More From Alder's Ledge

July 30, 2012

Assam Burns Hotter

Death Toll Ticks Upward
(Part of The Darkness Visible post)

I have tried to remain impartial while I watch as two communities fight to survive this horrible outbreak of violence in Assam. I have tried not to invest myself into another terrible conflict. But I can't in either case. My heart goes out to the vulnerable. My soul cries out for the oppressed. And in Assam I can not remain silent as the world covers its eyes once more.

Currently the Assam tragedy is a regional issue. India makes it appear as though they have everything under control. But the region is burning. The vulnerable minority in Assam, the Muslims, are being targeted. And yet the world tells us... "well they are fighting back so its partially their fault".

When did we start telling ourselves the victims of ethnic violence should go to slaughter like sheep? My ancestors didn't disappear into concentration camps like lambs waiting for the butcher. Bosnian Muslims didn't lay down wait for the axe to fall. So why should this latest victim put their heads upon the chopping block and wait for India to hack away?

I am under no illusions of India's capabilities when I state that if India's government wanted to restore order they could in a matter of days. Yet that is how the world wants to imagine it as we pretend that India is the backward hell hole Britain use to run into the ground. We seem willing to accept the Indian governments excuses for allowing the Bodo tribesmen to loot and burn Muslim villages.

I do not accept that the men like this one above are inept and incapable of stopping untrained mobs from attacking and killing unarmed civilians. That toy in his hand isn't a BB gun. It is loaded with the same ammunition used in Russian or Chinese rifles. And that shoot on sight order is supposed to give soldiers like this one the capability to enforce the curfew India set in place in Assam. Yet the world seems willing to ignore all of this while asking the Indian government why the killing is still going strong.

For me it is clear why a Hindu country is slow to act when its Muslim minority comes under attack. When Pakistan and India were divided into two separate nations the area along the border became a seemingly endless killing field. The blood poured on both sides with such hatred that no civilized army dared to step in to stop it. And it is that same grudge that continues to this day.

India is a nation surrounded by countries who do not practice Hinduism. The nuclear stalemate between it and its neighbor Pakistan shows how this division in religious beliefs floats beneath the surface. To add to this you have a porous border with Bangladesh and its Muslim population. India is surrounded by people its population doesn't seem to get along with.

So for those Muslims who live on "the wrong side of the border"... life is hard to say the least. For the Muslims in Assam life is getting hard to hold onto. The separatist groups (exp. the Bodo Liberation Tigers) in Assam want this minority population permanently expelled. They do not want to live in peace next to Bengali Muslims (ironically many of which are as much Indian in nationality as the Bodo themselves) any longer. This is a divide that must be recognized. And the violence that arises from it must be smashed with extreme force the very moment it occurs.

It is never acceptable to have women and children suffer the politics of a nation. Babies should never be born in refugee camps while their mothers fight to find food let alone medical attention. Children should never be forced to live in tents while their fathers remain missing in the fog of battle. This entire situation is headed to the same scale of tragedy that is occurring in Myanmar. And sadly, it shouldn't be happening at all.

Western government which have been helping India's economy boom should now be less worried about jobs being outsourced and more about the human cost of this drastic change in India's societies. With the changes of economic growth and social influences from the outside world the possibility of human rights violations grows. In Assam it is not clear how these factors affect the crisis. But it is clear that the Indian government is failing.

From Washington, London, Berlin, to Paris... the West needs to start upholding its promise of "Never Again" when it comes to the devastating effects of human rights violations. We can not wait for the Indian government to act. We need to spur the Indian government to act and to do so quickly.

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