Rohingya Cleansing issues in Myanmar
In 2017, Aljazeera reported that it had been a month of misery for the Myanmar community living in Rohingya. For the past one month, hundreds of the Myanmar have crossed the border to enter Bangladesh since Rohingya crisis started in Myanmar’s Rakhine state (Al Jazeera, 2017). The cause of the crisis is attributed to the Rohingya fighters’ raids that prompted the army crackdown. The crisis has created the international attention, and global organizations such as United Nations have condemned the army attack and destruction of Rohingya community property. On the other hand, Bangladesh has experienced influx of Rohingya refugees with the majority of them being children and women. The international community led by the United Nations Human Rights Agency has termed the Burma’ Rohingya Crisis as ethnic cleansing (Lumpur, 2017). Human rights activists have accused Burma leader for not being able to protect Rohingya community that has been stateless for over three decades.As much as the international community and the west continue condemn how the leadership of Burma is dealing with Myanmar issue (Calamur, 2017) says that there are misunderstandings on the cause of Rohingya crisis. The tensions between the Buddhists and Bengali-speaking Muslims in Rakhine state have been existence for decades, though many people says it has been place for centuries. However, the most identifiable root can be traced in 1982. This was the period when Burma’s junta legislated a law that identified 135 communities but excluded Rohingya community. The move came as an astonishment to Rohingya people because they had lived and enjoyed equal rights when Burma obtained independence in 1948. This was the beginning of the Rohingya ethnic group cleansing since the neighboring communities felt that Rohingya people did not deserve equal rights as other Burma’s citizens.
The years to come saw the Rohingya community being persecuted and victims of violence. The worst violence occurred in 2012 that was perpetrated on religious grounds. As a result over 140,000 Rohingyans become internally displaced (Calamur, 2017). The mounting international pressure resulted in Burmese government agreeing to offer the Rohingyans reduced form of citizenship but with the condition that they had to be registered as Bengali. However, being agitated from the years of oppression and mistreatment, Rohingyans people denied the offer. The rejection of the offer has continued to render Rohingya community as stateless with other communities oppressing and initiating threats against them. It is out of this oppression where Rohingya formed a group of fighters with the aim of protecting their community. The Burmese terms the group as terrorist and hence starting the measures of cracking down the whole community.
The sate-orchestrated humanitarian catastrophe can be termed as a crime against humanity. Even before the start of the army crackdown, their lives had become so desperate in Myanmar to the point where they resulted using risky human trafficking networks. For example, in 2015 many of the Myanmar community died out of starvation and others drowned as they tried to cross-border to the neighboring countries to seek refuge. For a long time Rohingya have endured tenuous and bare life. According to the World Food Programme report, the Myanmar community has recorded the highest level of extreme food insecurity. The World Food Programme report show that over 80,500 children under five years in the community suffer from acute malnutrition. The large part of the Rohingya suffering and lack of essential resources is largely tied to the dehumanizing acts that they have been exposed to them since 1982.
Society thrives in the presence of peace where all members are guaranteed their rights. Besides, the economic growth and development of a region will be attained if all members of are treated fairly and equally (Marzoli, 2015, p. 12). However, this not the way to go in Myanmar. The Rohingya have been isolated from the society, and they are treated as the third rate citizens yet sincerely speaking the form part of the Burma ethnic groups. For example, before the start of the evictions by the Burmese government, Rohingya had been denied their livelihood opportunities and had been confined in villages an act that can be referred as containing them in open-air prisons. Besides, the Rohingya had been exposed to the violence intimidation that is perpetuated through disenfranchisement (Hossain, 2017). The Rohingya people suffer from starvation, malnutrition, destitution and severe mental and physical illness resulting from restrictions from education, childbirth, marriage, movement and the ever-existing threat of extortion and violence. The oppression and the mistreatment directed towards the Rohingya equal to indirect mass killing.
The treatment of the Rohingya can be attributed to the modern genocide. Ideally, modern genocide entails long-term social engineering process (Green, et al., 2015, p. 21). It usually begins with mass murder, isolation and dehumanization, a systemic process of weakening the target ethnic community. The acts were well calculated by the Burmese government in 1982 when it failed to recognize the Myanmar community as part of the ethnic groups. What followed were the measures of isolation and dehumanization with the efforts of getting rid of the group. The exclusionary ideology has been used to crackdown the Rohingya from Myanmar. This is the ideology that has been applied by the Burmese army to destroy the Rohingya with the justification that Rohingya people are terrorists. The Burma has employed this technique to create internal enmity to erode the Rohingya.
The modern genocide is largely build on propaganda whereby media is the most used channel (Abdullah, 2017). For example, the human genocide between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda was large fueled by the media. Media created fear among the two communities by labeling the Tutsis inferior to the Hutus. Likewise, the same case is happening in Myanmar state. It is on record that Myanmar’s state-controlled media has on several occasions labeled Muslims as “detestable human fleas”. Besides, the national leaders have appeared to borrow the words of the media and openly uttered negative sentiments about the Muslims (Lowenstein, 2015, p. 6). These are ethnic profiling that have isolated the Rohingya further forcing them to establish defensive mechanisms that is now being viewed as terrorism. From different point of view, it can be argued that the Burmese have used the Rohingya defense group as a way of justifying the elimination of the whole community. However, the main reasons behind the eviction of Rohingya have been linked to religion, land grabbing and regional prize (Forino, 2017). Combined with their vulnerability, oppression and denial of citizenship it has been difficult for the lives of Rohingya in Myanmar.
There is still hope to end the ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Burmese government. Up to now, over 400 people have died from the ongoing eviction (Hossain, 2017). This calls the intervention of the neighboring countries as well as the international community. However, there are hurdles being erected by the Burmese leadership to hide from the international community its unlawful activities that violate international norms and lack respect to the human rights (Marzoli, 2015, p. 7). Instead of calming the situation, the Burmese leadership appears to inflame the eviction of the Rohingya by urging that army is targeting the “Bengali terrorists” when it is evident that the property of innocent civilians is being set ablaze and forced to flee their homes.
It is high time the international and regional mounts their pressure consistently on Myanmar government as well as military to stop crackdown and offer protection to all citizens irrespective their origin. ASEAN has a huge role to influence Myanmar to consider the protection and respect of human rights. Upon ending the violence, the government should initiate a process that will make sure the Rohingya are granted neutral citizenship and granted rights as other people in the country. What Rohingya has been going through is uncalled and would be humane for the other citizens as well as society at large to put themselves in the shoes of the Rohingya.
Based on the issue to be studied, it is appropriate to apply the qualitative method of inquiry. I find that phenomenological study is the most suitable for exploring Rohingya issues in Myanmar. This type of inquiry involves different methods that makes the result of the study reliable. The various phenomenological methods they provide the reader with comparable channels where he or she can select the most appropriate information. I realized that using the phenomenological research study method; I would be able to obtain information through visiting people, watch videos, read documents and even conduct interviews. The combination of these methods will give reliable information to understand and analyze the Rohingya issues in Myanmar.
I watched saved TV videos to establish how the real situation of the Rohingya issues in Myanmar. This approach gave me a clear picture of what Rohingya has been going through since the eviction process started that has been started by the government with an excuse of dealing with the terrorists. The videos provided some of the Rohingya people might have gone through to group themselves to provide defense for their community and instead mistaken for belonging to terrorists. The videos illustrated the sorry state and suffering that Rohingya have gone through as they try to cross-border to Bangladesh.I find it is appropriate to supplement the video viewing method with reading the document. I have through the different documents with the aim of getting the cause of the Rohingya issues in Myanmar. I realized the issue of Rohingya is deep than the rest of the world especially the international community and west views it. The oppression, intimidation, mistreatment and dehumanization of Rohingya find their origin in the 1982 Junta legislation. The legislature passed a law that recognized the 135 ethnic groups but with the exclusion of Rohingya. This move formed the basis of the Rohingya community mistreatment and denial of right as other citizens.
I got fascinated about reading the documents, and therefore, I am motivated to read deeper to have a comprehensive information about the Rohingya community oppression. There is proof that the Burmese government was out to deny the Rohingya people their rights. It arose that they were being hated because of their religion, the strategic position of the region that they are inhabiting and land grabbing. To pursue personal interests, the government and Myanmar state-owned media had started creating propaganda that appear to intimidate, disrespect and inflict the hatred against the Rohingya people. The document I read on this day made it clear that the Rohingya obviously formed a defensive group because of the oppression that they had endured over decades.
I am prepared to conclude on the exploration the Rohingya issues in Myanmar; I question myself what actions should international and regional community do to end the suffering of Rohingya community. This forces me to recommend that the international community, as well as the regional associations such as ASEAN, should mount pressure on Myanmar State as well as military to stop the eviction of Rohingya people. The actions by the Burmese government violates and disrespects human rights. The hatred against Rohingya people has been created through modern genocide as it was the case in Rwandan Genocide that was a result between the Tutsi and Hutus.