buying $109 billion worth of US arms which they can’t use, but they don’t have even a few pennies for their desperate co-religionists in the Andaman Sea. The Holy Koran enjoins Muslims to aid their brethren wherever they are persecuted – this is the true essence of jihadism.

But the Saudis are too busy plotting against Iran, bombing Yemen, and supporting rebels in Iraq and Syria, or getting ready for their summer vacations in Spain and France, to think about fellow Muslims dying of thirst. Pakistan, which could help, has not, other than offering moral support. Neither has India, one of the world’s leading Muslim nations.

In the end, it may be up to the United States to rescue the Rohyinga, just as it rescued Bosnia and Kosovo. That’s fine with me. I don’t want the US to be the world’s policeman; I want it to be the world’s rescuer, its SOS force, its liberator.

We should tell Burma to halt its genocide today, or face isolation and sanctions from the outside world.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Burma, Rohingya 
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  1. Mr. Margolis, the Burmese government in this instance is not lying. The Rohingya are in fact the descendants of 19th century Bengali immigrants from British India. Like all good imperialists the British imported vast numbers of Indians into Burma to cement their rule by creating a class of compradors of racially alien stock to pit them against the natives. The high officials in British Burma were white but the myriad of low level imperial functionaries were often brown. Upon Burmese independence most were expelled but the Rohingyas peasants have managed to hang on. The Rohingyas them selves are not necessarily innocent as their arrival in Burma coincided with the dispossession of the lands they are currently inhabiting.

  2. J Yan says:

    Aung San Suu Kyi wouldn’t be triple-sainted had she not joined the anti-Muslim crusades.

    Also, the Dalai Lama is not a real Buddhist. A real Buddhist renounces idolatry, ceremony, and birthrights.

  3. seer says:

    Thailand wants no Rohyingas; Indonesia says only a few thousand on a temporary basis. Australia, which is not overly fond of non-whites, say no. Bangladesh can’t even feed its own wretched people. So the poor Rohyingas are a persecuted people without a country, adrift on a sea of sorrows.

    Why leave out Malaysia? It’s a rich country and it’s Muslim-majority. They should be the ones to rescue their Muslim brethren.

    Why is it the responsibility of Australia or the US? Both nations already have serious problems with Muslim immigrants.

    Maybe they should go to Israel?

  4. “I don’t want the US to be the world’s policeman; I want it to be the world’s rescuer, its SOS force, its liberator.”

    Rarely have I read so concise a sentence of such Imperial-megalomaniacal self-contradiction.

    Let’s have the United States govern itself, as no American voted for the president, the Congress, or the judiciary to rescue the world, to serve as an “SOS force” for the world, or to liberate the world – and, most crucially, in the Constitution you will find no such mandates .

    At the same time, let’s leave other countries to conduct their own internal affairs, and let us stop the U.S. Government from waging Perpetual War and from imposing upon us Americans Perpetual Mass Third World Immigration.

    • Replies: @J Yan
  5. J Yan says:
    @Auntie Analogue

    Wow, I missed that. I also missed the equally deranged “just as it rescued Bosnia and Kosovo.”

    Scott Horton needs to challenge these statements the next time he interviews Margolis.

  6. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Wow, what an incredibly ignorant article.

    As stated in the article, these people are not native to the land and they did not immigrate there under the blessings of the native population. They were thrown into the country in typical British fashion to allow for divide and conquer. Maybe the British should take them in.

    I for one do not like hearing all this talk about what an embarrassment this is for Asia. What about all the Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees that were created by the Wests wars for oil? What makes these peoples cause less of a story? It is not one of circumstance at there have been many rapes and deaths amongst these people. It is just conveniently overlooking cause and effect for the west. How many of these refugees were taken in by America?

    • Replies: @Kiza
  7. Ralph says:

    “Mass graves of Rohingya are being discovered in Thailand”

    I find it hard to believe that the Thais are currently engaged in genocide.

  8. Not so hasty with the human rights demands. First things first. After! western companies have secured the resource exploitation rights, then we can set about with the lip service to our ‘values.’ You wouldn’t want China or Russia to take advantage of the hostility any premature meddling might create, would you?

  9. Vendetta says:

    Isn’t Myanmar already under sanctions and isolation? What more is to be done, exactly?

  10. “When is genocide not really genocide? When the victims are small, impoverished brown people no wants or cares about – Burma’s Rohingya”

    The 2,300,000 plus Iraqi’s slaughtered in the 20 odd year long American genocide in their country don’t seem to count either?

    • Replies: @random observer
  11. Why scare quotes for ‘democratic leader,’ Aung San Suu Kyi? What could be more democratic than responding to the will of the Burmese people to smash the defenseless Rohingyas? I could understand if the scare quotes were around ‘person with a sense of human decency’ Aung San Suu Kyi, something like that.

  12. @Bill Jones

    It lacks the evidence of US intent to exterminate Iraqis [as opposed to the laziness and stupidity of top-level US planning for the postwar environment in 2003], any actual prospect of Iraqis being exterminated by the past 12 years of war at the scale it was being fought, and most importantly any evidence that the US was the direct cause of most of the deaths.

    You can validly argue that the US set it all in motion, but when most of the dead are Shia on Sunni or vice-versa, you have to grant some kind of agency to the local peoples. They have as much right as any other peoples to settle their disputes by these methods.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “Australia, which is not overly fond of non-whites, say no.”

    Ridiculous statement. Australia is at the vanguard of the efforts by European nations to destroy their own cultural identity. The fact that the current government has a policy of refusing asylum to undocumented boat arrivals says nothing about the MASSIVE legal nonwhite immigration that Australia is undergoing. A walk around the downtown of any Australia city could quite easily lead you to believe that white Australians were in the minority.

  14. Ganpat says:

    Rohiyas belong to bangladesh. Baghladeshis are ethnically cleaning off Mongoloid looking Buddhists from the Chitagong Hill tracts for decades and nobody raises any issue. The truth is Brown Caucasoid-Australoid looking Muslim South Asians are expanding into Mongoloid-Australoid Buddhist South East Asian territory and they plan to colonize it. Just like how White Caucasians colonized Mongoloid North America or how taller Bantus Negroids colonized Pygmy lands or like how Mongoloid-Australoid Indonesians are colonizing Pure Australoid Papuan Irian Jaya today. It is part of a bigger racial and cultural clash.
    Read this blog and enlighten yourselves
    Mr Margolis you are the typical Westerner full of good intentions who always ends up supporting the wrong side due to lack of in-depth knowledge of an issue in a place very different from the west. The typical Bangladeshi is an anti-White racist while most Burmese are friendly towards Whites. BTW I am a Bengali Hindu with many South East Asian friends. Those Rohiya are from the same ethnicity as me. I know what I am talking about.

  15. MEH 0910 says:

    Wouldn’t it be best for the Rohingya to rejoin their compatriots in Bangladesh? That would undo the wrong perpetrated by the British imperialists.

  16. “the British Empire created a similar ethnic problem by bringing large numbers of Tamils from southern India to Sri Lanka”

    Wrong. The plantation Tamils in Central Sri Lanka were not involved in the civil war. That war was between the Sinhala and the Tamils of North and East Sri Lanka who have been on the island for at least 2200 years and probably far longer.

    • Replies: @Buddha
    , @Adar.
  17. Aung San Suu Kyi QC is keeping mum – to be expected from a darling of the liberal media.

  18. Mary says:

    The Rohingya have been raping & murdering Buddhists, they are muslims, doing what their genocidal koran tells them to do, and eventually the Buddhists had had enough. No sane person wants the Rohingya or any more muslim vermin here, send them to where they will fit in, in another muslim cesspool.

    • Replies: @Buddha
    , @Buddha
  19. Buddha says:

    The Buddhist has been killing Tamil Christian in Sri Lanka. They are killing indigenous Sri Lankine Muslim. The Burmese Buddhist has been killing Karen non-Buddhist.
    Buddhist women usually aren’t slept with by Muslim. It is done by Buddhist monks with begging bowl .

  20. Buddha says:

    Thank you for the information.

  21. Buddha says:

    May be one day Australia ,Canada,US and NZ will decide to throw out all SE Asians . They came as cheap labor and as part of diversity under the neoliberal program. They were encouraged to come by elite . The neoliberal elite and rootless cosmopolitan and the corporate cabal have this program of encouraging immigrant for their own advantages . They want friction,divisions,and mistrust within the country so that they can keep hiding their mistakes,brutalities,oppression,exploitation and harmful activities to society.
    New generation of majority white will say enough and get them out.

    How does that sound?

  22. Adar. says:

    This is correct. When Chinese Admiral Zheng Ho led the treasure fleet to Ceylon during the Ming Dynasty he found the Sinahalese and Tamil at war already. That was in the Fifteenth Century!! Long before whitey came on the scene. Chinese marines went ashore to fight and chastise the Tamil in the only military action of the Chinese outside of their traditional territory in many centuries!!

  23. Kiza says:

    Mr Margolis is CIA gone faux left wing. But at least this article shows how quickly one can go out of favor when one is a Western puppet like Aung San Suu Kyi. It took the West years to “triple-Saint” the woman, but one mis-step and she is out of favor. Life in the U.S. puppet land,

    This story reminds me of the British GCHQ wrapping itself up in the LGBT rainbow colors. What is next? NSA concerned about little African orphans or CIA against clubbing of seals in Russia?

    There is nothing humane that these organizations will not warp, and Margolis for them.

  24. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    wow Mary quite contrary, you come out all ugly. Do your research, and not at FOX News. The Rohingyas are a peaceful community in Burma, occupying a corner of the country where nothing comes easy, with no amenities, no help, nothing from the Burmese government. Described by international media and human rights organizations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, they were struggling to eke out a living until the rise of systematic violence against them by Burmese Buddhists. Someone asked about Malaysia. Malaysia has quietly taken in over 190,000 Rohingya refugees over decades, and now believe other SEAsian countries should also help. It will continue to give asylum but no longer at such numbers.

    • Replies: @Buddha
    , @anonymous
  25. Buddha says:

    Indonesia and Kazahakistan should take the remaining and evacuate the rest from Burmese monks visceral religious hatred.

  26. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t really buy that they are a peaceful community. No doubt there has been violence on both sides, but to portray the Rohingyas as innocent sounds like propaganda.

    At the end of the day these people were forced onto the native population, and come from somewhere else. So why can’t their native countries take them back?

    By the way, this is the Unz community. No one gives a shit about the UN, international media, or human rights organizations. Most people here recognize these organizations to be full of shit.

    • Replies: @Buddha
  27. I seem to remember the lead up to the current wave of suicide bombings many nations are suffering got its modern start in Sri Lanka with peaceful (sic) Buddhists v Tamils. No es verdad?

  28. KA [AKA "Buddha"] says:

    Tibet attacked and occupied China and expanded to Central Asia in 5-8 century AD. It persecuted other variants of Buddhism and imposed Buddhism on the native people.

  29. Buddha says:

    Can Indonesia throw the Chinese out? Chines were brought by Dutch. These Chinese sided with Dutch during the Indonesian independence movement. Chines control the levers of economic power . They don’t integrate . Chinese manage the bank and the media. Indoneisn have more cogent arguments to offer in support of the expulsion of the Chinese than does Burmese monks have . Chinese have been the true asset in protecting Suharto regime until its collapse
    Phillipine can also raise the same issue and expel the Chinese.

  30. Anthony says:

    For more about non-violent Buddhism, read the highly entertaining “The Bloody White Baron”. It’s about Mongolia, but it’s also about Buddhism.

    Also note that before the 20th Century, being a Dalai Lama was a hazardous occupation – the 8th through 12th Dalai Lamas were murdered, most of them before coming of age.

    • Replies: @5371
  31. 5371 says:

    I don’t know whether Ungern really qualifies, as he was plenty violent even before becoming a Buddhist.

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