This Discriminatory Law Has Made Rohingya Muslims ‘Aliens In Their Own Land’

Posted by Mansi Jaswal in GlobeScope
March 17, 2017

Myanmar has disowned them, while Bangladesh calls them unwanted migrants; “they” are the Rohingya Muslims – the stateless humans. The Rohingya’s past has been discredited and their present is hanging in the air. They have been forgotten in their own land. For over more than three decades, Rohingya Muslims have been struggling for citizenship, survival, and existence against the Rakhine Buddhists. In fact, the United Nation Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) declared, “Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted communities in the world.”

Myanmar human rights activist and politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Photo credits: Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Amidst their humongous rate of migration and the extra-judicial execution, rape and the torture of the community by the State, the United Nations have warned the State councillor of Myanmar, and the noble peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, to demonstrate her commitment to the rule of law and human rights.

The moderate growth of democracy in Myanmar, after the long-sustained military rule from 1962 till 2010, has remained unchanged for the Rohingya community. In fact, the recorded data of oppression, which has become commercial now, shows the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya, based on a political and economical reasoning, sponsored by the Buddhist-dominated territory. The majority-minority wrestle for resources and employment is known to be the major economic reason. Political empowerment of Rakhine Buddhists and suppression of the foreigners (Rohingya) is a political angle of this human rights violation.

The advent of State-sponsored violence in Burma (now Myanmar) began with the Burmese Citizen Law, in 1982. Burmese Citizen Laws is an ordeal for Rohingya Muslims, the law has been criticized by several human rights organizations, and they have also made an appeal to quash the law. This law completely snatches all citizens and legal rights from Rohingya, thus making them aliens in their own ancestral land. The law excludes citizens whose ancestors were not residents of Burma during the first Anglo-Burmese War of 1824. The Rohingya are thus, reduced to the status of “associate” citizens, deprived of all governmental rights. Their marriages and births are inhibited by the government. The Myanmar military, Junta, concealed the persecution until 2012. But after its commercial opening, the former president Thein Sein, transformed this persecution into “communal violence”, between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists.

The oppression of Rohingya Muslims has a long history. The conflict between Buddhist and Muslim community began in Rakhine (western Myanmar) in the 19th century.The British invasion of Burma took place in 1824. The transportation of Rohingya Muslims into western Myanmar from Chittagong, Bangladesh also happened in that same period. The British employed them as farm laborers in Arakan (Rakhine was known as previously), a Buddhist-dominated region, and this fuelled massive resentment among the natives. The ethnic clashes continued after Burma’s independence.

The ongoing massacre in the State, after the 2012 unrest, has gained sympathy for the Rohingya from all over the world. Support from South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangladesh, in the form of protests, have put pressure on the Myanmar administration to give refuge to the Rohingya. Besides, the assault on Rohingya is becoming an offshoot for jihadist to spread extremism, of which the West is wary about.

To resist the breeding of Islamic terrorism as a response to Myanmar’s atrocity, the UN is now urging neighboring countries to combat tyranny against the Rohingya.

There is no wrong time for improvisation, especially when it’s the question of safeguarding someone’s rights and giving them back their dignity. Rohingya Muslims have the same right to live freely and safely. The atrocity by Rakhine Buddhist against the Rohingya has now unveiled the callous and authoritarian nature of Aung San Suu Kyi’s counselorship. Her failure in resolving the crisis and her silence has degenerated the nobility of her Peace Prize awarded in 1991.


Photo credits: Getty Images/Allison Joyce