The horrific ethnic cleansing and genocide being perpetrated against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by military and paramilitary forces left at least 400 dead following the most recent attacks. The total number killed has been estimated to be nearly 2,000, with some Rohingya activists claiming an even higher death toll.
Aung Su Kyi, a Nobel Prize laureate and de facto leader of Myanmar, has been criticized for being morally irresponsible in regards to responding to attacks against the Rohingya population, as well as accused of “legitimizing genocide.”
The killing of Rohingya Muslims is part and parcel of a wider scorched-earth campaign — in addition to the killings, over 400,000 Rohingya have been displaced. Many of them are starving and have been denied access to aid by the government of Myanmar.
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This merciless crackdown on the Rohingya was inspired in part by attacks against security forces, with the most recent attack taking place in August, as well as widespread general discrimination against Rohingya Muslims.
In Myanmar, regardless of familial ancestry, Rohingya Muslims are often referred to as illegal Bengali immigrants, an accusation that is without merit.
The Rohingya people, described by some as “the most persecuted in the world,” are facing an uphill battle for recognition — a struggle compounded by the stark truth that the law in Myanmar is not on their side.
A 1982 law passed by the country’s military junta stripped the Rohingya of access to full citizenship. Now, unless they can prove that they’ve lived in Myanmar for 60 years, the Rohingya are denied the chance to gain citizenship, which in turn results in restrictions on their right to work, marry, and their ability to access healthcare services.
The fight that lies ahead for the Rohingya, who are denied even simple recognition as one of Myanmar’s 135 official ethnic groups, will be perilous, and it doesn’t help that Myanmar’s military state is still being sold weapons by countries like Israel, which has sold them arms for years. Those enabling this bloodshed are just as complicit in it.
Top photo | A Rohingya Muslim woman, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, lies unconscious on the shore of the Bay of Bangal after the boat she was traveling in capsized at Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Nearly three weeks into a mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar, thousands were still flooding across the border Thursday in search of help and safety in teeming refugee settlements in Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)