Rohingya's – the Victims of Ethnic Cleansing We Don’t Know

Rohingyas – as the illegal immigrants we know, Rohingyas – as the victims, due to ethnic cleansing in the Myanmar, we don’t. Who are they? Why are they being forced to leave their lands and are being persecuted? Maybe history has got some answers.

The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority group who reside conventionally in the Rakhine State (previously Arakan). The religion followed by the minority ethnic group is a variation of the Sunni religion. The Rohingyas are considered as ‘stateless entities’ and are not given any legal protection by the government of Myanmar. The level of persecution faced by the Rohingyas is described as the highest than any other ethnic minority group of the world.

There is an ongoing crisis in Myanmar over the atrocities carried out on the Rohingya people and their forcible displacement from the Rakhine region to neighbouring Bangladesh. The dispute is characterised by violent disputes between the Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities, the military crackdown on Rohingya civilians by Myanmar’s security forces, and the resultant militant attacks by the Rohingya insurgents.

Background1939-45 : During the Second World War, the Rohingya allied with the British forces with a Muslim state being promised in return after the ending of the war. They fought against local Rakhine Buddhists and the Japanese forces.

Later some elements of Rohingya and Muslim leaders from Arakan approached Muhammad Ali Jinnah, (Governor-general of newly formed Pakistan) for the formal annexation of two townships in the Mayu region, named Maungdaw and Buthidaung, into East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh). The request was turned down and troubles had just begun for the group.

Post-independence trouble

Myanmar gained independence in 1948 and the new regime was elected. The union government formed passed Union Citizenship Act which denied citizenship to the Rohingyas. The Rohingya (dominantly Muslim) were not even considered ethnic group of the nation. This subjected them to extensive systematic discrimination in their own country and this continues till present times.

The massive crackdown by the Myanmar in 1978 forced thousands and millions of Rohingya to flee. The 1982 Citizenship Act made Rohingya completely stateless. The subsequent operations were carried out by the military in 1992 to systematically drive the Rohingyas.

“We are all shocked by the dramatic escalation of sectarian tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. A vicious cycle of persecution, discrimination, radicalization and violent repression has led more than 400,000 desperate people to flee, putting regional stability at risk.” – the UN reported on September 19, 2017. The actual figures could be alarmingly higher, with each passing day. The Burmese para-military have very recently laid landmines near Bangladesh border, making the return of Rohingyas a dream only.

Recent developments

Recently, Aung San Suu Kyi made a trip to the International Court of Justice in Hague to defend her country against charges of genocide in a complaint brought by Gambia on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, a group of Muslim countries. She failed to recognise the atrocities on the Rohingya Muslims or acknowledge the army’s role in them. Instead, she very openly argued that the burning of villages and the plight of more than a million Rohingyas should bee seen as unfortunate side-effects of the army’s ongoing conflicts with various guerrilla groups. Maintaining a defensive stand, she stated that her government had little influence over military groups, military justice and that her government never intended to commit genocide.


With the houses of Rohingya people burned down, their women exploited and raped, men subjected to high atrocities and children malnourished, every saturation point of humanitarian value has been exceeded. The Myanmar’s leader and ironically Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Ky has barely acknowledged the attacks. When Suu Ky said, “More than 50% of the villages of the Muslims are intact as they were before the attacks took place”, she is ignoring the fact that about 50% of the land tracts have been burned down and ‘ethnically-cleansed’.

With being subjected to hostility and ill-treatment for decades now, the concerns of the minority group are at great risk. The not-so-welcoming support by Bangladesh and unhostile environment in the refugee camps, makes the future roads for Rohingyas unclear. With prospects of NRC (National Register of Citizens) being implemented in India in future, the situation deteriorates further for this community.

Conclusion – steps to be taken

The UN and other super powers need to strategize politically and diplomatically to force the authorities in Myanmar to end the military operations against the group. Providing them unhindered humanitarian access with full citizenship rights and proper rehabilitation with the sense of degree of dignity and security is the least the Rohingyas deserve. They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long.

With Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam ideology i.e. One World, One Family, Rohingyas just can’t be treated as fostered kid thrown out of the house to be left on his own. Even when I am concluding this article, somewhere there are Rohingyas homeless, crying against atrocities they don’t deserve. Period.

Written by - Prateek Bansal

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Rohingya's – the Victims of Ethnic Cleansing We Don’t Know Rohingya's – the Victims of Ethnic Cleansing We Don’t Know Reviewed by EMN on December 22, 2019 Rating: 5

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