Rohingya people targeted by ethnic cleansing in Myanmar take shelter in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Photo contributed

Column: Turning a blind eye has deadly consequences

Too much snow, gas prices too high, too many potholes.

These are common complaints in this part of the globe, particularly valid for people with mobility issues or those on low incomes. But for most people they pale in comparison with what some people in other parts of the world – and some in Canada – must face.

Thanks to people like Phedra Moon (Morris), for whom making a difference in the world is central to their lives, it’s more difficult to remain oblivious to the pain of others.

Moon is currently working in Bangladesh, heading up international assistance there for the Canadian government. She was back in Salmon Arm last week. The focus of aid is in Cox’s Bazar, which borders Rakhine State in Myanmar, and has seen about 700,000 Rohingya people enter since August after fleeing from the military.

Their sin? Being Muslim, according to international reports. They are the stain targeted by ethnic cleansing.

Amnesty International states that the Rohingya people have faced systematic, government-sponsored discrimination in Myanmar for decades, but it has intensified dramatically since 2012, when violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities swept Rakhine State. Yet the Rohingya have been in Myanmar for centuries.

The pictures Moon has seen drawn by children at the refugee camp are heartbreaking.

Pictures of people being shot, beaten, hanging from trees. Pictures of helicopters shooting from above. Red pencil crayon – for blood – on the human figures.

Moon says the longer the children stay at the camp and begin to feel safe, the less violent the drawings get.

She also reports that 22,000 children – well over Salmon Arm’s 17,000 population – came unaccompanied to the camp, either because they had become separated from their parents as they fled when their homes were burned to the ground, or their parents had been killed.

It’s difficult to fully comprehend the anguish.

Moon pointed out that Jan. 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The words “never again” pertain to the Second World War, yet the Rohingya are being systematically slaughtered. They, of course, are not the only groups in the world targeted.

Colonialism and corporate greed leave, and have left, many victims in their wake. If not from the arrogant destruction of the environment, then from government policies. Today, dozens of First Nations communities in Canada, for instance, remain on boil water advisories and some have been for years. Hard to imagine someone waiting for years for clean water in ‘mainstream’ Canada.

Moon says she is inspired by the courage and strength of the refugees she meets, and also by Bangladesh, a country with little monetary wealth that is so generous. With that in mind, may those of us who live in peace and comfort, with access to food, water and shelter, make our voices heard and our support felt – however we choose to do that – on behalf of the many in this world who don’t.

Just Posted

Down and dirty for South Okanagan burrowing owls

Volunteers needed for a series of work camps to restory burrowing owl dens

Okanagan’s smoke filled skies toxic to pets

Pet owners should take extra precautions with pets until smoke dissipates

Powwow honours children

Between the Lakes powwow devotes Sunday to children

Air support grounded as fires fill the skies with smoke

Update Aug. 19 1:25 p.m. A majority of air support is still… Continue reading

Auntie Says: Mind your own buisness

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan

Smoke cancels Super League Penticton, organizers give pros a gift

Super League Penticton organizers decide to send all pro competitors to championship

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Crews continue extinguish Snowy Mountain Wildfire

The 13,359 hectare wildfire is classified as held

Flights from Kelowna International Airport affected by wildfire smoke

Passengers are being asked to check their flight’s status before arriving

Work continues on Monashee Complex wildfires

Crews will be assisted by helicopters if flying conditions improve

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

Most Read