In-Depth

The denied oppression of Myanmar’s Rohingya people

It’s hard to think of a people more oppressed at the moment than the Rohingya. But you wouldn’t know that from Myanmar government statements.
 

The official line is that security forces have not committed abuses against the Rohingya. Yet, credible allegations of soldiers raping, killing, and setting villages on fire began to emerge during counter-insurgency operations launched after a Rohingya militant group attacked police posts on 9 October 2016.
 

While the militants have brought nothing but more misery to the Rohingya community, a quick study of history shows that it’s unsurprising that an insurgency emerged.
 
The Rohingya are an ethnic minority Muslim group with roots that stretch back hundreds of years in western Myanmar, in what is now called Rakhine State, on the frontier with Bangladesh. Yet almost all the approximately one million Rohingya in overwhelmingly-Buddhist Myanmar are denied citizenship and forced to live under an apartheid system.
 
Over decades, terrible living conditions and attacks on their communities by both the military and their ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbours have driven many out of the country – a situation that sits well with many in Myanmar who consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
 
As many as half a million Rohingya have crossed the border seeking shelter in Bangladesh, which doesn’t recognise them as citizens since they are from Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands more are in Malaysia, and the Rohingya diaspora stretches around the world.
 
An entire people denied their basic human rights, the Rohingya find it increasingly difficult to live in their home country of Myanmar, and harder still to find refuge anywhere else.

It’s hard to think of a people more oppressed at the moment than the Rohingya. But you wouldn’t know that from Myanmar government statements.
 

The official line is that security forces have not committed abuses against the Rohingya. Yet, credible allegations of soldiers raping, killing, and setting villages on fire began to emerge during counter-insurgency operations launched after a Rohingya militant group attacked police posts on 9 October 2016.
 

While the militants have brought nothing but more misery to the Rohingya community, a quick study of history shows that it’s unsurprising that an insurgency emerged.
 
The Rohingya are an ethnic minority Muslim group with roots that stretch back hundreds of years in western Myanmar, in what is now called Rakhine State, on the frontier with Bangladesh. Yet almost all the approximately one million Rohingya in overwhelmingly-Buddhist Myanmar are denied citizenship and forced to live under an apartheid system.
 
Over decades, terrible living conditions and attacks on their communities by both the military and their ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbours have driven many out of the country – a situation that sits well with many in Myanmar who consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
 
As many as half a million Rohingya have crossed the border seeking shelter in Bangladesh, which doesn’t recognise them as citizens since they are from Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands more are in Malaysia, and the Rohingya diaspora stretches around the world.
 
An entire people denied their basic human rights, the Rohingya find it increasingly difficult to live in their home country of Myanmar, and harder still to find refuge anywhere else.