Separatists or Victims: 5 Things to Know About Rohingyas

1. Who are Rohingyas?

Rohingyas are a small ethnic group living mainly in Myanmar and neighbouring country of Bangladesh. Of the 55 million people living in entire Myanmar, about eight hundred thousand are Rohingyas. Majority of Rohingya people profess Sunni Islam in Myanmar, while almost 90% of the population of Myanmar are Buddhists.

Living compactly on the territory of the western state of Rakhine (also called Arakan), Rohingyas consider themselves as one of the indigenous peoples of Myanmar. However, in Naypyidaw (the capital of Myanmar) they are considered either separatists or refugees from Bangladesh.

2. History of Rohingyas in Myanmar?

Even in the 19th century, during the active British colonization of the region, the British Empire attracted Bengali Muslims to Arakan as a work force – so the Muslim population of the region began to grow gradually.

During the Second World War, when Burma (formerly Myanmar) was occupied by Japan, local Buddhists supported the Axis forces, and the Bengali Muslims remained loyal to the British crown. Then the two sides committed mass mutual reprisals, during which tens of thousands of people died. Since then, the attitude of Naypyidaw to the ethnic and religious minority of Rakhine has remained hostile.

3. Is this Long Standing Conflict?

Outbreaks of mutual violence were recorded in 2012, and in 2015, when the relocation of the Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh took on a massive character. The Government of Myanmar, Rohingyas, and the human rights organizations themselves argue, over this issue.
Thousands of people have been victims of violence in recent years. But the situation sharply worsened on August 25, when hundreds of militants of the movement “Arakan Army of Solidarity of Rohingya” committed attacks on 30 positions of the police. This provoked a new wave of violence: in just one week, 370 Rohingya insurgents were killed by the military. Another 17 civilians and 15 police and military men were killed by the rebels. And the number of refugees Rohingya in the ten days of the conflict has increased to ninety-thousand people.

4. How does Myanmark React to Rohingyas Issue?

Myanmar statesmen do not use the term “Rohingyas”, considering them the as Bengali people. At the same time, local media actively cover the violence committed by the “Arakan Army of Solidarity of Rohingya.” It’s militants set fire to Buddhist temples and desecrated Buddha statues. Moreover, the United Nations refused to supply essential supplies, water and medicines to the victims of the Rohingya clashes in Naypyidaw.

5. Reaction of the World Community on Rohingyas?

The UN calls on Myanmar to settle the ongoing conflict. Against the backdrop of the August events, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the authorities of Bangladesh to continue the long-term practice of receiving refugees from Myanmar.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also sharply condemned what was happening in Myanmar.  In the Chechen capital, more than one million people came to the central square with placards and banners with the inscriptions “No Genocide in Myanmar” and “Stop Muslim Violence in Burma”.