You may have heard of Myanmar in the news recently (Mee-an-mar) or the Rohingya (Roh-hinge-I-uh). Did the hard to pronounce words make you steer away?
Let me break it down for you:
What is Myanmar?
Myanmar is a country in SE Asia, kind of settled in the gap between India and Thailand. It has a lot of coastline. The majority of this country is Buddhist, however, small segments of the population practice Christianity & Islam. Both of these religious groups are discriminated against but more so the Muslims.
Who are the Rohingya?
Rohingya is the term for Muslims in Myanmar – most of them live along the coast line in an area called Rakhine. As described above, this group has faced oppression for a while now… They have been in the country since the 12th century and yet are denied citizenship! But things are quickly escalating right now…
SO WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THIS CRISIS?
The crisis is a genocide.
Essentially, the Myanmar government is allowing for “ethnic cleansing” to occur by turning a blind eye… They know that there have been numerous mass killings and choose to ignore or deny it. Thus, the Rohingya have started migrating in huge numbers to Bangladesh (their next door country) and India in any way they can.
Due to the fact that Myanmar is a poorer country, these people often arrive in their new country with zero resources and this puts a strain on the countries taking them in. It is estimated that at least 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar due to the military burning entire villages.
SO WHO’S GONNA FIX THIS?
The international community of course looks to the U.N. for guidance on where to begin addressing this crisis. Given that this definitely fits with the U.N.’s definition of a genocide, they met recently to discuss the matter. They have not yet come out with a public plan of action.
SO WHO IS IN CHARGE OVER THERE?
Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader in Myanmar and, as you can imagine, is under a lot of heat right now. She was actually the recipient of a NOBEL PEACE PRIZE! Something which has been called into question as of late… She continually denies that the killing is occurring and claims the migration stories are “fake news.”
THINGS THAT ARE HARD TO UNDERSTAND AS WESTERNERS:
When we hear the term “Buddhist,” we as westerners typically think of peaceful buddhas! However, in this instance, Buddhist monks are often committing these atrocities. This is something we’ve got to wrap our heads around a bit. Additionally, we have to understand that these Muslims are NOT violent. They are NOT extremists.
To help us identify with these people and understand the level of violence they are facing, watch the video below from CNN that interviews a Rohingya man who’s entire family was killed in the genocide.