Muslim Persecution in Myanmar Worsens

By Eva Rian, International News Writer

A report published on September 5 by the independent Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) gave an insight as to why the Rohingya have long been known as possibly “the world’s most persecuted minority.” Recent events in Myanmar have led multiple governments, institutions, and human rights groups to decry a marked worsening of violence.

As published in February 2017, the UN’s report on these human rights abuses reads like “a catalog of the most horrific acts humans can inflict on one another. The crimes include gang rapes, murders of pregnant women, and the killing of babies,” as analyzed by OZY’s Alex Hotz. The conflict seemed to die down for months afterward, but in the last two weeks alone hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to nearby countries like Bangladesh, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Nonetheless, they are far from safe in Bangladesh, which is “one of the world’s most crowded nations,” “not equipped to care for a massive influx of sick, traumatized people,” and keeps camps in a deprived state to discourage Rohingya seeking refuge, according to radio network KOSU. Far from stemming the flow of Rohingya out of Myanmar, the government has been laying landmines across part of its border with Bangladesh, the Independent notes, to likely prevent their return. Furthermore, NPR reports that international aid has largely been blocked by the government, which alleges that the supplies were being used in militant camps, appearing as support for the militants – a claim Amnesty International sharply denied and rebuked as “both reckless and irresponsible.”

The chaos stems from the attacks of a Rohingyan rebel group known as the “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army,” which decries the Myanmar government’s persecution of minorities and whose most recent strike in August killed multiple men from Myanmar’s security forces, leading to violent backlash from the army: villages burned to the ground and plagued by indiscriminate shooting of unarmed civilians. The  BHRN points to persecution backed not only by the government, but also groups of Buddhists and ultra-nationalist civilians, whereas the Myanmar authorities claim the arson is the work of insurgents and the army is fighting “a legitimate campaign against terrorists,” as quoted from Reuters. It seems no love is lost within the borders of Myanmar, as in Al Jazeera’s words, the Rohingya Muslim minority are “widely reviled as illegal migrants from Bangladesh” and have been denied citizenship by the government.”  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to verify either side’s claims, as the media and independent commissions from the UN have been denied access to the Rakhine, where the violence ensues.

Figures worldwide such as Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai continue to call for an international response – and express disappointment with the head of the government, Aung San Suu Kyi, who used to be best known as a Nobel Prize Laureate for her struggle for democracy in Myanmar. Outrage over the leader’s conspicuous silence and active denial of government wrongdoing has pushed over 365,000 to sign a petition calling for the Nobel committee to revoke her peace prize, the Telegraph reports. One way or the other, it doesn’t seem the Rohingya’s plight will cease any time soon, as U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns Myanmar is “facing a risk” of ethnic cleansing – the possible genocide of the Rohingya.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 12th print edition.

Contact Eva at

eva.rian@student.shu.edu

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