Myanmar’s Rohingya Community: What Now?

The United Nations (UN) has called out the Burmese National Army for ethnic cleansing against Rohingya, a large Muslim minority group based in Western Myanmar. A report by Amnesty International claims that Burmese forces have conducted “unlawful killings, multiple rapes,” destruction of properties, and various other human rights abuses to the Muslim group.

Since October this year, tens of thousands of refugees have escaped the war-torn country in the hope of reaching Bangladesh. However, their current immigration and refugee policy is to prohibit the entry of illegal entrants. Given the nature of recent events in the western Rakhine State, it is possible that thousands of more refugees will be stranded in coming months.

The UN publicly condemned the violence and terror that is resulting from the ethnic cleansing, by labeling it as being “short-sighted, counterproductive and even callous” in a recent statement. The statement comes after reports of a total of 86 people who have been killed, in addition to the 1,500 buildings, which have already been destroyed.

This comes as a direct response to the October 9 border shootings where nine Burmese soldiers were shot dead by Rohingya militants. The Rohingya community has been in a perpetual state of fear since the shootings, knowing that the Burmese Army would surely crackdown on them. Myanmar’s border town of Maungdaw is under the intense control of the army, who are preventing aid, the media, and international troops from entering the area.

Only satellite imagery has been able to detect the atrocities, which have occurred in and around Maungdaw, however, Myanmar’s government have denied all allegations of crimes against humanity, inclusive of ethnic cleansing. They claim to be disappointed with these allegations, however, Ms. Suu Kyi has called for a spontaneous meeting with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign representatives. She hopes that the international community can help Myanmar’s government to bring peace to the Rakhine state, in an attempt to live up to her promise of making the nation state a more peaceful nation, at peace talks in August this year.

The International Crisis Group has delivered a report on the state of the Rohingya community, where there is an explicit warning that the Muslim majority could pick up the pace in East Asia as retaliation for facing years of persecution. Other investigators say that such atrocities have sparked increasing sympathy for the Rohingya community and other Muslim minorities in East Asia.

The clear ethnic divide and attacks in Myanmar will not end until successful peace talks between both parties occur. Ms. Suu Kyi must continue to stand by her claims to bring tranquility to Myanmar. She can do this by discussing, with more established East Asian nation states, potential methods to counter the military insurgence of the Rohingya community. However, the war is far from over and the complex ethno-religious problems require delicate and well thought out solutions.