By Siti Nurzahra Rusdi
“I can’t breathe”. That was the last word from George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after he was brutally pinned down by a white police officer (Derek Chauvin) on 25 May. His tragic death has sparked outrage among the black community around the world as well as those who reside in the United States.
The global reactions grow every minute and second as thousands have taken to the streets calling for an end to racism at home and abroad. From America to Europe and Asia, people regardless of skin colour have shared their anger, fury, sadness, and disappointment over the incident that caused George Floyd’s death. As his name reached the world’s streets, his last words become a chanted for the protesters who accused those involved in the episode for deep-seated racial inequalities.
The long history of the African American community in the United States is full of tragedies, wounds and scars. From being forced into slavery to be murdered because of prejudice, things have not really changed for them. The long-awaited rights for them have never truly arrived even after the phenomenal and emotional speech uttered by the black human rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.
The sad truth is that no matter which era we are living, the roots of discrimination and prejudices are already strongly embodied within the lives of the white supremacy for generations. To be black in America means to live your lives in anxiety and worries while enduring the white supremacy. As shared by a 39-year old man, “To be black in America, you have to endure white supremacy. You have to fear the police. To be American, you have the luxury of saying, ‘They should have complied!’ To be black in America, you have to hope someone recorded your compliance because you may no longer be around to defend yourself,” according to a foreign news report.
This tragic incident will always be in our heart as it hits close to home. It will remain as one of the evidence on how justice does not prevail in a system and how this system has created one world where the majority can live in supremacy and discriminate against the minority to the extent of violating their rights as a human being.
And the worst, the case of African Americans is not the only “invisible” case involving racism, prejudice, and discrimination in this world, but there are many other cases that are “invisible” in the eyes of the public. All these invisible and silent cases deserve to be known as all lives matter regardless of skin colour, ethnicity and religion.
As we witness the above development, I wish to address some of the undying voices fighting for their rights, freedom and justice that touch the ethnic groups in other parts of the world.
The Voice of the Rohingyas
The voice of the Rohingya Muslim minority has existed for decades and continued to be a devastating issue to humanity in various aspects. If we were to trace to the historical aspect of Myanmar, we can see pieces that show discriminations that the Rohingya face. The research entitled “Roots of Discrimination Against Rohingya Minorities: Society, Ethnicity and International Relations” reported that the unfortunate incident of the Rohingya occurred since 1948 where they had been excluded from being civil servants and from getting involved in political activities by the Myanmar government.
Since then, physical and mental abuse are no longer a stranger for the Rohingya – genocide, mass gang rape, torturing and abduction. All these inhuman behaviours are abusing their rights not only as people of the land but as human beings. The struggles are immeasurable. All this time, they have been struggling for identity, existence, peace and a place where they belong. It has been years past and they are still looking and searching for a place they can possibly call a home. The journey to secure their rights has never been an easy one, nonetheless, the fight continues.
The Voice of the Uyghur
It’s called ‘cultural genocide’. This is exactly what is happening in Xin Jiang, China. A place where the Chinese government is trying to enforce a ‘harmonious society” by using a systematic brainwashing and a massive oppressive treatment of the Muslim Uyghur to get rid of the cultural and religious roots. Since 17 March last year, the Chinese government has confined over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in massive “detention camp” aimed to remould and reshape their ideology, a newspaper ‘The Conversation’ reported.
Not only that, those who are in custody also are forced to denounce their religion, being forbidden from speaking their language while being forced to praise the President and the Chinese Communist Party for salvation. The idea to create a harmonious society seems like an ideal one, but the truth is that it is very absurd. It is ridiculous and cruel to kill off one culture and belief to create an ‘ideal society’.
The fear of the people of Uyghur is not limited to the detention but to the strict restrictions they have to face. Over the last few years, the authorities have trapped the entire region into a police state where their movements were being strictly monitored even inside their home. In short, there is no freedom for this ethnic group and as it is now, there is no way for the global public to know about the real situation as China is described as the real expert in hiding issues from the world.
The Voice of the Kashmir
The Kashmir issue has come as one of the most complex and grievous conflicts of the century. This conflict was the result of the partition between India and Pakistan in 1947. Since then, the Kashmir issue has been at the centre of many conflicts involving these South Asia’s two nuclear power.
In present days, the troubles started in the first few days of August 2019 when tens of thousands of additional Indian troops were deployed into Kashmir, schools and colleges were shut, tourists were ordered to leave and telephone as well internet services were suspended. The government of India later made everyone stunned having publicly revoked nearly all Article 370, leaving Kashmir with nearly no protection at all. (For further information you can click here https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708).
The rights that have been taken away from the people of Kashmir are uncountable. If it is to be summarised, the violations of rights faced by them include loss of lives, lack of the right to live and personal immunity and access to courts, illegal and arbitrary decisions on the custody of civilians, including children. There are also excessive usage of force, illegal abduction of people, and repression against human rights activists and journalists.
All in all, the people of Kashmir were largely abandoned and the world power have very little to say about them. Having said that, the undying hope for freedom will forever be embodied within the people of Kashmir. A hope that one day, freedom will finally arrive upon their land and no more innocent lives need to be taken as a “prize” of territorial disputes between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
The Voice of the Palestinians
The conflict between Palestine and Israel is one of the worst crises that could ever happen in this century. More than 100 years have passed since Britain’s controversial pledge in the Balfour Declaration which resulted in a significant disruption in the lives of Palestinians.
Palestine is no more the same after the British illegally gave away their land to the Zionist. Their rights are cruelly violated by the British and Zionist. No more freedom and rights. Everything is in chaos. Their freedom is no longer theirs and their land suddenly is a strange land.
The violations on the Palestinian land is unforgivable. It is so heart-breaking to see the living state of Palestinians in their own land. The place once called home, now is an open-jailed. Everything is restricted and not accessible. I believe the biggest crime that the Zionist has done to the Palestinians is they have violated the rights of Palestinians as human in all aspects. Starting from the settlement, the exodus, border issue and water rights; the violations have gone too far and extreme.
And cruellest were the launched of a series of deadly airstrikes on the Palestinians have become a common thing for the Zionist. The deadly airstrike knows no children, elderly or anyone. They killed everyone. To live as a Palestinian means to prepare your lives to live in anxiety and fear as death may knock in anytime and anywhere.
All these tragic conflicts remind us to always value all lives. No matter who they are, it is not right to discriminate and violate people’s rights. All these while, they have been struggling to find their own freedom, to search for their light.
I believe these restless efforts will continue for as long as the world has yet to recognise fairness, peace and justice. Therefore, I sincerely hope for the light and peace reaching upon these innocent souls for everything they have endured so far deserve to be known.
I end this writing with a quote from a known South African freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” ***