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Why should I care about Rohingya Refugees?

Grace Parker, Staff Contributor

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The Rohingya people are one of the most persecuted minorities and are denied most basic human rights by the Burmese government. They are denied free movement to a higher education and Burmese citizenship, which essentially means that the government does not recognize them as legal citizens. They are deemed to be stateless people because no one will grant them citizenship. The military has also confiscated a lot of the land that belongs to the Rohingyas and given it to Buddhist settlers.

There has been an ongoing crackdown by the Myanmar Army and police on the Rohingya Indians in the Rakhine State since October 2016. Many of the issues can be traced back to the tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya which have led to the violent targeting of the Rohingya. According to the Amnesty International, the Rohingya have suffered human rights violations by the military and government since 1978. The situation escalated when the Burmese government made a list recognizing the eight major ethnicities in Myanmar that would have citizenship. The Rohingya were not one of those groups: they are essentially living there illegally. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the actions taken against the Rohingya “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

In August, the situation got worse when over 500,000 Rohingyas migrated to Bangladesh to escape all of the unethical killings, gang rapes and other human rights violations.  “They have absolutely nothing,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said. “Evidently they had to flee from a very urgent situation, from very sudden violence — so they need everything.” When they get to the shelters, the Rohingya have no supplies and the UN is overwhelmed with the number of resources that they must provide. Grandi reports that they are sheltering over 700,000 people in Bangladesh, and these people are overcrowded and the shelters are unsanitary. CNN reports that it poses risk for dangerous epidemics to spread.

The US Department of State claimed that the violent conflict is because of socio-economic and socio-political underdevelopment. Because Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world, there is a distinct lack of security, meaning that people can get away with criminal activity without being caught as often. For instance, the whole security unit could be dealing with one issue in one village and then in another village there could be merciless killings going on and the security would never know. The government hurts its people with unethical arrests and punishments, torture, restricted movement and restricted practice of religion. The overwhelming violence and the government’s treatment of its people caused many to believe fleeing was their best option. They fled to surrounding countries, particularly Bangladesh.

The militaries of surrounding countries, like India, are getting increasingly wary of the increase in refugees. Despite there being no evidence of the Rohingya working with any terrorist groups, many people have called them such. India is taking strong actions against them by burning entire villages to the ground, murdering women and children and much more, according to a CNN report. The Myanmar military, however, denies any action of ethnic cleansing. They have strengthened their border controls denying any Rohingyas access into the country. The military has also sent groups of officials to the villages to find all of the Rohingya people and try and get rid of them.

Americans can help these people by donating on CNN’s Impact the World and help the situation if they wish to. These people are in desperate need of supplies and protection and any little thing will help them out.

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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School
Why should I care about Rohingya Refugees?