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Genocide Watch Issues Alert for a Muslim Minority in Myanmar

Issue 12, Winter 2012
Genocide Emergency - Myanmar: The Rohingya

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority living in northern Rakhine state in Western Myanmar.  They face religious and ethnic discrimination by Myanmar’s military regime, which refuses to recognize the Rohingya as Myanmar citizens.  The Rohingya people are not considered one of 135 legally recognized ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, but they have lived in Myanmar for centuries, and Bangladesh will not accept them as its citizens.    

The first Rohingya people arrived in Myanmar as early as the seventh century, but the Myanmar military regime maintains, to this day, that the Rohingya immigrated to Myanmar from India while under British colonial rule. This disregard for earlier settlers prohibits the Rohingya from being legally recognized as a minority group in Myanmar.

The Rohingya have permanently settled in Western Myanmar and make up 1/3 of the population of the Rakhine State. There are close to 750,000 Rohingyas in Rakhine State.

Because of the Myanmar military regime’s denial of legal recognition, the Rohingya are denied fundamental human rights and freedom, and the military regime consistently perpetrates human rights violations against this vulnerable population.
  • The regime refuses to issue identification cards to Rohingya, which are necessary to be able to travel, as well as to obtain passports and enroll in higher education

  • They are denied land and property rights and ownership. The land on which they live can be taken away at any time

  • The Rohingya people are barred from government employment

  • Marriage restrictions are imposed on them.  They are limited to two children per couple

  • They are subject to forced labor, extortion and other coercive measures

  • Public services such as health and education are neglected. Illiteracy is 80%

  • More than 40,000 Rohingya children in western Myanmar are deprived of rights to travel, go to school or to marry in the future, because their parents had an unauthorized marriage or exceeded the two-child limit the Myanmar government has imposed on the Rohingya. These blacklisted children are refused birth registration, and so are not included in family lists and must be hidden during the authorities’ population checks

  • The Rohingya are subject to curfews and other restrictions on basic freedoms
The Rohingya are a dehumanized and persecuted minority in Myanmar.  Many attempt to flee to Bangladesh or Malaysia in rickety boats, but are not accorded the rights of refugees in those countries.  Some boat people drown.

Among the crimes against humanity the Myanmar military regime is committing against the Rohingya are: denial of citizenship, imprisonment in displaced persons camps, widespread murder of civilians, denial of the right to travel, denial of education rights for children, and denial of food and medicines.

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for the Rohingya of Myanmar. Genocide Watch recommends that:
  • The Myanmar Parliament should pass legislation that grants full citizenship to the Rohingya, with all rights of citizens of Myanmar, including the right to hold land titles, travel, and other rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

  • Plan measures to dissolve Rohingya displaced persons’ camps with international assistance, especially from countries in Asean;
  • Myanmar authorities should cease human rights violations against the Rohingya;

  • Bangladesh should adhere to its obligations under the UN Convention on the Protection of Refugees, by accepting boats of Rohingya refugees, permitting them to settle in refugee camps until they can be repatriated with full citizenship rights in Myanmar.

Source: Genocide Watch, Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch, 1-703-448-0222, cell: 1-703-448-6665, president@genocidewatch.org

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Executive Director: Prof. Israel W. Charny, Ph.D.
Director of Holocaust and Genocide Review: Marc I Sherman, M.L.S.
 
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