Who Are Rohingya Muslims And What’s Going On In Myanmar (Burma)?

Who Are Rohingya Muslims And What’s Going On In Myanmar (Burma)?
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Asia and the rest of the world have rallied against the reported genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar (Burma).

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The world’s attention is glued to Asia, but not far-eastern Asia, where North Korea has been rattling the world with its nuclear tests. The United Nations says at least 123,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh in the past 11 days. This news is shifting the world’s attention from North Korea’s nuclear provocations to the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma.

The reported “massacre” of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, whom authorities in the nation characterize as illegal immigrants, has set off waves of anger and protests across Asia. Rohingyas are an ethnic minority of about 1.1 million people in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

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Human rights groups claim Rohingya Muslims have been suffering violence since 2012, when government security forces and ultra-nationalist civilian groups launched a brutal campaign against the minority group. The situation spiraled out of control on August 25, when Rohingya insurgents reportedly attacked police posts in the country’s Rakhine state, killing 12 police officers in retaliation for the atrocities they are accused of perpetrating against the Rohingya.

Pro-government soldiers and vigilante groups responded with deadly force, burning Rohingya villages to the ground and shooting civilians, according to accounts from human rights groups.

Rising pressure in the international community

Almost 400 people have died in the latest round of unrest in Myanmar, with the international community accusing the Burmese military of committing crimes against humanity. Several countries have taken action against Myanmar. For example, Maldives suspended trade with the nation, and Turkey contributed $70 million in relief assistance to the Rohingya Muslims. However, experts believe the international community should do even more.

Sameera Khan, foreign policy analyst and human rights activist, told ValueWalk exclusively that the international community “should place diplomatic pressure on the government of Myanmar and denounce their ethnonationalism.”

Myanmar has seen the rise of Burmese ethno-nationalism since becoming independent from the United Kingdom in 1948. For decades, the United Nations and other organizations have accused Burmese authorities of consistent and systematic human rights violations.

Who are the Rohingya Muslims?

Rohingya Muslims mainly live in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, where Burmese authorities set up severe restrictions on basic human rights. The Aug. 25 attack on police posts prompted a furious response by the Myanmar military, which said it has killed at least 370 Rohingya fighters since then. Multiple accounts from human rights groups have said that civilians have been shot from pro-government helicopters and villages have been set on fire in a large-scale campaign by security forces and Buddhist vigilantes.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the Aug. 25 attacks, has reportedly been keeping Rohingya Muslims from fleeing their villages and urging them to stay and fight against the security forces. Nonetheless, at least 123,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since late August, the UN said on Tuesday.

Military operations against Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar are said to have intensified since last September. Human rights groups have been sharing unsettling accounts from witnesses who say that Burmese soldiers have been raping and murdering their people and setting their villages on fire. They’re also accused of burning the bodies of the Rohingya they killed to cover up the evidence, according to The Independent. Human rights activists also claim that security forces and vigilante groups have been throwing Rohingya babies into rivers and fire.

Who’s responsible for the “massacre” of Rohingya Muslims In Myanmar?

The reported atrocities of the Burmese military have plagued the image of Myanmar’s civilian leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Formerly known as a vocal defender of human rights, Mrs. Suu Kyi has struggled against military rule in Myanmar.

Even though Mrs. Suu Kyi’s control over the Burmese military has severe limitations by the country’s constitution, critics say the de facto leader of the nation has not done enough to protect Rohingya Muslims from persecution. Mrs. Suu Kyi and her government have previously said that the ethnic minority are migrants from Bangladesh and thus don’t deserve citizenship in Burma, even though their roots in modern-day Rakhine state in Myanmar can be traced back to the Eighth Century. Bangladesh has also refused to give the ethnic minority citizenship rights.

Fury in the international community

This latest time of unrest in Myanmar has attracted the international community’s attention to the existential problem of the unwanted and stateless Rohingya Muslims.

In Indonesia, hundreds of protesters have rallied for days outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta, demanding that the Indonesian government cut diplomatic ties with Myanmar over its apparent inhumane treatment of Rohingya Muslims. On Monday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with Mrs. Suu Kyi and Burmese army leaders to discuss the latest uptick in violence.

The Maldives reacted to the Burmese military’s reported atrocities immediately, suspending all trade activities and relations with Myanmar. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry of the Maldives demanded that the UN investigate the alleged human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

The Pakistani government said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar and demanded that Burmese authorities protect the rights of the ethnic minority. The Afghan government echoed a similar sentiment, condemning the reported “massacre” of Rohingya Muslims by Burmese security forces and urging human rights groups to investigate.

The Afghan Taliban, accused by many in the West of killing civilians in military campaigns against the Afghan government, also condemned what it referred to as “ethnic cleansing” during Eid al-Adha, the second of two major Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held phone calls with more than a dozen Muslim heads of state to discuss the Myanmar crisis. Erdogan also promised to discuss the alleged genocide of the Rohingya in Burma at this month’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

There has been no immediate sign that the furious response from the international community will stop the violence in Burma.

Video Courtesy: RT/ YouTube.

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Polina Tikhonova is a writer, journalist and a certified translator. Over the past 7 years, she has worked for a wide variety of top European, American, Russian, and Ukrainian media outlets. Polina holds a Master's Degree in English Philology from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Saint Petersburg State University. Her articles and news reports have been published by many newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs and online media sources across the globe. Polina is fluent in English, German, Ukrainian and Russian.
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  1. Am I supposed to be sad here and pretend I don’t know the dictate of Islam? Am I supposed to forget the 300 million plus people or more that have died by the hand of Islam over the last 1400 years? Am I supposed to forget that the Islamic Horde usurpers (in the form of Moors) were in North Africa and Southern Europe 500 years before the first Crusade? Am I to ignore the millions of slaves they sent back to Persia Anatolia and other lands, where they were dealt with in a manner beyond description. This all well before the same Islamic Hordes started selling Africans to the America’s as slaves.

    The Government of Islam’s dictate to the world:

    The Government of Islam started in Mecca, and then Mohammad moved them to Medina. They have spread throughout the world and their violence was only slowed during the Crusades, and again during the Ottoman Empire’s ending of the Caliphate by a post war dictate from the Allies. It is again advancing under the shield of Western apathy and colonial guilt, both of which are misplaced by the Socialist/Liberal Left. This led to another Caliphate being started in Syria which has been stopped. The Koran demands a Caliphate, so please be advised, there is no dealing with them.

    Don’t worry though, you’ll have several options. Everybody keeps acting like this is the end of the world. In fact you’ll be able to select from the following list of popular and seductive options:

    Option 1: Convert to Islam. (A very popular one) Got a good review on Rotten Tomatoes.
    Option 2: Become Dhimmi (pay an ongoing tax-Jizya), and be treated as a 2nd class citizen, even though you pay.
    Option 3: Don’t convert and die as per the Koran. (Not so popular-very hard to benefit from the results)

    I challenge anyone to malign or in any way defame these choices. Although your safety cannot be guaranteed if you do.

  2. its only the libtards and the muslim countries crying. i laughed at maldives suspending trade with myanmar. what does maldives even offer? shellfish? turkey maldives pakistan and indonesia can take in these people if they are so concerned.

  3. Even buddist people getting BP with these mslims, just imagine what this community doing with world. whatever the country these guys never change.

  4. My first experience in the area of West Burma began in 2003 when I went there as a physician for WHO to administer TB tests

    One of the first things that I noticed among the Rohyngia–children everywhere. This in itself is one root cause of the conflict because it is quite impossible to provide jobs fast enough for such a population increase and young men get angry when they are poor and idle. The Myanmar government has tried various ways encouraging birth control without success. My own records showed a reproductive rate of 6.45 compared to the Burmese rate of 2.47, a ratio of 3:1. This puts an impossible strain on natural resources such as fish populations and last year the fishing season up there had to be closed for the first time.

    The Rohingya immigrated from SW India, later called East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, for at least 150 years and this was made easy by lack of border enforcement. Originally called “Bengali-Muslims”, the name “Rohingya” was fluffed up from antiquity and adopted about 1960 as a way of identifying themselves as an ethnic group rather than illegal immigrants. Burma, like many countries, does not grant citizenship automatically upon birth.

    The Rohingya look like East Indians, dressed like East Indians, are Muslims, do not speak the same language and do not assimilate with the locals who are Buddhists. This failure to assimilate persists today and is another root cause of the problem. They act like a state within a state.

    In 1947 “Bengali-Muslims’ Mujahid Insurgency” as it is called by the Burmese, started after the central government refused to grant a separate Muslim state in Rankine Provence. Being better armed with WWII surplus, the Rohingya killed many Burmese and destroyed villages in the north of the Provence, near Bengal.

    During the uprising some of the Rohingya flew the Pakistani flags and attempted to separate the northern provinces from Burma.

    Over the last ten years, outside influences have brought the pot to a boil. Salafi Islamic influence has increased considerably, resulting in more mosques, Islamic schools, beards, threats and attempts to expand the Islamic influence.

    In this case (as is so often the case) there is plenty of blame to go around and no good solution in sight. Of course the very worst of all the bad choices would be jihad.

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