Have You Even Heard Of The Rohingya?

The Rohingya is a population of people that occupy the land of western Myanmar (previously called Burma), they are a minority in the asian country and they follow the religion Prophet Mohammed brought, Islam. The Rohingya have lived in the area of Arakan where they have lived for centuries and had served Buhddist monks until muslim traders arrived and freed them from what had appeared to be slavery. Arakan is now home to 800,000 Rohingya people which is the part of Myanmar that shares borders with Bangladesh.

The successing governments in Myanmar today do not give any rights to the Rohingya and commits crimes against humanity against them, many fled the country and Bangladesh is now a home for 400,000 of them. The Mynmar government does not even recognize them as citezens but rather as “Stateless-Bengalis”, which also puts pressure on Bangladesh to give them a citizenship when they are actually burmese. This hatered started in 1785 when the Buddhists from the south of Mynmar attacked and occupied the Arakan region and killed most of the men that held the muslim beliefs and the number reached more than 35,000 men. At that time people fled to the Bengal region which was occupied under the British Raj in India. That changed for a short time period when the British controlled the Arakan regeion in 1826, but then they had to re-think strategy against a big Japanese expansion in South East Asia and the rohingya still had friends and seeked help from the British but, they acted as spies for the Japanese which lead them to a crucial turning point when the Japanese knew about such connections and the Japanese used rape, torture and murder against them which made them flee back to Bengal after the British had asked them to return back and fill the empty lands to re-do the farming they used to do back in Arkan. Then after World War II, both ronhingya and buddhists formed military and caused a lot murderous scenes, and they have even campaign for a seperation and forming a country, but all failed however and the rohingya took it really hard when the coup d’tat happened in 1962 by General Ne Win and since that time, the rohingya have been declared as non-burmese and massacres cooled down since then (or at least what the media knows) but, another massacre happened in 2012 and killed aproximately 200 people and displaced 100,000.

The history above of ethnic cleansing is taking place due to and religious bias and racism of the Burmese against the ronhingya that have adopted the new religion and they have already looked different from the authentic “Asian” look.

This history of violence between the Rkahine and the Rohingya lead to much greater complexity today. According to the United Nations, the rohingya have been residing in Mynmar for centuries and the Burmese say that they have only started occupying the land in the mid 20th century. The most recent even was the killings and displacement of the rohingya in 2012 after what is believed to be a rape case of a Rakhine woman by three rohnigya men, which angered the Buddhists and lead them to kill 10 muslims on a bus, which then lead the muslims to go on riots against the oppression, which lead to more oppression with the killing of 80 people in June alone, in 2012 and by October, aproximately 100,000 had to flee to camps or to Bangladesh to seek saftey and shelter, away from rape, torture and death. The problem here is also the fact that the government in the commercial capital Yangon supports the actions of the Rakhine against the Rohingya and the military often commits crimes against the people of Arakan. Many issues come to mind of why does this even happen?, but there are a few aspects that might make it clear.

It is very intertwining and therefore attention should be paid to details. The causes of these genocides are the relationships between religious views, ethnicity, natural resources and nationalism. Of course it is quite obvious that it is for religious views because these people served the Buddhist monks at one point in time and converted to Islam; and just as the case for black skinned people in America they Rohingya look different and therefore are inferior to the “original” people of the land this gives them enough reason, however what is not underlined is that the Rohingya are mostly farmers and farming is a relatively stable job (does not mean it is well paid) in Asia and it is the traditional job too, this might be a reason for the rakhines to be furious about the rohingya taking there farming land. Then we have the government that is indirectly advocaing this violence via torture by its military and hence the nationalist feeling that other Burmese might feel when they commit these crimes.

Well, it is normal that such issues would involve people and governments around the world and there are many authorities that took an actor role in this conflict. The most important is the “world government” more known as the United Nations which has made the effort to look into the issue through it’s General Assembly and that was done by another actor which is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation which condemns the acts of violence committed by the Burmese government, and their main interest is basically defending the people of their own religion. Furthermore, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom also showed concern through their officials, however, their interests are maybe different than others because this is a conflict that is very far away, but they have to act because of the power position they hold.

Another imprtant actor is the neighboring country of Bangladesh, which is highly affected by this conflict and has to accommodate all the fleeing rohingya which are about 400,000 people, so the interests of Bangladesh would be to put this conflict to rest. Saudi Arabia also played an important role by donating 50 Million USD to the rohingya to rebuild the destruction that happened in the riots and the attacks, because Saudi Arabia is the home were Islam started and muslims interests around the world are their interests as the Council of Ministers says that they ‘condemn the ethnic cleansing campaign and brutal attacks against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya citizens and it urged the international community to protect Muslims in Myanmar’.

Most of the actors mentioned above, from countries to organisations, have stopped looking seriously into the issue, and the main two actors remaining are Mynmar and Bangladesh, and the fight is more serious than ever with Bangladesh threatning to expell 270,000 of the rohingya that resides on its land, back to Mynmar when the rohingya are actually still fleeing in search for a better life elsewhere. A fisherman from the stateless citizens had been shot dead by the Burmese military after finishing his work and going on the way home. This happened on the 19th of December of the year 2014, so actions are yet to be seen.

In conclusion, it is quite obvious in one’s opinion that all the history behind these tragic genocides is simple ethinc cleansing just like many people, governments and organisations. However, in one’s belief it seems to be that this issue is not taking its correct position in the world of media neither does it in the political world and that can be due to the fasle bad image people have about Islam and/or because the conflict is so far away from anyone both in distance and effectivness that people cannot care enough. The thought mentioned leads to the conclusion that the burmese government, the rakhine people and Bangladesh will not stop harsh circumstances that the rohingya are already experiencing and one believes that this situation will definitely deteriorate further if no more attention is given to the problem.

Almustafa Mahmoud Khalid 

 Featured image via  Christophe Archambault/AFP













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