This week Pope Francis spoke about the atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. According to Al Jazeera, he condemned the torture and killings and said that fundamental Buddhists target them simply because they are Muslim.
He told the New York Times that we should pray “for our Rohingya brothers and sisters who are being chased from Myanmar and are fleeing from one place to another because no one wants them.”
Who are the Rohingya? Why are they persecuted? And who is persecuting them?
Who are the Rhoingya?
- They are a Muslim minority who live mostly in the state of Arakan in Myanmar (Burma).
- They number about 800,ooo and their ancestors have lived in Burma for centuries, first setttling there in the 1400's.
- In 1785, Buddhist Burmese conquered Arakan and drove out most of the Rohingya males.
- In 1826, the British took control of Arakan and encouraged Bengal farmers to migrate to Arakan.
- Burmese Buddhists in Arakan opposed the migration creating the ethnic tension that continues today.
- Britiain withdrew from Southeast Aisa during WWII. Buddhists renewed their campaign against the Rohingya and so did the Japanese who reviled them for their support of the British.
- The Japanese and the Buddhists inflicted torture, rape, and murder against the Rohingya
- Today, Buddhists have renewed the violence. They insist that Rohingya are not indigenous to Arakan and shoud be denied citizenship
- According to International Business Times or IBT, "810,000 people in northern Rakhine State are currently without citizenship and nearly 100,000 persecuted Rohingya have fled the country."
- According to Kyaw Min, Chairman of the Democracy and Human Rights Party in Burma, writing for the Huffington Post,
More than 200 Muslims have been killed and mosques, homes and businesses have been burned, all while the authorities turned a blind eye. Today, almost 150,000 Rohingya are trapped in dirty refugee camps, living in bad tents, with not much food and not enough medicine. The police prevent them from coming and going as free people.
- Myanmar considers the Rohyinga Bengali, even though most have families in Myanmar dating back to the 15th century, and wants them to declare themselves Begnali and then apply for citizenship under an older law, which requires them to trace their history back to before British colonization.
- Many Rohingya take to the seas to find refuge in another country, but no one will take them.
- According to NPR, "At best, the migrants have been received with resignation — at worst with contempt — even by the region's Muslim nations. As we've reported recently, many are victims of human traffickers.
- Who are the Rohyinga, from About. com.
- Why does Myanmar keep persecuting the Rohingya Muslims, from the Los Angesles Times
- Here is an excellent editorial by Kenan Malik for the New York Times called, Myanmar's Buddhist Bigots.