Essay on Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar

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1952 words
Middlebury College
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The Rohingya issue is one of the world humanitarian crisis of Muslim refugees. Around 450,000 Muslim people have been displaced in their homes in Myanmar and have since they dispersed in Bangladesh. There are those refugees who have settled along the Bangladesh and Myanmar border while others have settled in several regions. Parnini, (p.286) says that there are around 30,000 IDPs who do not have shelter or employment. This issue has been propelled or fueled by several forces that have been traced back to the bad politics in Myanmar. The issue has been considered a regional issue since the immigrants from Myanmar become refugees and IDPs in Bangladesh. This has raised for the help from various leaders, bodies and organizations. One of the most trusted body to come up with an effective solution to this problem is the ASEAN. This paper is going to look at the crisis in political and humanitarian grounds.

Background information

In 1970s, there was a serious ideological divide between the Buddhists and the Muslims in Rakhine State in Myanmar. Sadly, the Rohingya Muslims are lesser in number than the Rakhine community. Only 20% of the population in Myanmar are Muslims, the rest of them are Buddhists. Since then, there have been several violence and fights among the two communities. However, the issue rose again in 2012 in the month June. According to Southwick (p.137), there was crackdown of the government which led to the persecution of the innocent Rohingya Muslims. The government that was headed by majority of the Rakhine Buddhist did not want to pass laws that could allow the Rohingyans to get National Identification Cards. This hindered the Muslims from getting jobs and were also denied some of the basic social and health care services like education and hospital treatment. Since then it was now named the Rohingya issue which was affecting the region binding Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the entire ASEAN community.

Five years down the line, it has rose to become an international unmanageable humanitarian crisis. The refuges are now calling for the ASEAN to step in and come up with an effective solution that will help the refugees and the IDPs. By the beginning of 2017, Kipgen (p.302) observed that there was around 450,000 Rohingyans who had been displaced from Myanmar to various parts of Bangladesh with majority settling at the border of the two nations. Around 56,000 had fled o Mayasia while 32,000 had settled in several parts of Bangladesh like Nayapara and many other places. Others were on the border. Majority of them were being transported by boats and could not go far from the border. In early 2017, the minority Muslims decided claim for the vetting of the military forces and the government leaders responsible for security. This is after massive cases of killings and raping of Muslim Women by the Buddhists. They have also requested ASEAN o have negotiations and discussions with the Myanmar government to enhance provision of security and IDs to Rohingyan Muslims to acquire full citizenship thus be entitled full human rights.

Political forces

Since 1970s, there have been passing of the policies which are discriminatory to the minority community in Myanmar. The policies have been favoring the Rakhine all through and denying the Rohingya some human rights since they are few. The few Muslims have been trying to request for the rationalization of the policies to also include them as citizens and be given National IDs as the Buddhists are given. However, Zarni and Cowley (p.683) argue that the military and other heads who are Rakhine have opposed this claims and even resulted to the Buddhists starting violence and war to the Rohingyans resulting to their emigration. This kind of treatment to the minorities caused by the political will of the majority is unethical approach. Every human being coming from either the minority or majority group in any nation needs to be granted full rights as a citizen. However, the problem is lack of the minority representatives who have say in the government to be heard.

The reason why Myanmar government is been persistently reluctant to give Rohingyans full citizenship is because most of them do not have required documents like birth certificates or immigration passports, Visas or valid immigration reports. Meanwhile it does not seem so, there seem to be a serious factor for these reluctance. Most of the Rakhine people fear associating with Muslims for their bad image they have like terrorism and illegal possession of firearms. Fumagalli, (p.61) says that most of the terrorists usually hide in Muslim regions where they plan their activities. From the fact that most of them lack satisfying documentation for identification makes it hard for the Buddhists to feel free staying with them as they fear being terrorized. From the fact that they are increasing in number through high birth rates, then it becomes a more threat when they claim full citizenship in Myanmar as they might one day decide war over the Buddhists.

Political crisis have been characterized by illegal handling of guns, government brutality killings of innocent people, increased number of refugees, highest number of immigration, violence, fight for equality, and high level of unemployment among others. All this are the issues that have been associated with Rohingya crisis. Since most of the Muslims have immigrated and become refugees in Malaysia and Bangladesh, they have felt the pain of political discrimination for their people in Myanmar and has resulted to most of the youths acquiring illegal fire arms and forming terrorism groups to revenge on the Buddhists. Since the Buddhists are many, some of them have been using guns to knives to kill and torture the Rohingyans scaring some of them to flee away. The government knows these problems for over 3 decades now but still, less effort has been put in place to stop this kinds of violence and brutal killings. McDaniel, et al. (p.84) observed that there are cases reported for the police harassing and beating up Muslims like animals.

The Rohingya issue has been described as a state-sponsored violence. Why say this? The government of Myanmar considers the Rohingyans as mere immigrants from Bangladesh who are illegally in the country. The government claims that Myanmar is the land for Rakhine and thus the Muslims should not be granted full citizenship. As a result, Kipgen (p.299) argued that the government decided to give them temporary cards that would grant them their temporary stay in Myanmar. The Buddhists claim that they close chase away the Rohingyans to go back in Bangladesh where they original came from. This is not all true as they have been staying in Myanmar even before the country got independence from the colonial British leadership. The Muslims decided also to claim for their rights by urging the government to consider them in full citizenship. Since they were denied these offer, there has been inequality in job distribution as a large percentage of Muslims are unemployed. The Myanmar government said that the Muslims can only be counted in Census if they have full documentation identifying them.

Humanitarian crisis

Humanitarian crisis is that which affects the settlement of the people in large numbers. Such incidences includes increased number of refugees and IDPs, conflict and hunger, displacement of people and, outbreak of diseases among others. The Rohingya issue is one of the biggest worlds humanitarian crisis as over 500,000 Muslims have been displaced from their homes in Myanmar to other nations like Bangladeshi and Malaysia (Parnini, p.294). The Muslims have been oppressed and tortured o the extent that they end up losing their loved ones and property. In the last census, the government had initially agreed to count the Muslims and let them be identified as Rohingya. However, the Buddhists did not like this idea and since they have a say in the government, they plotted to boycott the census. As a result, the government was left with no other option other that hinter counting of Muslims as Rohingya but instead they be identified with Bengali. This is discrimination of the minority who do not have say.

From this situation, it comes out that the government was not acting ethically and in accordance with the law. Instead, it was following the orders of the majority and if it failed to carry out that mandate then there would be violence and more displacement will happen. According to Zarni and Cowley (p.683), the situation ceased to be a mere local issues and grew to a regional issue. The immigrants were becoming refugees in other countries in large population forcing the foreign governments to have plans of feeding them and providing them with other basic needs. This is one of the reasons why the ASEAN needs to come in and provide some meaningful solutions to the situation. First, the body should be fighting for enactment of fair human rights for the Rohingyas to ensure that they are treated equally with Rakhine in Myanmar. Secondly, they should have extensive discussions and negotiations on how to stop what has been known to be a state-sponsored violence. Lastly, they need to allow in the aid agencies like Red Cross to help the refugees and ensure that some of their basic needs have been covered in the meantime while they slowly solve the issue.

From the fact that the Rohingyans are being defined the rights for education, marriage, family planning, healthcare services, freedom and, religious choice among others, shows that he government is biased and it needs to be corrected. The institutionalization of all this restrictions is not protecting their lives of the Buddhists but is torture to the Muslims. It has also resulted to other crimes both civil and criminal ones. First, the Rohingyans are supposed to seek permission from the authorities for marriage. Southwick (P.137) says that seeking permission is not enough, it goes ahead to the extent of being forced to bribe the authorities for them to grand a Muslim marriage rights. They must also go ahead and take photographs of the marriage in the manner they are directed by the authorities and not according to their wishes. The Muslims in the Northern region are also required to have a maximum of two children while the Buddhists are not limited to his rule.

This oppression is tough but on its own, the Muslims can bare it. However, the Buddhists feel that the restrictions are not enough, they go ahead to start violence and even end up raping the Muslim women and brutally killing youths. Fumagalli (p.166) says that nothing is done by the government to stop this incidences but instead the government continues with its operations as normal. This forces the Rohingyans to migrate to other places where they hope to get peace and where they think they will have safety. Since it affects more than two countries largely in the same region, it has rose to be a serious humanitarian crisis with full of immigration, refugees, disease outbreak and conflicts. The Muslims also deserve the right to have good social life and security.


In summary, Rohingya issue is a regional crisis affecting Myanmar, Bangladesh and Malaysia. The matter is fueled by political influence and has grown to be a big humanitarian crisis in the region. The Rohingya who comprises of the Muslims mostly are oppressed and discriminated by the Myanmar government. A large percentage of the population are the Rakhine which are Buddhists and thus claim that it is their country and the Muslims are only illegal immigrants there. As a result, they have denied them some basic human rights for family planning, marriage, freedom and access to healthcare services and education. With the increase in violence, almost 500,000 of them have fled to Bangladesh and Malaysia and have become refugees.

Work cited;

Fumagalli, Mat...

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