Hurricanes, fires and intense politics have been claiming the media’s, and the world’s, attention recently. Therefore, many people are completely unaware of the serious issue in Myanmar.
In recent weeks, at least 120,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group who reside primarily within the Rakhine state in Myanmar. At least 1.1 million people live in Myanmar. Many people have stated that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Several years ago, the religious tension between the Buddhists and the Rohingya escalated into extreme violence. Since then, thousands were forced to flee and many have been displaced. It was calculated that approximately 1,000 civilians were killed as a result of this violence in late 2016.
On Aug. 25, Rohingya militants attacked police outposts and a military base, resulting in the deaths of members of security forces. In response, the Myanmar military says that it killed 370 Rohingya fighters.The Rohingya who have fled Myanmar have claimed that the Rohingya have become the victims of extreme violence in Rakhine. They told horrifying stories of mass murders, rapes and entire homes being burnt down. They have described seeing civilians mercilessly shot down. The Myanmar government has come forth claiming that these reports are false and distorted. However, the U.N. has deemed these tragedies as a case of ethnic cleansing.
In addition to those who have fled, many people who are still in Myanmar allegedly face threats of extreme violence and food shortages, according to Amnesty International. The Myanmar government has accused aid agencies of working with Rohingya militants. The accusation was called out as unsupported. The aid agencies have been refused access to the Rakhine state by the government.
Myanmar’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been criticized for not speaking up about the issue. She and her government have argued that the Rohingya do not deserve citizenship rights as they are immigrants from Bangladesh. It should also be noted that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi does not have control over the military.
The violence within Myanmar is cause for concern. We can only hope that it does not escalate further. The growing discord between the ethnic groups within Myanmar will only cause more violence in the future.