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FOCUS March 2006 Volume 43

Our Minorities


Distinctions between peoples are sometimes dictated by myths and biases. Be they in remote places or in the midst of towns and cities, those designated as different constitute the minorities. The minorities' histories are likely little understood, much less appreciated by the rest of the "non-minorities"

It is unfortunate that the minorities suffer from discrimination and other human rights violations. In times of crisis, they even get murdered or otherwise physically harmed

The riots that occurred in Southeast and South Asia during the last decade are reminders of the seriousness of the problems faced by minorities. While the situation of minorities in some countries in the region, where various forms of discrimination occur, reminds us of the persistence of the problems despite economic development

The existence of people who are considered different is not an aberration in society - it is a normal feature of a society that is vibrant and appreciative of diversity. Some societies refuse however to accept diversity, regardless of its reality. Distinctions among peoples, be they apparent or hidden, are sources of ideas better used for the benefit of society as a whole

The issue of "minorities" is best resolved by understanding their histories and role in society, in the process redefining the character of society itself. Respecting their human rights will not harm anyone. Violating their rights is simply oppression. Is it not appropriate to see minorities not as "them" but as part of "us"?

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