The news cycle moves on, and having had their fifteen minutes of Western compassion, whole peoples are left to struggle on with the wreck of their lives. Today the media suddenly recall again the terrible dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people. In a couple of weeks time, they will be back to claiming that anybody who recalls that is an anti-semite. The fashion for worrying about the Rohingyas has entirely passed; the TV crews have gone and the Hollywood celebrities moved on to their next fad. But the plight of the dispossessed has still worsened.
The British conquest and occupation of what they knew as Burma met with some of the stiffest national resistance – characterised by the British as “fanatic” – the British ever encountered, as the invaders advanced up the rivers in a series of 19th century wars and were resisted from behind multiple fortified bamboo stockades. It is a very little known episode in British history, largely because it was so inglorious. The Burmese never did become docile under Imperial rule, and for that reason a high proportion of the ancestors of the present day Rohingya were employed as Imperial functionaries (not only military and police), in a classic British move of exploiting ethnic and religious tensions, which policy was absolutely conscious and deliberate at the time. The Rohingyas had themselves in large part been driven out of an expansionist Burma in the 1780’s, and the British returned a great many from Bengal, exploiting a pre-existing conflict in classic fashion. This background, which in no way justifies the recent ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, is essential to understanding the root of recent events; it is a perspective almost entirely absent from media narrative.
Nadira’s next film venture as co-Producer is a documentary on the Rohingya situation which will endeavour to explain what is happening in much more depth than simply the recital of individual atrocity stories, terrible though these are. The Director will be our friend Shahida Tulaganova. They are currently attempting to raise funds towards the production costs, and here is their fundraising appeal. Help would be much appreciated. I should add that I have no input to this at all, other than making cups of tea, and any views expressed will very probably not concur with my own, with which I am very comfortable. As I have always said, the entire purpose of this blog is not to make people think like me, it is just to make people think.
You can make a contribution through kickstarter. That site works on the premise that if the full donation target of £15,000 is not reached, then the money is not given and returns to the donors. To date they have raised £4,526 and have eleven days left.