The Rohingya Muslims are the people of the Rakhine state of Mayanmar (Burma) who are, historically, known to have set foot in the Burmese land, mainly the Rakhine state, in the 8th century for the purposes of trading and religious preaching.
Most of these people were men, who married the local women and settled down. Although the Rohingya has people belonging to two religions: Islam and Hinduism, currently, there are over 1 million Rohingya Muslims in Burma, a majority of whom live in Rakhine making up about 40% of the population. However, for decades, there has been a tension between them and the Buddhist majority, and the government as well as the people have been rejecting their claims about their origin.
They even reject the existence of the term ‘Rohingya’ itself, and thus, for decades the Rohingya Muslims have been facing consistent controversies for being ‘British-Indian immigrants’ from the 18th century. They have been immensely isolated and persecuted, and according to the UN, Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet, and yet in the current situation it has been so far silent in the country due to the restrictions on their operations.
“It is quite frustrating for us to have homeless and poor Bengali Immigrants (Rohingya Muslims) on our land who are trying to take over our homeland and killing our people. We don’t even know what ‘Rohingya’ is. It is something that came up recently, and we surely are not going to accept it. These people are trying to set a different identity to gain importance” – Says a Burmese Non-Muslim Citizen
The Genocide of Rohingya Muslims
Despite having their family roots in the former Arkan state (present day Rakhine, Mayanmar), the Rohingya Muslims face the denial of citizenship to Burma, and a complete restriction on any involvement in the community of Burma, including jobs. Moreover, the Rohingya Muslims now face a more serious stance being taken by the local Burmese Buddhists that is to ‘make Mayanmar free of the minority Bengali Muslim community’.
Currently, not only are these Muslims stateless and being displaced and snatched off their own lands and property, but are also severely, and this time, more openly butchered, raped, and exiled. Around 123,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma to safety from the violence to states like Bangladesh. According to some reports, about 300,000 refugees are expected to flee to Bangladesh, where they are being given space.
Reports from Rohingya Muslims
“The soldiers entered our houses and started shooting at us indiscriminately. They did it even in the roads.” – says Mohammad, a victim of the Rakhine massacre.
“Those that ran were hacked to death. Others that got away were shot by the army,” – Said a 53 years old school teacher, Master Kamal – They were burning houses. We had to flee to save our lives.”
“We were all together but suddenly they started firing. I could not look back, because I thought I would die,” – Says a 12 years old boy, who witnessed five of his brothers shot dead by machine guns, and has not seen anyone else from his family ever since – “When I was hiding, I remembered the whole thing. I started crying.”
The local Rakhine Buddhists, who are the majority in the state, are reported to have killed hundreds of newborn children until now, and a greater number of men and women were shot dead or burned alive with a very horrifying ambition of ‘a better future for Burma’.
Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims
As also clearly stated in an article published on the CrowdH’s website in June 2017, a continuous path for a massive genocide has been paved politically for all this time, and an atrocious attempt of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims from Burma is becoming more open and violent.
Extremist Buddhist groups like 969 and Ma Ba Tha have been playing really hard in bringing up violence against these minority Muslims for the past many years, and have enjoyed an enormous support from the country’s high authorities.
And the most surprising thing is that despite all the chaos and the violence the Muslims are facing, and the documented reports of a series of atrocious incidents, the government of Burma as well as citizens are refusing to accept the reported incidents and claiming them to be ‘fake’ and ‘made up’
“All the images and the stories are intended only to achieve global attention.” – Says a Burmese Non-Muslim Citizen
He adds more:
“These terrorist people (Rohingya Muslims) themselves were involved in the murders and houses and villages being burned, with support from their groups like ARSA so that they could accuse us of it.”
“They want to take over our homeland which we are not going to allow. And if you are so sympathetic, how about you take them to Pakistan?”
What Could Have Caused All of This?
As we try and look critically into the Rohingya genocide issue, we can come across several realizations. While the whole world is currently bound to the fact of Rohingya Muslims being brought subject to an attempt of genocide by the Buddhist extremist community of Burma, having a look from different angles can bring forth some important points.
There has to be more than a single reason, that is ‘the local Buddhist community does not like the British-Indian Immigrants’, for a genocide as critical as this one.
The situation had started deteriorating with the rise of the term ‘Rohinngya’ in the state. Although these people have existed for a very long time, this term had not been very popular. The Non-Muslim community of Burma didn’t accept it because of their ‘British-Indian’ misconception.
However, at the same time the Rohingya Muslims have kept rejecting this wrong belief of their rival community. This escalated the situation and led to several chaotic events causing tens of thousands to die, and a lot more being tortured and displaced.
There are several factors that have caused this severe hatred between the Rohingya Muslims and the Buddhist community of Burma. Apart from the ignorance of the Burmese Buddhist community, these factors are very likely to be political and a sign of foreign interference in the issue.
An example is the attacks of Insurgent forces on the Burmese borders and in several parts of the country, mainly Rakhine, claiming representation to the Rohingya Muslim community. These events were later on compared to the attack of 911 by the Burmese Extremist groups and played a very big role in provoking a majority of the Buddhists against the Muslim minority.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army
Apart from that, the so called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which is a popular insurgent group active in the jungles of Rakhine has been involved in an attack on the Bangladesh-Burma Border. This group was formed after the 2012 riots against the Rohingya Muslims, and is led by NON-ROHINGYA foreign Muslims belonging to countries from Central Asia and the Middle-East. Moreover, Bangladesh and India are believed to support other active insurgent groups in the state.
Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi – a winner of the Noble Peace Award for fighting corruption, violence and justice, is seen being apologetic in this attempt of genocide against the Rohingya Muslims. In the past few years, she has kept rejecting all the reported incidents of murder and rape, and has termed them as ‘made up stories’. Apart from that, according to her, the Rohingya matter is being ‘Exaggerated’ by the Global community.
This ‘Noble Peace Award’ had once also lost her temper when interviewed by a Muslim journalist on the BBC News, and was heard muttering, “No one told me that I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim”. And it is not just her; if you look at an article published by CrowdH in 2015, it includes the citations from a number of political figures and leaders, who have not condemned the violence against the Muslims and instead, showed direct or indirect support for it.
What about Burma’s Human Rights group?
Although in the current situation, the government, the military and the extremist religious and civilian groups of Burma have so far applauded the whole violence against the Muslim minority, the country’s Human Rights group has kept condemning this violence and has raised voice against it.
The group made a report, which was based on around 350 interviews from people belonging to more than 50 towns since March 2016.
This report helped in understanding how critical the issue was, and how it was deteriorating with each day.
When this report was presented to the government, no immediate and prompt response was issued, and instead they denied any discrimination, and said that the millitary has been fighting the ‘terrorists’ to restore peace. The report also highlights that it is not only the Muslims belonging to the Rohingya ethnicity who are being targeted. Muslims of other ethnicities have also been disowned and persecuted.
“The transition to democracy has allowed popular prejudices to influence how the new government rules, and has amplified a dangerous narrative that casts Muslims as an alien presence in Buddhist-majority Burma,” – Burma’s Human Rights Network
Muslims, as a whole, have been refused of National ID cards, and in some places going to Massajid (Mosques) have been banned.
Moreover, around 21 villages, with high support from the authorities, have restricted entry of Muslims.
Above all the restrictions, the most awful restriction on the Muslims of Burma is on the access to Health and Education.
The Future of the Rohingya Muslims Crisis
The Rohingya Muslims crisis has been getting worse, and today, it is at a stage where a group of ignorant people want to wipe away a community, which has been living along with them for 13 centuries. However, the issue is still unfolding. And a lot is still being expected to come forth, especially the causes and effects of this genocide, and the political connections.
Moreover, the leaders of Burma are now very likely to face serious trials on International grounds, and they would need to answer for every single damage to the Rohingya Muslims they are responsible for.
The Rohingya Muslims of Burma, for generations, have witnessed and have been subject to horrifying persecution by their rival community. While most our generations are living our life in peace, with all the basic needs of food, shelter and health, and the luxuries of life, and most of us might still not be satisfied. But the communities like the Rohingya Muslims are living their lives under a severe violence against them, and the only luxury they pray for, each and every moment of their lives, is the luxury of life.