« The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar » – M. John

« The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar »

By: Maung John

Table of contents – Table de matières – Indice – Inhaltsverzeichnis – 指數
English: Minorities – – Italiano: Minoranze
François: Minorités – – Português: Minoridades
Deutsch: Minderheiten – – Español: Minorías – – 中國人: 並通過

1. Introduction

“Soon, the world will witness a remarkable sight: a beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner presiding over 21th-century concentration camps,” writes a New York Times correspondent.[1] He was referring to Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, a foremost diplomat, Prime Minister-elect and now the present State Counsellor of the Republic of Union of Myanmar. Even as democracy begins to see light in the present Myanmar, racism and xenophobic tendencies are also on the rise especially with regard to the Rohingya Muslims. For instance, the government refuses to mention the name “Rohingya” in its official discourse. Suu Kyi’s party refused to nominate a single Muslim in the recent elections. On the one hand, people assess her as too soft on the Rohingyas as she does not denounce them. On the other hand, others see her as sacrificing the basic humanitarian principle of defending minorities for her own political convenience. This is how complex the problem is on the ground.

[1] Nicholas Kristof, “Myanmar Peace Prize Winner and the Crime against Humanity,”  (accessed 11.13.2016).

At the moment, there are some 26,000 Rohingya refugees in two official camps in Cox’s Bazar, an area in Bangladesh bordering with Myanmar. There are also an estimated 1 to 1.5 million Rohingyas living inside Myanmar. Both the Rohingyas inside Myanmar and in Bangladesh are trying to escape from the miserable lives of the refugee camps. Approximately 2500 Rohingya arrived in Thailand by sailing southwards in the Andaman sea; many others went to Malaysia and Indonesia.[2] These countries refused to accept these boat people and tried to send them back to Myanmar. This was recently dramatized by the dropping of food packages for them at sea in order to avoid their boats from landing on the shores of Thailand.[3] But the Rohingyas felt that it is better for them to die abroad than be sent back home.

Back home, as of this writing, military forces are continuously bombarding three Rohingya villages to flush out what they assess as “Muslim extremists”. Human Rights Watch reported that 25 people, including women and children, have been killed, more than 400 houses and buildings burned, and thousands of families displaced as internal refugees. Moreover, independent media and humanitarian aid agencies are not given full access to these areas.[4]

[2] Htoo Chit, “Rohingya Boat People form [from] Northern Arakan Sate of Burma 2007–8,” GHRE–FED Report (no date).

[3] “Food Parcels Dropped to Rohingya Boats,” The Sydney Morning Herald (15 May 2015) (accessed 11.10.2016).

[4] “Massive Destruction in Rohingya Villages,” (accessed 17 November 2016).

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