Rohingya burned out

January 31, 2021

From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters

Rohingya Muslims have faced extreme hardship at the hands of Burma’s military with the cooperation of the civilian government under once opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, spurred on by Buddhist religious leaders encouraging violence, rape, and genocide against them. The Rohingya Muslims who survived have since 2017 fled Rakhine State in Burma to refugee camps primarily in Bangladesh. They face poverty and restricted movement, and their children have little access to education and face abuse including child marriage.

Earlier this month, a fire almost completely destroyed over 550 shelters and 150 shops in Nayapara Camp. An investigation is ongoing, and it is uncertain whether shelters will be rebuilt or if the refugees will be relocated. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing medical care, winter clothing, hot meals and shelter.

Before that fire some Rohingya were forcibly moved to the remote Bhasan Char Island refugee camp, which Bangladesh leaders deny, and about 99 Rohingya trying to travel to Malaysia were arrested.

After years of being ignored, including when the persecutions began and other nations and the UN Security Council could have acted to help them, the UN Security Council did issue a statement condemning the attacks by the Burmese government and military.

Finally, Gambia filed a case in November 2019 with the International Court of Justice, which ruled unanimously in late January 2020 that Burma must prevent all genocidal acts against the Rohingya Muslims and must preserve evidence of genocidal acts. Burma’s military and Aung San Suu Kyi’s government rejected the ruling and still deny that the Rohingya are being persecuted.

To help, you can donate to these organizations specifying your donation is for the Rohingya Muslims: UNHCR at give.unrefugees.org; Doctors Without Borders at doctorswithoutborders.org.    

—Elise

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