Amidst PM Modi’s visit to Myanmar and talks on shared sentiments about “extremist violence,” Myanmar is under immense international pressure at the moment. Since 25th of August, there has been a slew of attacks started by the Rohingyas on an army base and police. This led to violence on a large-scale against the ethnic group causing close to 125,000 Rohingyas to flee Myanmar. The attack made by rebels saw several innocent Rohingyas being targeted.
The army retaliated against the attacks by killing close to 370 people according to numbers from the previous week. Reliable sources have stated that in a single village, the numbers are close to 130 which also includes the indiscriminate killing of women and children. The UN foresees that this type of ‘ethnic cleansing’ could amount to genocide very soon.
Who are the Rohingyas?
The Rohingyas are an ethnic minority originally from the district from Rakhine. They have been thriving among the Buddhist-majority population of Myanmar since centuries. Since Myanmar achieved independence from British rule in 1948, the Union Citizenship Act was passed and reportedly the Rohingyas were not included in the list of recognized ethnicities. They have been outright denied citizenship since 1982 and persecuted ruthlessly in great numbers.
Close to the entirety of the 1.1 million population of Rohingyas are still living in Rakhine and are disallowed to leave the state without express permission from the government. Thus, consequently, Rohingyas have become stateless- persona non-grata in their own country. Rakhine has one of the poorest living states in the whole country. Due to such dismal conditions, Rohingyas have fled Myanmar in scores all through the decades to Bangladesh and such neighboring countries.
Why Isn’t the Violence Against them Recognized?
In October 2016, rebel groups killed 9 police men from the state which led to a crackdown in Rakhine by the state army. The manner in which the army conducted the ‘cleansing operations’ and the nature of acts committed define the horrific narrative against this community. Rapes, extrajudicial killings and arson and a variety of human rights were abused. This was completely denied by the government.
There were separate instances in 2013 as well when allegations of a similar nature were made but to no avail. Rohingyas preferred to undertake the dangerous journey of trying to reach Malaysia by boat across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Thousands attempt to cross the borders and enter Bangladesh sometimes only to be captured and sent back to Myanmar.
What Does the Government Say About the Crisis?
The State Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi has no control over the army. However, the Nobel laureate has been widely criticized for completely failing to recognize the extreme and widespread violence against the group. She has refused to acknowledge the state of them and has made statements saying how exaggerated the reports were.
The plight of the Rohingyas appears to be bleak with no intervention from the international community yet. No member is willing to sacrifice sovereignty on the face of these brazen atrocities. It is yet to be seen how much will ultimately be too much.
Image Source- Dawn