News Analysis |
Militants belonging to Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state in August. The government says that at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 members of the security forces were killed.
These attacks marked a major escalation in a simmering conflict in the northwestern state since last October.
International community has failed to take any concrete steps to urge Myanmar’s government to end this ethnic cleansing of this suppressed community
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group previously known as Harakah al-Yaqin, which instigated attacks in October, claimed responsibility for the early morning offensive and warned of more.
Human Rights Groups have stated that since the recent escalation of violence, hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have been killed while thousands more have been forced from their homes. UN, Amnesty International, and other groups have called on the Myanmar’s government to take measures to end violence and ensure the return of Rohingya Muslims to their homes. However, the bloodshed continues unabated.
Read more: Persecution of Rohingya Muslims: Will ASEAN countries find a solution?
Who are Rohingya?
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority group living primarily in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. They number between 8,00,000 to 1.3 million which accounts for nearly third of the state’s population. The group is believed to be of mixed ancestry, tracing its origins to local Bengali and Rakhine and to outsiders specifically Arabs. They practice Sunni Islam.
The government of Myanmar should be held accountable before international community for not providing the security to its indigenous people
Historians believe that Muslims arrived in Rakhine, which formerly was the independent kingdom of Arakan as long ago as the 8th century. They were traders and seafarers from the Middle East. These Arab traders identified themselves as “Rohingyas”, which mean inhabitants of Rohang, the early Muslim name for Arakan.
More Muslims arrived in the state from Bengal during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Bengal and the Rakhine territory were governed by colonial rule as part of British India. Since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, Rohingya have been denied the group recognition as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. They have since been labeled as illegal Bengali immigrants by Myanmar’s successive governments despite the fact that many Rohingya have resided in Myanmar for centuries.
Read more: Finally UNHRC takes up matter of genocide against Muslims
Status of Rohingya in Myanmar?
Since the independence of Myanmar from British rule in 1948, the Rohingya Muslims have faced institutionalized systematic discrimination from the state. A major portion of Rohingya population lives well below poverty line. They do not possess citizenship which has placed restrictions on marriage, education, employment, religious choice and freedom of movement for the oppressed community.
Ms. Suchi’s party coming to power, the exceptions sky rocketed but unfortunately, her silence over this persecution questions her faith in peace and democracy
The relationship between Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhist population of Rakhine have remained sour for centuries. Widespread poverty, weak infrastructure, and lack of employment opportunities have exacerbated this divide between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.
Violence broke out in 2012 after Rohingya men were accused of raping and killing a Buddhist woman. Local Buddhist nationalists killed nearly 300 Rohingya and burned homes, displacing tens of thousands of people. More than 120,000, Rohingya were placed in internment camps while thousands more fled to neighboring countries. Human Rights Watch described the violence as amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Read more: The “peaceful” Buddhists take up arms against Muslims
In October 2015, Allard k. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School published its legal analysis in which it stated that strong evidence of genocide against Rohingya by Myanmar military has been found. Another report published by International State Crime Initiative at the Queen Mary University of London concluded that the Rohingya face the final stages of genocide.
United Nations and other regional organizations such as ASEAN have urged the central government in Myanmar to do more to protect ethnic minority groups from persecution
The plight of Rohingya was supposed to improve after Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy and Noble Peace Prize winner, won 2015 elections in Myanmar which were held after five decades of military rule. However, less than a year after her taking office, the Myanmar’s military launched a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya after an attack on a border outpost in Rakhine killed nine police officers in October 2016. This operation resulted in the slaughter of approximately 1000 Rohingya Muslims while more than 70000 were driven across the border into Bangladesh.
Despite this fact, the once human rights champion continues to deny the atrocities being committed by the Myanmar’s military. Many western authors have stated that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyii has turned into an apologist for genocide against Muslims.
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Status of Rohingya in the countries they are migrating to
Continuous trials and tribulations have forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to become refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia among others. Their condition in these countries is dismal and they continue to suffer.
Bangladesh is home to almost 33000 registered Rohingya refugees. In addition to that, UNHCR stated that between 200,000 to 500,000 additional unregistered Rohingya refugees are believed to live in the country. Malaysia is home to well over 100,000 Rohingya refugees while Thailand hosts 1000 and Indonesia is home to over 2000 registered refugees.
Less than a year after her taking office, the Myanmar’s military launched a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya after an attack on a border outpost in Rakhine killed nine police officers in October 2016
The condition of refugees in Bangladesh is dire. Rohingya who has arrived in Malaysia have no legal status and are unable to work, leaving their families cut off from access to education and health care. Thailand hosts only a small number of Rohingya Muslims. The discovery of mass graves in alleged concentration camps made for Rohingya attracted international condemnation. The Rohingya living in Indonesia fare much better than those in other countries.
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What is being done to end sufferings of Rohingya?
Rohingya Muslim community has endured decades of hardships emanating from the willful neglect on part of the Myanmar successive governments. The words and phrases, stateless, unwanted and the world’s most persecuted religious minority are often affiliated with Rohingya Muslims. While the government of Myanmar continues to persecute the defenseless Rohingya community, international community response is also not very encouraging.
The group is believed to be of mixed ancestry, tracing its origins to local Bengali and Rakhine and to outsiders specifically Arabs. They practice Sunni Islam
To date, United Nations and other regional organizations such as ASEAN have urged the central government in Myanmar to do more to protect ethnic minority groups from persecution. However, no concrete step has been taken by the international community to force the Myanmar’s government to end the persecution of the suppressed community.
To date, UN and other regional organizations such as ASEAN have urged the central government in Myanmar to become proactive to protect this ethnic minority group from genocide. With Ms. Suchi’s party coming to power, the exceptions sky rocketed but unfortunately, her silence over this persecution questions her faith in peace and democracy. Moreover, International community has failed to take any concrete steps to urge Myanmar’s government to end this ethnic cleansing of this suppressed community. The government of Myanmar should be held accountable before international community for not providing the security to its indigenous people.