Bangladesh has announced that there is a plan in works to move Rohingya refugees present in the nation to a low-lying island. The country stated that it will begin construction of facilities to begin "very soon."
Meanwhile, the United Nations has stated that Myanmar may be guilty of conducting genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority group from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. Their origin can be traced back to the 15th century when thousands settled in Myanmar from the Arakan Kingdom. Practicing a variation of Sunni Islam, there is reportedly one million Rohingya in Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has, however, refused to recognize them as one of its ethnic groups. They do not get legal protection from the government. The processes for them to get a citizenship is incredibly hard and often impossible.
Given their persecution, thousands have fled the region in boats. Due to violent riots, since 2012, over 110,000 Rohingya left Myanmar and headed to countries like Thailand and Malaysia. The number of refugees increased exponentially in 2015. Thein Sein, the Burmese President from 2011 to 2016 did little to offer relief to Rohingya.
According to those who fled the region, a fresh bout of violence erupted in Myanmar on August 25th, 2017. Over half a million Rohingya Muslims fled the region as a direct result of it. In September, Myanmar blocked all United Nations aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water, and medicine to those affected.
For the first time in eight years, the UN held its first public meeting on the situation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the violence in the region has "spiraled into the world's fastest-developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare." He added, “We've received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled, mainly women, children and the elderly.”
Bangladesh has announced that there is a plan in works to move Rohingya refugees present in the nation to a low-lying island. The country stated that it will begin construction of facilities to begin "very soon." Reports state that at least 100,000 of refugees will be shifted to Thengar Char. The remote island is also prone to multiple floods. There are around 1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh presently.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has stated that Myanmar may be guilty of conducting genocide against Rohingya Muslims. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said that UN investigators have received He added that "concordant reports of acts of appalling barbarity committed against the Rohingyas" during a military crackdown in Rakhine state in August. These included allegations of security forces "deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques. Given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?"
The international community has also called on Myanmar and its authorities to seek a resolution to the violence that has unfolded in the recent months. The US House of Representatives has condemned "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims. "This slaughter must end, and our resolution ought to send a strong message to Burmese leaders that their commitment to restoring democracy will be judged by their respect for the individual rights and freedoms of all people living within Burma's borders, no matter their faith or ethnicity," House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said in a statement.
Congressman Eliot Engel said, "It also calls for Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar's de facto leader) to exercise moral leadership, something that's needed now more than ever. We reject the Army's claims that what's taking place in Burma is a so-called counterterrorism measure -- that's nonsense. It's a textbook ethnic cleansing, that's what it is. We should also encourage other governments to stay engaged and continue to address the pressing needs of these refugees' needs that will only grow as long as this situation remains unresolved.”
The Myanmar military denies wrongdoing and says it's targeting terrorists responsible for killing security forces.
Our assessment is that the continued persecution of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar could result in the attraction of extremist point of views and more violence. The government of Myanmar should work towards gaining the trust back of the Rohingya Muslims and should ensure that the conflict is resolved as swiftly as possible. The lives of millions are at stake.