Myanmar in Crisis: Rohingya minority forced to flee military violence
Tensions between the Buddhist majority and Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar have existed for many years. The Rohingya are considered illegal Bengali immigrants and are constantly denied recognition from the government of Myanmar. The 1982 Citizenship Law denied the Rohingya’s citizenship despite the people living in the region for generations. The Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar because of the restrictions and policies placed by the government and more recently because of the violence committed by the state.
The most recent uproar began with the violence on August 25th, when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state. Violence between the militants and state have existed for years as the Rohingya fight for recognition. They say the military and Rakhine Buddhists responded to the incident of the 25th with brutal widespread attacks against the entire minority group. Consequently the last two weeks have seen fighting between the government’s military and militants, all while non-violent minority civilians suffer.
Those fleeing the region say Myanmar’s military is burning their villages and attacking them. About 270,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought shelter in Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar two weeks ago, according to the UN. Those who have fled the northern Rakhine state share stories of beatings and killings at the hands of the countries security forces and Buddhist youths.
On Sunday the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) announced a truce, urging Myanmar’s army to lay down their weapons as well. It was an attempt to allow aid and rescue to take place. The Myanmar government’s spokesman Zaw Htay however, has said that Myanmar would not negotiate with “terrorists”; showing no end to the violence for thousands of civilians.
The recent events are sparking concern and protests across the world, and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being criticised for failing to protect the minority group. She is a recipient of a Noble Peace Prize for her pro-democracy activism while she spent years under house arrest. Recently though, she has done nothing to stop the violence against the minority group; instead she has tried to convince the world that the violence against the Rohingya has been inaccurately overplayed. This argument is unconvincing considering the sheer number of Rohingya that are fleeing their homes, and their experiences of abuse.
The Rohingya is a minority that has been persecuted for years with a relatively muted response from international community. OFWI is committed to fighting for and protecting the persecuted people around the world. We ask that you join us, and raise a voice for the persecuted.
- Write the Embassy of Myanmar and raise a voice for those that can’t speak for themselves. The military’s persecution of Rohingya must stop.
- Contact Foreign Affairs leaders asking for aid and a halt to the violence against the persecuted Rohingya minority.
Embassy of Myanmar in Canada
336. Island Park Drive
Ottawa, ON, K1Y 0A7
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
Message the U.S. State Department and ask Secretary Tillerson