Who are Rohingya Muslims? Why is Myanmar government killing them?

Muslims living in the Rohingya are often described as “the world’s most prosecuted minority”. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Muslims living in Rohingya. They have been denied citizenship since 1982 which makes them effectively stateless. 1.1 Muslims are living without any passport and identity.

Nearly all the Rohingya Muslims are living in the western coastal state of Rakhine. They are not allowed to leave the state without government’s permission.

Where are the Rohingya Muslim from?

Muslims have been living in Myanmar since the 12th century. During the British Rule (1824-1948), there was a major migration of Muslims from India and Bangladesh to Myanmar. Myanmar was considered a province of India that time. After the independence of Myanmar in 1948, the government considered this migration as “Illegal”.

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Why are Rohingya Muslims not recognized?

After the independence of Myanmar, the Union Citizenship Act was passed defining the ethnicities which could gain citizenship in Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslim ethnicity was not included in that.

After the 1962 coup in Myanmar, things changed in a positive way for the Rohingya Muslims. They were required to obtain national registration cards. However, they were only given foreign identity cards due to which there were limited education and job opportunities for them.

In 1982, a new citizenship law was passed which made almost all the Rohingya Muslims stateless. The law required that in order to obtain citizenship, they need to provide documentary proof that their family was living in Myanmar before 1948.

Most of the Rohingya Muslims could not provide any documentary proof. As a result, their right to study, work, travel, marry and practice their religion and access to health facilities has been restricted. Since 1970, there have been many attacks on the Rohingya Muslims due to which around 1 million Muslims have migrated to other countries.

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What are the recent attacks on Rohingya Muslims?

9 border police officers were killed in Myanmar in October 2016 after which Myanmar government has started attacking the Muslim villages in Rakhine State. Since the violence has started, rights groups have documented fires burning in at least 10 areas of Rakhine State.

More than 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence and escaped to Bangladesh border but hundreds of thousands are still trapped in the area waiting for their peaceful death. However, according to UN reports, the Bangladesh government has pushed back these 50,000 refugees back to Myanmar. They have not been granted entry to Bangladesh.

The state Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to really discuss the issues of Rohingya Muslims with anyone. Aung San Suu Kyi and her government do not recognize Muslims as part of the ethnic group and even part of Myanmar. Perhaps they don’t even consider them as a human being or even an animal.

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It is sad to say that no Islamic country other than Turkey and Saudi Arabia are taking any pain for the genocide of Muslims in Myanmar. Turkish President has approached Bangladesh government and requested them to open borders for Burma Muslims and they will pay for all the expenses.

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia has been helping Muslims of Burma since ‘half a century’. Recently, King Salman announced Saudi Iqama for 1 Million Burmese Muslims. If they come to Saudi Arabia, they will be offered free Iqama by the Saudi Government. 

All the Muslim states need to get together on a single platform and must raise their voice to stop the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. If 1800 million Muslims cannot do anything against 55 million Myanmar population, all of us should die out of shame.

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.