One year ago today, the course of Rohingya history took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Years of deep seated hatred for the Rohingya community, having lived on the margins of Myanmarese society, unravelled from a civilian dispute and attack in Arakan, and has since spiralled into systematic ethnic cleansing of the community.
The Rohingya are still continually discriminated for their difference in appearance, religion and language, leading to their desperation, displacement and death.
In many instances over the last year, the violence against the community has been state sponsored, allowing for the mass burning of villages, the rape of women and children, with thousands forced into ‘living’ in IDP Camps, fearing death in their homes, yet struggling to live each day with no food, clean water or medical aid in the camps. More than 100,00 were said to be displaced after the first outbreak of violence in June 2012, with another wave of violence in October, the number of displaced has now risen to well over 150,000 people.
It is in fact Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, rendering the Rohingya stateless, that has to this day been the legal ground for arbitrary and discriminatory treatment against the Rohingya.
Despite the Rohingya name now being recognised worldwide, having once been coined as ‘’The Forgotten People ‘’, they are still not recognised as citizens in their own homeland.
What is definitively clear is that the anti Muslim rhetoric of some extremist groups in Myanmar, strengthened by it’s oppressive and discriminatory state laws is growing increasingly apparent. Muslim populated areas in Myanmar in and outside of Arakan have continually been targeted- notably Meiktila, Nattalin town of the Pegu division, Yangon, Pyin Ma Nar township, Aye Lar township, Yamal Thin township, Paung Tay township, Zeegong township, Oak Kan township in Bagu division and most recently the Lashio Township in the Shan state.
Awareness has been raised and social media has aided the worldwide support of Rohingya human rights. Through the assistance of citizen journalists on the ground in Arakan, the media are now reporting on the injustices almost daily.
However, there still remains a considerable disparity in the actions of national and international governments and organisations in taking steps to ensure the safety of the Rohingya, and ultimately the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law.
International agencies continue to endorse and favour Myanmar’s supposed steps to democracy. Even today organisations label the targeted attacks as communal, ethnic strife, and all but the arms sanctions, have been lifted by the US and the EU.
To the shock and disgust of many, the International Crisis Group even presented Myanmar President, Thein Sein with the ‘In Pursuit of Peace Award’ in April of this year!
It is integral to keep the momentum of Rohingya rights through sharing on our social media profiles and lobbying our local MP’s.
For Restless Beings sharing on social media, lobbying the media and MP’s were just the first, albeit vital, stepping stones in the campaign to raise the human rights of the Rohingya. Although it is integral that we continue to share news and lobby collectively, we, as an organisation, have in recent months began to focus on the advocacy aspect of the Rohingya campaign.
We are currently collating reports to issue to the World Food Programme so that they are equipped with detailed information to ensure that the most vulnerable in the IDP camps are provided with food, shelter and medical assistance.
Furthermore, in the coming weeks Restless Beings will be releasing another in depth project report summarising the account of this last year.
One Year On.
The Struggle for Recognition of Rohingya Rights Continues.