A group of people, the Rohingya (Muslim), have been fleeing their homes in their thousands this week and sharing stories with refugee, government and new agencies about their mistreatment in Burma/ Myanmar (majority Buddhist). More than 160,000 of Burma/ Myanmar’s 1.1 million ethnic Rohingya minority have fled to Bangladesh, bringing with them stories that they say describe ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing – the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.
The leader in Burma/ Myanmar is Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who said in 1991: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.” There is a petition that she is stripped of her Nobel Prize for not stopping and condemning the attacks on the Rohingya.
News agencies are being cautious with their language when reporting the story as there have also been reports of Rohingya terrorists attacking and killing Buddhists and Hindus. So when they report on a massacre against the Rohingya they use language like the Guardian cannot independently corroborate the villagers’ accounts to protect themselves if the stories do turn out not to be true.
The United Nations believe that over 10,000 have been killed in the two years that conflict has resided in the Yemen. And that 3 million people have been displaced by the conflict.
The United Nations are urging the two sides to bring this conflict to a peaceful end so that the huge humanitarian costs can stop. So who is fighting? The Houthis group, backed by Iran, overthrew the president of Yemen two years ago and took over the capital. The Saudi Arabian backed president fled to the south of the country and is now being supported with the military might of Saudi Arabia. Adding to that, the Saudis are hugely supported by the US and UK.
When it comes to killing innocent civilians both sides can be found guilty. You can also add to the mix child soldiers and over 80% of the Yemen population requiring humanitarian aid to survive.
Isn’t it sad that nobody really talks about it; that so few people really know about it?
You may never have even heard of the Yemen which is just south of Saudi Arabia. So it is therefore highly unlikely you’ve ever heard of the war which has been taking place in the Yemen since September 2014. When rebel troops took over the capital city and ousted the President, Saudi Arabia tried to set up a coalition of countries to fight back and re-instate the old Present because they were fearful that Iran and Shia Islam would rise to dominance.
In March 2016 the BBC published a report which clearly explains who is involved in the war, and showed that the British were selling weapons to the Saudi troops. When those weapons are used like they were this weekend, killing a funeral party of 140 people, questions should be asked on whether a trade embargo should be put in place against the Saudi kingdom. Amnesty International provide a thorough analysis of the conflict so far.
UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral gathering as a “horrific attack”. He said that aid workers who arrived at the scene had been “shocked and outraged”.
It looks like Colombia’s 52 year conflict will finally come to a peaceful end. It’s rarely made big headlines in the UK but is interesting for students of RE and PSHCE because the end of the conflict sees lots of things happening which we would expect to find at the end of a bloody conflict.
First up there’s been a peace deal between the insurgents (rebels) and the government. This is going to be voted on by the people of Colombia in a referendum. The Farc rebels have also said they will pay reparations to the victims of this last Cold War conflict. There are thought to have been 260,000 people who died and up to six million people internally displaced by the conflict. With the end of the conflict the Farc rebels are also expected to stop their heavy involvement in Colombia’s drug trade too.
peace deal – an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties.
referendum -a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. Britain had a referendum on leaving or staying in the EU in 2016.
reparations -the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state/ group. At the Treaty of Versailles Germany was made to pay reparations for the damage caused in WWI. It was one of the reasons the Nazi Party was able to rise to power because the payment of the reparations crippled the Germane economy and people were annoyed at having to pay back so much.
internally displaced -a person who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders. They aren’t allowed to be called refugees as the legal definition of a refugee has to see the person fleeing over the border to another country.
The scenes from Saudi Arabia when Hajj is on each year are always breathtaking. To see millions of Muslims together celebrating their faith and asking forgiveness from Allah, walking in Muhammad’s footsteps. With all the news coverage you can easily learn about this Muslim pilgrimage, one of the five pillars and about the numerous stories which appear in the Qur’an.
This year though there is a political story too with Iranian Shia Muslims not making the journey, partly in response to last year’s stampede deaths but also because of the conflicts in the Yemen which pits Shia and Sunni Muslims against each other. The biggest leader of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the grand mufti, who has given a speech for the last 35 years to pilgrims is this year not giving the sermon. Perhaps his recent comments that Iranians are not proper Muslims has lead to him sitting it out this year.
Knowing the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims has become paramount to anybody trying to understand current world politics, never mind RE Lessons! The BBC iWonder pages gives a really thorough but easy to understand explanation. Or you could check out this Daily Express article for a basic idea.