Nationalism: A Barrier Wall for Indonesia to Save the Rohingya Muslim Women and Children
Three years have passed but the Rohingya crisis has not come to an end. Thousands of Muslims have continued to be hunted like animals and hundreds slaughtered. As a consequence, countless Rohingya families, having had no other choice fled to the neighboring countries only with a wooden raft. Now, there are hundreds of Rohingya who became victims of a human trafficking syndicate and are stranded in the sea of Aceh. They are waiting for any defense from their fellow Muslims, brothers and sisters in Aqeedah. Will they get protection as they have been expecting? Is it possible for Indonesia to position itself -as the largest Muslim country in the world- to be the main protector and helper for any persecuted Muslims in various places, especially the Rohingya Muslim women and children?
The attitude of the Indonesian government to face this problem is now clear. The government does not wish any existence of Rohingya to be a burden and that would cause any more problems. Therefore, no wonder the TNI (Indonesian Army) forbade the Aceh fishermen to help the stranded refugees and imposed penalties for anyone who violated it. The Indonesian government has repeatedly asserted that it has done more than enough to help the Rohingya. Indonesian foreign minister stated that the government has made policies that exceed international demands in the name of humanitarian aid. Indeed, after the national and international media massively published the rescue action conducted by the fishermen of Aceh to hundreds of Rohingya refugees last month, the government’s stance was little changed. Urges from various elements of society not to abandon the refugees pushed President Jokowi to decide to give shelter for the Rohingya for one year. Commander-in-chief of TNI (Panglima) promised to deploy troops to locate and help the Rohingya who are still in the middle of the Indonesian sea. Chief of Police (Kapolri) also guaranteed the security of Rohingya as they are accommodated for a year in Indonesia. But let’s see the truth, the half-heartened government of this country didn’t make policies that truly bring relief, protection, and a guarantee of future for them! They are placed in ramshackle refugee camps and treated like beggars who stand in line for food after their identity is recorded.
Taking Advantage from the Rohingya Crisis
The policy to accommodate the Rohingya refugees for a year seems to give a distinct advantage for the government. In the midst of declining public trust in the new government because of its neoliberal-natured policies that continue to be highlighted and a decrease of economic growth, the issue of Rohingya could become ‘something’ for the government. The Indonesian government could win the people’s hearts, particularly Muslims. Protests and demonstrations from various elements of society, urge from the House of Representatives, and pressure from various organizations are answered nicely by the government, with promising not to push back the boat of Rohingya out to sea (pushed back policy) as did Australia.
The seriousness of the Indonesian government to end to the suffering of our brothers and sisters of Rohingya Muslims is indeed questionable. In a meeting in Thailand (05/29/2015) which invited representatives from 17 countries, there wasn’t any ministerial-level officials from Indonesia. What can be expected from such a meeting? Earlier, in his visit to Myanmar (5/21/2015), Indonesia’s Foreign Minister spoke of the matter of the Rohingya as one of the agenda. But it was not about strong condemnation or even cutting diplomatic ties with the Myanmar regime for its approval on the massacre of Rohingya Muslims. Rather, the Minister urged for more economic and trade interests of Indonesia. The Government of Indonesia and Myanmar also discussed the possibility of bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, education, infrastructure, and communications. “Both countries are committed to increase trade reaching the target of one billion dollars in 2016,” according to an official statement the Foreign Ministry. Myanmar finally agreed to increase the volume of imports of some products from Indonesia. Indonesia and Myanmar also set some agreement on the release of the illegal fishermen who were still detained in each of the two countries. The Rohingya problem is still vague, and is merely mentioned that the government would contribute to address the large-scale migration which they called “irregular movement”.
Even until today, the government has not made any discourse to provide a clear future for the Rohingya Muslim. The government has objected to do only a resettlement as done when dealing with the exodus of the Vietnamese population due to political crisis in the late 1970s, by gathering and placing them in the Galang Island, Batam.
The Toxic Nationalism Kills Ukhuwah (Brotherhood)
The halfhearted concern against fellow Muslims is caused by the deadly poison of nationalism. Demarcation borders of nation-states have inhibited the full concern and responsibility for others. Nationalism is not only love of the homeland, which is never forbidden by Islam. Nationalism is the concept that leads a Muslim to abandon his religious guidance for the sake of so-called national interest. Right or wrong is my country. The Muslim Indonesian government considers that it is sufficient only to provide assistance and temporary shelter for the Rohingya. No protection, citizenship, and security for their future. The reason is that the people of Indonesia are already too large in number with a variety of problems that require serious attention. National interests must take precedence over helping strangers. The oppressed fellow Muslims are also considered as foreigners.
The capitalistic Indonesian government is also the cause of the failure of our brothers of Muslim Rohingya to get a guarantee of future in this country. The capitalist government has outlined that all policies must generate material benefits. The Indonesian government had no solution for the Rohingya crisis and continued to hide behind the principle of non-intervention of ASEAN because it does not want to disrupt the economic interests with Myanmar and other ASEAN countries. There will be no policy to cut ties or boycott that butcher regime of Myanmar, because it does not provide material benefits. What the government can do is just convince the Buddhist Myanmar regime to seriously stop the exodus of Rohingya which is adverse the neighboring countries.
The heroic actions of the Aceh poor fishermen who helped the boat people -Rohingya- should be a reflection for us all. The human nature actually will encourage someone to help each other in need, despite the limitations, with all the ability and sincere. When the government in the form of policies realizes this nature character, certainly it will be a great significance to save the Rohingya Muslims. It is not difficult for this country to provide adequate land, provide livelihood for the men to cultivate the land or other resources. Are there not hundreds of abandoned islands without inhabitants that are rich of natural resources? Instead it’s very easy for the Indonesian government to deploy its troops to deter the cruel Myanmar regime and liberate the Muslims and their children who are still left fearful in the country. But in reality, nationalism and capitalism have killed this natural character within the authorities and their policies. Those Kufr concepts have lowered the degree of humanity which should exist in every human being.
As for a Muslim who understands the responsibility of fellow Muslims as one body, this Aqeedah bond is more essential than human rights and humanity. This Ukhuwah bond does not discriminate between tribal and ethnicity and goes beyond geographic regions. We all know that the Rohingya have been cruelly humiliated simply because they are Muslims. But the Muslim rulers have had lost responsibility, even preventing the Muslim army and Muslim brothers in this country to save their brothers and daughters from the ferocity of the Buddhists. The idea of nationalism has been hindering Muslims to give the Rohingya their rights. This idea has proven to weaken the power of the Muslims and kill the true Ukhuwah Islamiyah. It is also obvious that they hinder the Indonesia Muslims to save their sisters and children of Rohingya from injustice faced during all of these times.
Urgent Need of Political Power
The Rohingya crisis should raise awareness of all parties about the failure of the democratic political system and its regimes to achieve the solution of humanitarian problems, moreover to protect the blood and honor of Muslims from all forms of injustice. The Muslim Ummah must immediately exert all its potentials to realize the unity of the Ummah and with a political power that is able to implement all the laws of Allah in all aspects of life. Only with this political power, the blood and honor of the Muslim Ummah will be secured, as well as the fulfillment of justice, welfare, and protection of the rights of the Muslims in the whole world. And this political power is the Islamic Khilafah State upon the method of the Prophethood.
In summary, Ukhuwah Islamiyah obliges all Muslims to unite to implement the Sharia in the frame of the Khilafah. Because Muslims are Ummatan wahidah (One Ummah). Any plight experienced by the Rohingya Muslims is essentially a disaster for all the Muslims in the world, including Indonesian Muslims. They cry, we cry. Their suffering is our suffering. Ignoring this problem is the same thing as harming the Ukhuwah and tainting the Aqeedah of a Muslim. On the contrary, every Muslim everywhere must view this issue as a serious matter because it involves the belief in the Aqeedah and the responsibility of Ukhuwah. And we all, especially the Ulemah, community leaders, and the media, should be at the forefront to pave the track to the comprehensive solution for the Rohingya crisis.
Our Prophet (saw) said,
«المسلم أخو المسلم، لا يظلمه، ولايسلمه، من كان في حاجة أخيه كان الله في حاجته»
“A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. So he should neither oppress him nor hand him over to an oppressor. And whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs.”
Iffah Ainur Rochmah
Spokeswoman of Hizb ut Tahrir Indonesia