GENOCIDE EMERGENCY: WESTERN MYANMAR, RAKHINE STATE: THE ROHINGYA
The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority living in northern Rakhine state in Western Myanmar. They face religious and ethnic discrimination by Myanmar’s military regime, which refuses to recognize the Rohingya as Myanmar citizens. The Rohingya people are not considered one of 135 legally recognized ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, but they have lived in Myanmar for centuries, and Bangladesh will not accept them as its citizens.
The first Rohingya people arrived in Myanmar as early as the seventh century, but the Myanmar military regime maintains, to this day, that the Rohingya immigrated to Myanmar from India while under British colonial rule. This disregard for earlier settlers prohibits the Rohingya from being legally recognized as a minority group in Myanmar.
The Rohingya have permanently settled in Western Myanmar and make up 1/3 of the population of the Rakhine State. There are close to 750,000 Rohingyas in Rakhine State.
Because of the Myanmar military regime’s denial of legal recognition, the Rohingya are denied fundamental human rights and freedom, and the military regime consistently perpetrates human rights violations against this vulnerable population.
- The regime refuses to issue identification cards to Rohingya, which are necessary to be able to travel, as well as to obtain passports and enroll in higher education.
- They are denied land and property rights and ownership. The land on which they live can be taken away at any time.
- The Rohingya people are barred from government employment.
- Marriage restrictions are imposed on them. They are limited to two children per couple.
- They are subject to forced labor, extortion and other coercive measures.
- Public services such as health and education are neglected. Illiteracy is 80%.
- More than 40,000 Rohingya children in western Myanmar are deprived of rights to travel, go to school or to marry in the future, because their parents had an unauthorized marriage or exceeded the two-child limit the Myanmar government has imposed on the Rohingya. These blacklisted children are refused birth registration, and so are not included in family lists and must be hidden during the authorities’ population checks.
- The Rohingya are subject to curfews and other restrictions on basic freedoms.
The Rohingya are a dehumanized and persecuted minority in Myanmar. Many attempt to flee to Bangladesh or Malaysia in rickety boats, but are not accorded the rights of refugees in those countries. Some boat people drown.
Among the crimes against humanity the Myanmar military regime is committing against the Rohingya are: denial of citizenship, imprisonment in displaced persons camps, widespread murder of civilians, denial of the right to travel, denial of education rights for children, and denial of food and medicines.
Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for the Rohingya of Myanmar. Genocide Watch recommends that:
- The Myanmar Parliament should pass legislation that grants full citizenship to the Rohingya, with all rights of citizens of Myanmar, including the right to hold land titles, travel, and other rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Plan measures to dissolve Rohingya displaced persons’ camps with international assistance, especially from countries in Asean;
- Myanmar authorities should cease human rights violations against the Rohingya;
- Bangladesh should adhere to its obligations under the UN Convention on the Protection of Refugees, by accepting boats of Rohingya refugees, permitting them to settle in refugee camps until they can be repatriated with full citizenship rights in Myanmar.
Country Profile: Myanmar (Burma)
The state of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a melting pot of political tensions. Myanmar has been subject to several occupations by foreign militaries. In response, a surge of nationalism prompted the different ethnic minorities to fight together against the imperialist nations of Britain and Japan. Following the pull out of foreign militaries, ethnic minorities were promised their opportunity to secede from the nation of Burma if they chose to do so. However, the assassination of Aung San left the nation without a capable leader. Burma became a police state in 1962 under the socialist leader, General Ne Win. The constitutional agreement to allow the ethnic minorities to secede was nullified. Since then, numerous secessionist movements have fought the Burmese Army, representing the Karen, Shan, Kachin, and other peoples. These movements have been viciously suppressed, with many crimes against humanity and even genocidal massacres committed by the Burmese Army.
The socialist party has continued to oppress the people of Myanmar (Burma) by nationalizing all property, staging fixed elections, and killing and imprisoning those who speak out against the regime. They continue brutal attacks and campaigns against the ethnic minorities in Myanmar; the Kachin, Karen, Shan, Rakhin, and Mon. They have also violated international treaties pertaining to human rights including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The armed forces of the SLORC party (State Law and Order Restoration Council) committed heinous crimes against humanity by using rape as a weapon of war. Women not only run a high risk of being raped, but lack access to healthcare because of their refugee-like status in their own country. Many people have fled Myanmar and are refugees in the surrounding countries of Bangladesh, China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Myanmar conscripts children into its armed forces, as do the resistance movements to Burmese rule. These children, usually between the ages of 15-17, are forcibly removed from their families and homes and forced to fight for the government or one of the minority rebel militias. The UN International Labor Organization received 201 complaints of child recruitment from people in Myanmar in 2010 (U.N. www.un.org). There is evidence that both sides of the conflict have been using child soldiers, a crime against humanity. This conscription of children directly violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which a government is obliged to recognize a child’s inherent right to life and ensure, to the possible extent, the survival and development of that child. Myanmar is a state-party to that Convention.
Despite significant democratic reforms in the last two years, Myanmar continues to wage ethnic wars on ethnic minorities. The regime has released 300 political prisoners but reports say there are still several hundred imprisoned. The opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kye has been freed from house arrest and has declared her candidacy in the next elections or Parliament. The U.S has required that all political prisoners be released before all sanctions will be removed. However, full diplomatic relations have been restored.
Because of its ongoing wars against minorities, especially the Karen, Shan, and Kachin, Genocide Watch has kept Myanmar at Stage 7 (Current genocidal massacres.)
|Than Win / Agence France- Presse - Getty Images. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Center, at her opposition party's headquarters in Yangon this week, is being allowed to seek elected office for the first time since 1990.|
Whats going on in Burma...
I have noticed that lately there are a few pictures floating around facebook showing images of folk being massacred big time...(Burmese Muslims)
What's going on and are they photoshopped? And if this is true...where are the media?