The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority of about 1.1 million people, who live mainly in the Rakhine state in western Myanmar. Currently this minority is in an emergency at the international level, because the Myanmar government has conducted a series of crimes against it, ranging from repression to genocide.
To better understand the causes of this crisis, we must understand the context of Myanmar and its relationship with the Rohingya minority. In Myanmar, 135 different ethnic groups are recognized, where around 90% of the population is Buddhist. The Rohingyas are a mix of different ethnicities such as Arab, Mughal and Bengali who are found in the Rakhine or Arakan region. There are different discourses around their origin. While the Rohingyas claim that they are indigenous to the Rakhine state descendants of Arab traders, the Burmese state claims that they are Muslim migrants who originated in Bangladesh and emigrated to Myanmar during the British occupation.
It is considered that the current problem dates back to World War II.
When Japan decided to try Burma, the British Empire decided to arm the Rohingyas. However, the group used these weapons and techniques for their own ideals, it is said that they burned lands and temples of other ethnic groups, mainly Buddhists. In 1944 they pushed back the Japanese. In 1948, when Burma gained independence from the British Empire, various minorities representing 40% of present-day Myanmar rebelled against the new political system.
It was not until 1974, when the Emergency Law on Immigration was passed, and 1982, when the Law on Citizenship was passed, during the dictatorial period of General Ne Win, that the Rohingya were declared by law illegal immigrants without the right to citizenship in Myanmar. . This law is one of the reasons why the conflict between the authorities and the Rohingya started. To the conflict must be added the participation of the military, who promote or incite confrontation in the region between different ethnic groups.
Something that is not in question is that since 1948, when the country became independent, they have been victims of torture, negligence and repression. The state prohibits them from marrying or traveling without permission from the authorities and they have no right to own land or property. Currently, around 120,000 people are confined in camps for the displaced.
The Burmese government justifies its actions against the Rohingyas alleging that the conflict between the two religions since the period of British colonization may give rise to later conflicts.
On the other hand, there is fear on the part of the Government. This due to the Rohingyas organizations such as the Arakan Rohingya National Organization or the Rohingya Solidarity Organization, which have an almost direct connection with leaders and members of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
Since 2012, tensions have grown between the Rohingya and the majority of the population, of the Rakhine ethnic group. This has led thousands of Rohingya to abandon their homes and settle in precarious displacement camps. While in 2016, after Rohingya attacks on police checkpoints, the Myanmar army launched a military crackdown on the entire community. On August 25, 2017, an attack was carried out by a Rohingya armed group against security forces checkpoints, this lead to a military response that is criticized for being illegitimate and disproportionate to the original attack.
Facing criticism, the Myanmar government has declared that at least 400 people have been killed, saying most of them were “terrorists”. However, the Myanmar military has a history of human rights violations against Rohingyas and other ethnic and religious minorities. Consequently, more than 723,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017.
Elections were held in Myanmar last November 2020.
Where the exclusion of the minority continued, elections that led to the coup in February 2021 leaving the military in power. This represents a new threat to the Rohingyas; taking into account their history of violating human rights. Likewise, these were among the most affected and vulnerable populations in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Rohingya have received attention from the international community. The Government of Bangladesh has responded in a good way by giving them asylum, mainly in local villages and basic necessities. However, the resources have not been sufficient. For its part, UNHCR transported more than 1,500 tons of emergency aid to Bangladesh, in addition to increasing its presence on the ground through emergency teams and relief specialists. They and also equipped around 80,000 families of refugees with improved shelter kits. Also, on March 16, 2018, the UN launched a Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis requesting 951 million dollars to continue delivering essential assistance from March to December 2018.
Recently, the judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the accusation of state responsibility in the genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Which gives way to continue the case against the government and seek a solution; however, this case could take years.