Photo courtesy of Christophe Achambault | Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes in Myanmar after being targeted in what a United Nations official called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The Rohingya group is a stateless ethnic minority in the country and is subjected to regular persecution.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N.’s top human rights official, has called the crisis in Myanmar a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” His statement comes after nearly 471,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine state in southwestern Myanmar. An estimated 400 have been killed since violence that erupted in late August, according to Reuters.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked several police posts in the northwestern portion of the Rakhine state on August 25. It was this action that provoked the military response that has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands.
“It seems like the actions of a few impacted the masses,” senior biology major Akhil Kavuri said. “I just feel like I’m reading articles about these topics much more often. It’s a lot easier to blame a specific group than to look at the deep root of the problem, whatever the economic or social problem is.”
The Rohingya are currently an ethnic minority in Myanmar, which is a predominantly Buddhist country, who are subjected to regular persecution. They are currently not a recognized ethnic group in Myanmar and therefore have not been granted citizenship. After a 1962 coup, the Rohingya were only given foreign identity cards, offering them limited mobility and leaving them without citizenship status.
“I feel like there hasn’t been enough media coverage to look into it… This has been going on for so long, and nobody knows about this, not even me,” senior communications major Deena Dakhiel said. “(The) government is not being held accountable, and, again, the U.N. isn’t doing anything.”
The Myanmar government claims that it is taking part in counter-terrorist operations against ARSA, which the nation declared a terrorist organization.
al-Hussein has stated that the U.N. has received “multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians.”
There have also been unconfirmed reports of land mines placed on paths that civilians have been using to escape to neighboring Bangladesh.
“I don’t even know if I’m desensitized to it, which is terrible, you know?” Kavuri said. “If I read this two, three years ago, I would have been surprised, but I feel like I hear a lot more of these issues on almost a monthly basis.”
By: Savin Matozzi ~Copy Editor~