Ethnic Cleansing is Still Very Much With Us

By Linda Cako

As of September 19, 2017, over 400,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims have been forced to leave their homes in Myanmar and flee into neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. Bangladesh’s refugee camps are quickly becoming one of the world’s largest. Since August 2017, 20,000 new refugees enter and seek relief each day. It is estimated that these camps will hit one million refugees if the crisis continues to worsen (EuroNews, 2017). They are all leaving Myanmar due to the fact that the Burmese Military is destroying the Rohingya’s villages, and is raping and killing them.

They are all leaving Myanmar due to the fact that the Burmese Military is destroying the Rohingya’s villages, and is raping and killing them.

The Rohingya are a minority ethnic group in Myanmar compared to its overall Buddhist majority. While Myanmar claims the Rohingya population are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, the Rohingya population dates back to Myanmar’s population since the twelfth century (Human Rights Watch). The group has consistently been denied citizenship and documents and is considered to be one of the most targeted group of people today (The Guardian, 2017).They continue to live as stateless people within Myanmar’s boarders while Bangladesh is also refusing to give the Rohingya any documentation because it says the Rohingya are Burmese.

“50% are still intact? What does that mean? That 50% are gone, are burnt down. You know, 50% was a failing mark when I went to school”.

Myanmar is denying that there is any ethnic cleansing or genocide occurring within its borders to the UN and was happy to report that 50% of the Rohingya villages are still intact. Phil Robertson, a Deputy Director of HRW Asian Division, says, “50% are still intact? What does that mean? That 50% are gone, are burnt down. You know, 50% was a failing mark when I went to school”.

Satellite images are reporting to show the damages done in the villages as late as September 8, 2017 where 158 buildings were burned and destroyed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, says, “the situation seems to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

World Leaders still haven’t decided how to punish the government’s military. And Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has received international criticism for not putting more effort into stopping the cleansing. While she has made efforts to change the country’s constitution in the past, unfortunately she has little to no power in achieving much since Myanmar is a “military-drafted constitution”. This means the army has a very integrated role within the government (CNN, 2017). In fact the army is required to make up 25% of all seats in the parliament, and for any changes to be made within the constitution more than 75% of the parliamentarians are required to vote (The Economist, 2014).

Until any action takes place, more innocent Rohingya will be targeted and displaced or killed by the Burmese Military.

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