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

LETTER: The minority will control the majority

Existing electoral system is stable, simple and successful.

LETTER: Thanks to all who ran in election

To those that were elected, I look forward to your collective stewardship

Kettle Valley Steam Railway holds train ride of terror

Summerland tourist train will have Halloween-themed events

Ballet Kelowna to kick off 16th season with pair of premiers

Fresh off performances in Beijing and Toronto, company will perform at KCT Nov. 16 and 17

LETTER: Support candidates who will assist cannabis industry

Cannabis has often provided extra income for fruit growers or paid the bills for students

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Who is running in Summerland’s election?

Introducing you to the candidates asking for your vote on Oct. 20

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic Hitching Post restaurant in Hedley

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

World Junior Hockey fever hits Vernon

Vipers spice up floor ball demonstration at OK Landing School

Most Read