In an interview with Muslim Press on Islamophobia and the crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims, Tim King says, “By casting Muslims as terrorists and stereotyping the image for so long, the US ignited a global flame that burns people of the Islamic fate everywhere.”
Read the full transcription of the interview:
Muslim Press: Two unnamed UN officials have told the Reuters news agency that the Burmese authorities may have killed more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims during a recent crackdown on the minority group in the northeast Rakhine state. How could such crimes be disregarded by the international community?
Tim King: In my view, this tragedy is a product of the US-led campaign against Muslim people that has swept the world in recent years. By casting Muslims as terrorists and stereotyping the image for so long, the US ignited a global flame that burns people of the Islamic fate everywhere. This is a several-year old problem that has not been out of sight or out of view, yet until now the Rohingya have barely seen coverage here in the US. While these people have suffered at the hands of their Buddhist government and neighbors for five years, western media has looked the other way. This is part of the tragedy, as ample attention would have placed pressure on the government of Thein Sein to reign in his forces and their lustful hate of religious minorities. Keeping Rohingya people safe has not been a priority of Sein or Aung San Suu Kyi.
MP: Pope Francis has issued a strong defense of the Rohingya Muslims’ right to live free from persecution. Could such statements draw attention to the crimes committed against the Rohingyas?
Tim King: I think these statements could make a difference, but people in the western world still largely miss the basic point: that Buddhists have committed more genocidal crime than any other cultural or religious group in the 21st Century, beginning with the Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils in 2009, during which, according to the Catholic Church in Manar, Sri Lanka, more than 160,000 were exterminated, and this terrible persecution of the Rohingya in Burma which grinds away at a mostly defenseless population. The simple truth is that nations with these types of dismal human rights records should not be allowed to operate unchecked. UN monitors should be in place everywhere to ensure these barbaric practices are stopped. Pope Francis certainly helps with his words, it is too soon to know what the impact will be.
MP: What’s your take on the UN’s latest report that has accused security forces in Myanmar of committing serious human rights abuses, including gang-rape, savage beatings and child killing?
Tim King: Human Rights activists actually witnessed the recent carnage against the Rohingya Muslim people of Burma with their own eyes. What the witnesses reported included systematic sex crimes that were neither opportunistic nor random, in fact these sex crimes were described as routine and systematic. The Rohingya have been begging for help for many years. Let’s face it, Burma was under a military junta for a very long time, and this militarism has not disappeared, only morphed. As far as the government of Burma or Myanmar is concerned, it first has to stop constantly denying that these terrible crimes against their own countrymen are taking place. Nothing can be resolved until honesty becomes part of the picture.
MP: How should the Muslim world react to such crimes?
Tim King: Education and exposure are always key; people should write letters, call embassies, and their own congress or parliament to ask what their political leaders are doing about this severe problem. Letters to the editor, protests, and any contact with media helps. Social media continues to be one of the few places where awareness about the crimes against the Rohingya is found and shared. Beyond that, most people know that there is now an armed resistance among Rohingya in Burma. The scant amount of resistance they have offered, is directly tied to the recent killings of around 1,000 Rohingya Muslims, so it shows that if these battered people attempt to stand against the oppressive machine of the Burmese military, there will be a stiff price to pay. Just like the Cambodians under Pol Pot, the Jews under Hitler, the crimes taking place are heinous and would unnerve any decent person.
This post was originally published by Muslim Press and reproduced here under Creative Commons.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native has served as Salem-News.com’s Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting.