Myanmar is a small southeast Asian country bordering India, China and Bangladesh. It is home to one of the most discriminated Muslim minorities in the global south.
The ongoing discrimination perpetuated by the Rakhine Buddhist communities, sectarian violence against the Rohingya Muslims.
A military crackdown on Rohingya civilians by Myanmar’s security forces displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and was the start of a series of inhuman acts of violence against the Muslim community in northern Myanmar.
In this article, we’ll tackle the unfortunate situation of the Rohingya Muslims as well as what enabled their oppression to continue for as long as it did.
The Brutal and Systematic Genocide of the Rohingya Muslims
The Rohingya genocide is a series of continuous persecutions and murders by the Myanmar military of Rohingya Muslims.
It consists of 2 phases as far as we know. The first known phase was in the form of a military crackdown which took place from October 2016 till January 2017, and the second one has been ongoing since August 2017.
The crisis forced over a million Rohingya Muslim citizens to migrate outside the country. Most of them fled to Bangladesh, which gave birth to what we now know as the world’s largest refugee camp, while others escaped to India, Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of South and Southeast Asia, where they continuously face discrimination.
Also Read: Rohingya Muslims: Citizens Of Nowhere
The UN acknowledged this to be a systemic ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims.
There are countless harrowing tales that follow the innocent civilians who had their homes broken into, those who fled for a better life and those who suffered long-term consequences for everything they went through.
Take Uma Suleiman’s story for example. During the raid she had her home broken into, forcibly taken by 2 army soldiers into a rice paddy then raped and left bleeding by them both.
Now she’s living in an overcrowded refugee camp in Bangladesh housing over 900 thousand refugees, taking care of a 3 month old infant who’s a constant reminder of the nightmare/fueled trauma she had suffered a year prior.
Her story is one of many who have suffered either having watched their homes burst into flames, children kidnapped, killed, scarred and mutilated and family members shot execution style.
The mass rapes have resulted in an unknown numbers of unwanted pregnancies and forced survivors with a terrible choice, forcing them to relive their trauma while adding a new layer to it.
That’s not mentioning the hundreds of thousands human tracking incidents that took place in Bengali refugee camps. Luring in Rohingya Muslims with false dreams of finding work and a better life some place far away.
Another tale is of a woman who got separated from her husband during a clash in which he was attempting to buy them time to flee to safety. Now, the woman is forced to raise her children on her own in a poorly set up refugee camp with not enough food and water for her and her children wondering about the whereabouts of her husband who had gone missing since the day they got separated.
In reality, the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims by the military and police forces of their government dates back to the 70s, and has been a regular occurrence since then.
The continuous ethnic cleansing and killings of them resulted in a refugee crisis, over a million citizens fled the country, the destruction of villages and towns across the northwestern parts of Myanmar.
Refuged Rohingya Muslim Children Denied Education
It’s been almost five years since a brutal military operation caused the unfortunate demise of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and displaced over 800,000 over the border to Bangladesh.
In what seems to be the world’s largest refugee settlement, around five hundred thousand children are in a desperate need of a proper education, which most international relief efforts are failing to provide.
Also Read: Islamophobia in South Asia
The Rohingya Muslims were already denied education in their home country in Myanmar after a military crackdown that took place in 2012 and never let up. And in 2017 the government schools that taught them in Burmese quickly shutdown after Myanmar Military’s offensive in august of that year.
However, after hundreds of thousands migrated to different parts of the world including India in hopes of pursuing better livable lifestyles and a chance to go to school had their dreams shattered.
Take the story of Ibrahim Mohammad, a 10 year old Muslim from northern Myanmar for example. His family says he used to be a vibrant energetic child with a big love for school and learning— but after witnessing the fire burning his parents’ house by Myanmar military, his grandfather murder by aggressive militant soldiers, and his mother forced to deliver a baby in the forest as his family scattered along side hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.
Ibrahim, who used to hope and dream of becoming a doctor in the future, is now prone to long stretches of silence, mood swings, and he barely smiles anymore.
Any education facilities provided by relief and charitable organizations did not have the children’s best interest at heart.
Reports say that most of these educational institutions focused on teaching the children songs in foreign languages to impress the foreign press and potential donors without taking into account the children’s other skills like speaking, reading and writing.
That made the parents frustrated and withdrew their children from these schools. The few families working odd jobs that could afford to hire private tutors to teach their children pay around $70 a month to ensure that their children learn.
Social Media’s Roles in Perpetuating, Enabling and Fueling the Hatred Against Rohingya Muslims
It’s a well known fact that social media influences the masses’ way of thinking regarding many topics and discussions. And the Rohingya Muslim situation is no different. Take the poorly constructed hate-speech censorship on Facebook against the Rohingya Muslims made by the Myanmar hate groups have elevated the general consensus and hatred towards the small Muslim minority.
During the UN’s reports on addressing the issue regarding what the Myanmar’s government and military forces and calling it a systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing.
But the UN report also addressed Facebook’s slow action regarding the hate speech that spread like wildfire in its platform, the UN report described it as a “useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate,” adding that the company’s response to concerns about its role had been “slow and ineffective.”
It said that the “extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination must be independently and thoroughly investigated.”
Facebook then worked to ban hundreds of hate groups created by military officials and citizens of Myanmar spreading hate speech against Rohingya Muslims. It said that some of them were followed by over 12 million people.