Who are Rohingyas?


Rohingyas are Muslim minority groups that belongs to Myanmar also known as Burma. Rohingya population is an estimate of 1.3 million and 140,000 are internally displaced. And an estimate of 120,000 Rohingyas had fled from Burma to adjacent countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Apparently, their ancestors have lived in Burma for centuries, but the Burmese officials does not accept the fact that Rohingya even exists. They're denied the rights to citizenship, food, shelter and education. Why? The answer concludes to fear.

More than 80 percent of people follows Buddhism in Myanmar, however, it's feared that Muslims will conquer the region in the future and Buddhism may completely disappear. The government officials in this case does not consider Rohingya as citizens of the country. They classify Rohingya as "Bengali" referring to them as illegal immigrants from adjacent country Bangladesh. In addition, the 1982 Citizenship Law acknowledges Rohingya as "resident foreigners" not citizens which makes them liable to discrimination and also sets restrictions to their movement. Rohingyas are not allowed to travel to other parts of the country or abroad. However, the international law states that anyone who is legally residing in the region of a state must have the right to freedom of motion and residence within the state.

When it comes to education, Rohingyas are able to complete up to elementary school since secondary education are only permitted to citizens of Burma. And Rohingyas aren't considered citizens therefore, they cannot get admission to state-run schools. Due to lack of education and citizenship, Rohingyas are deprived of the rights to employment in government agencies. They cannot be instructors, health workers or have any other profession that includes involvement in the local government. Forced labor is also being implemented by local government authorities. Men and young children are being forced to unpaid labor in the construction of roads and villages and profit making trade. Rohingyas that declines or protest about it are verbally or physically threatened with the fear of death. The Burmese government breaches the obligation under the U.N Convention on the Rights of the Child by imposing child labor on Rohingya children.


Sectarian Violence started in Myanmar in 2012 when a rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman by a Rohingya sparked a strong reaction in the Buddhist community. The riots and violent confrontations between Buddhist and Muslims killed hundreds of Rohingya Muslims dead and 140,000 displaced as entire neighborhoods were burned to the ground. In March 2013, a simple argument in a jewelry shop turns into deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims which left more than 40 people dead and the neighborhood completely destroyed. And in January 2014, 48 Rohingya Muslims were killed in their village by local security forces and Rakhine Buddhist mob. However, the government denies any of the killings.

There's many more cruel attack on this most persecuted Rohingya minority. And the justification these Buddhist radical provides for their crime is that these people known as "Rohingya" are undocumented immigrants trying to get access to Myanmar. It's very tragic that whenever there's an attack on the Rohingya community, the Burmese police officers and army are always present in the area, but they'd rather standby and watch silently. Many Buddhist monks are also entirely supportive of mistreatment of Rohingya led by the governement. And of course the state media always assist in concealing this anti Rohingya violence from the world.

Moreover, thousands of Rohingya were forced to move to government-built refugee camps in Sittwe after  bloodshed violence between Buddhist and Muslims in 2012. But you can call it 21st century concentration camps where men, women and children are dying of slow starvation and malnutrition in these camps. It makes work much easier for the Burmese government because only thing the officials care about is how to get rid of Rohingya from living in Myanmar. So whether they die out of starvation or jump on boats to make deadly voyages, no one really cares as long as they depart from Burma. That's why genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya is in full effect in Myanmar. Rohingya population are so weak and helpless that they are giving in to the pressure deliberately created by the Burmese government. 

140826160044-rohingya-horizontal-large-galleryRosheda Bagoung, holds her malnourished child inside the tent at Dar Paing refugee camp.

SITTWE, BURMA - MAY 10: Rosheda Bagoung, holds her malnourished child inside the tent at Dar Paing refugee camp on May 10, 2014 in Sittwe, Burma. 150,000 Rohingya IDP (internally displaced people) are currently imprisoned in refugee camps outside of Sittwe in Rakhine State in Western Myanmar. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the primary supplier of medical care within the camps, was banned in March by the Myanmar government. Follow up attacks by Buddhist mobs on the homes of aid workers in Sittwe put an end to NGO operations in the camps. Though some NGOs are beginning to resume work, MSF remains banned and little to no healthcare is being provided to most Rohingya IDPs. One Rohingya doctor is servicing 150,000 refugees with limited medication. Several Rakhine volunteer doctors sporadically enter the camps for two hours a day. Births are the most complicated procedures successfully carried out in the camps, requests to visit Yangon or Sittwe hospitals for life threatening situations require lengthy applications and are routinely denied. Malnutrition and diarrhea are the most widespread issues, but more serious diseases like tuberculosis are going untreated and could lead to the rise of drug resistant tuberculosis. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

About 100,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled by smuggling boats since 2012 and hundreds of people has been trafficked or sold as slaves. Circumstances are so extremely critical in Burma that thousands of Rohingya rather face the frightening sea and risk their lives than being killed in Myanmar. The United Nations described Rohingya as "friendless", that no one wants to be friend with.

Rohingya migrants are pictured on a boat off the southern Thai island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea on May 14, 2015. The boat crammed with scores of Rohingya migrants -- including many young children -- was found drifting in Thai waters on May 14, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, with passengers saying several people had died over the last few days. Dozens of visibly weak-looking people were on the deck of the stricken vessel, which was found apparently adrift several kilometres off Koh Lipe. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)


Reference List:

  1. http://www.irinnews.org/report/96719/bangladesh-myanmar-more-rohingya-boat-people-set-flee-violence
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/09/ten-percent-of-rohingya-in-burma-have-fled-on-boats
  3. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/17/rohingya-burma-refugees-boat-migrants
  4. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-18395788
  5. https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/22/burma-end-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-muslims
  6. http://www.cfr.org/global/global-conflict-tracker/p32137#!/conflict/sectarian-violence-in-myanmar
  7. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/asia/rohingya-refugee-ships-explainer/#
  8. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-02.htm
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/who-are-the-rohingyas_n_7328828.html

  1. http://time.com/2888864/rohingya-myanmar-burma-camps-sittwe/
  2. http://problemattic.net/2014/11/rohingya-concentration-camps-at-sittwe
  3. http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/01/29/genocide-and-ethnic-cleansing-of-the-rohingya-people-in-myanmar

« (Previous News)