The most persecuted minority in the world.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group who have been forcibly evicted by Buddhist extremists from Myanmar, a country bordering Thailand. They are now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh in hopes of seeking refuge away from the terrorizing government. In just a few months, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have fled Myanmar because of the tyrannizing oppression and lack of rights.
The Rohingya are not recognized as an ethnic group and there are strict requirements for citizenship. 1982 was the year that the Myanmar government replaced the citizenship laws set in place in 1948, and since then, they have been rendered stateless. In order for them to become Myanmarese citizens, they need proof of ancestry before the year 1948 (the year that Myanmar, then Burma, became independent from Britain) and fluency in the national language, Burmese. Many of the Rohingya, however, are not able to access this information because it is not available to them through the government.
Despite what may seem like recent oppression towards them, their suffering has gone on for many decades. In the early years of Myanmar independence, the Rohingya were able to participate in politics; it was not until the late 1970s when nativist attitudes began to arise, and the country wanted to protect themselves against the ‘illegal immigration’. They forced the Rohingya to migrate to bordering countries like Bangladesh, a ban that happened 3 times in the past 50 years. It was then that the country started to exclude the Rohingya from political opportunities. They couldn’t vote or get citizenship. The violence against the Rohingya progressively got worse and worse.
Citizenship is the least of the hardships that the Rohingya are facing. At least 5 mass graves have recently been discovered by the Associated Press in a Rohingya village in Myanmar. 15 men were playing a game in the village of Gu Dar Pyin when the gunshots started. After the massacre, only three men remained, left to try to recognize their friends buried in two of the five graves. This brutal slaughter is only one of many that have happened in Myanmar against the Muslim group. The five graves were all unreported by the government until discovered by the press. They refuse to acknowledge the graves except one, claiming that they’re filled with the corpses of 10 terrorists in the Inn Din village. Because of the denial by the Myanmar government, it is suggested that there are more unmarked graves from the numerous other attacks on the Rohingya.
The brutality of the government is now classified by the United Nations as a genocide. Remarkably, the events in Myanmar have gotten little media coverage. Not many people seem as aware of this genocide that can be likened to the Holocaust, though it’s one that is happening right now.
If you want to help, organizations such as UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, and Save the Children are working in Bangladesh in the refugee camps to give the Rohingya food, water, clothing, and other essentials. Additionally, Brandon Stanton, the man behind “Humans of New York”, is raising money to build houses for the refugees. Monsoon season is approaching in Bangladesh and a majority of them are living in little plastic tents. You can donate here as well as read the Rohingya refugee interviews here.