Is Myanmar Guilty of Genocide?

By Patrick Brogan

An increasingly desperate situation is developing in Myanmar as Rohingya refugees flee over the border into Bangladesh. 18,500 Rohingya made their way to Bangladesh in just five days in late August with a further 120,000 having fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State recently. Many remain stranded in a no-man’s land and some have taken to the mountains and forests to get away from the violence as reported by Newsweek.

Recent tensions erupted after Rohingya militants attacked an army base, killing 100 people. This led to a military crackdown and a rise in militias attacking the Rohingya. Tensions have long been established between the mainly Muslim minority of Rohingya on one side and the state of Myanmar on the other. Many massacres have been carried out.

This led the UN to describe the Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world. They fear that any Rohingya returning to Myanmar may subjected to “re-victimisation” and have said that the nation is blocking aid to those that vitally need it.

Many humanitarians and vocal critics have described this as a genocide, including Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The current crisis is affecting poor Hindus living in the region, as well as the Rohingya.

This has resulted in many seeking safety in a country that is ill equipped to do so. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated in the world, and the densest of large nations. Added to this is the country’s nature of being prone to flooding and the risk it faces due to rising sea levels. Understandably, Bangladesh is extremely concerned about the situation across the border and it summoned the Myanmar ambassador in the nation’s capital Dhaka and claims to have lodged complaints.

The BBC reported that there were landmines being planted on the border to prevent the Rohingya re-entering Myanmar. Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi said these were laid by Buddist militias and not by the State. Bangladesh has also been criticised in the past for not doing enough for the refugees and suggested relocating them to a roadless island which is prone to flooding.

The Rohingya are a mainly Muslim stateless minority living in the Rakhine region. They are over a million of them living there with a large diaspora in surrounding countries. The Myanmar nation does not recognise Arakanese Indians, as they are also known, as citizens. They have lived in the region for centuries and have been the victims of major state crackdowns over many decades.

 

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