The suppression of the Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan region dates back to the World War II. On March 28, 1942, about 5,000 Rohingya Muslims were brutally massacred by the Rakhine nationalists in the Minbya and Mrohaung townships. After that, the Muslims of the region were frequently subjected to harassment by the Burmese government which has so far refused to grant them official citizenship. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, this lack of full citizenship means that the Rohingyas should tolerate other abuses, including “restrictions on their freedom of movement, discriminatory limitations on access to education, and arbitrary confiscation of property."
As the Muslims around the world cheerfully prepare for the holy month of Ramadan, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are subject to the appalling atrocities of the extremist Buddhists, finding their life in danger.
Branded by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities of the world, Rohingyas are a group of Muslims living in the Rakhine State, located in west of Myanmar. With a population of 3 million, Rakhine state is bordered by the Bay of Bengal to the west and the majority of its residents are Theravada Buddhists and Hindus.
It's said that as a result of dire living conditions and discriminatory treatment by the government, some 300,000 Rohingyas have so far immigrated to Bangladesh and 24,000 of them escaped to Malaysia in search of a better life. Many of them have also fled to Thailand, but neither Bangladesh nor Thailand has received them warmly. Bangladesh is negotiating with the Burmese government to return the Rohingyas and Thailand has sporadically rejected the hopeless immigrants. There have been instances where boats of Rohingyas reaching Thailand have been towed out to sea and allowed to sink, sparking international anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.
Human Rights Watch says the government authorities continue to require Rohingya Muslims to perform forced labor. According to the HRW, those who refuse or complain are physically threatened and sometimes killed. Children as young as seven have been seen in the camps.
Writing for The Egyptian Gazette, University of Waterloo professor Dr. Mohamed Elmasry has enumerated the different hardships the Rohingya Muslims have historically undergone. He writes that they are subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation, land confiscation, forced eviction and house destruction and financial restrictions on marriage.
Myanmar government's mistreatment of the Rohingyas has long been highlighted by aid organizations. In May 2009, Elaine Pearson, the Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director issued a statement in protest at the deteriorating conditions of the Rohingya Muslims, calling on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to press the Burmese government to end its brutal practices, "the treatment of the Rohingya in Burma is deplorable - the Burmese government doesn't just deny Rohingya their basic rights, it denies they are even Burmese citizens,” she said.
Now, the conflict has once again escalated in the Rakhine state and Muslims are once more experiencing difficult days as the shadow of violence casts over the Rohingyas. It was reported that 10 Rohingya Muslims were killed by a mob of 300 Rakhines while on their way back from the country's former capital Rangoon. According to a group of UK-based NGOs, 650 Rohingyas were massacred from June 10 to June 28. The United Nations estimates that between 50,000 and 90,000 Rohingyas were displaced since the eruption of violence in the Asian nation. However, due to the absence of independent reporters and monitors in the country, it's impossible to verify the exact number of those who have been displaced. It's also reported that some 9,000 homes belonging to the Muslims in the western state of Rakhine were destroyed. On July 20, Amnesty International called the recent attacks against minority Rohingyas and other Muslims in Myanmar a "step back" in the country's recent progress on human rights, citing increased violence and unlawful arrests following a state of emergency declared six weeks ago.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has voiced its concern over the recent violence in the state of Rakhine and the varying reports which have leaked out as to the number of the Muslims killed. As reported by the TimeTurk News Agency, over 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been murdered thus far in the conflicts that broke out in the region.
The mainstream media in the West have been largely silent about the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar.
Along with the media, the Western governments have also blatantly turned a blind eye to the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims. Even renowned Burmese political activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was recently invited to Norway to collect her 21-year old Nobel Prize, preferred not to speak about the affliction of her fellow citizens.
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