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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Islam and Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Myanmar - Where Rohingya Muslims Face Genocide


Of the present times, the worst case scenario for Islam and Muslims living in any non Muslim countries is Myanmar. While atrocities committed against Palestinian Muslims at the hands of ISrael and Kashmiri Muslims in the Indian Occupied Kashmir are given due coverage in the media coverage, the news of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Myanmar are generally censored and kept away from the media due to strict military control of the Myanmar army, which is alleged to have been hands in glove with the Buddhist monks for the atrocities committed to the Muslims of the country.

I tried to find anything good about state of Muslims in Myanmar, but unfortunately whenever I surfed, there were gory stories of genocide of Rohingya Muslims. 

Muslims have been living in Burma, the previous name of Myanmar since 7th century. The Arab Muslim merchants visited ports of Thaton and Martaban. Arab Muslim ships sailed from Madagascar to China, often going in and out of Burma. The Muslims arrived in Burma's Ayeyarwady River delta, on the Tanintharyi coast and in Rakhine in the 9th century, prior to the establishment of the first Burmese empire in 1055 AD by King Anawrahta of Bagan. And from then they have been living in various part of the country. Burmese Muslims are the descendants of Muslim peoples who settled and intermarried with the local Burmese ethnic groups. Many early Muslims held positions of status as royal advisers, royal administrators, port authorities, mayors, and traditional medicine men.The broad minded King Mindon of Mandalay, Burma permitted the Chinese Muslims known as Panthays to build a mosque in the capital, Mandalay, which still exists.

West Kone Yoe Central Mosque in Mandalay [Photo]

The current population of Myanmar Muslims are the descendants of Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors, Indian-Muslims, sheikhs, Pakistanis, Pathans, Bengalis, Chinese Muslims and Malays who settled and intermarried with local Burmese and many ethnic Myanmar groups such as, Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon etc.

The history of killing the Muslims of the country  of present times dates back to 1962. Although Muslims have held high posts in the country, the situation changed with the 1962 Burmese coup d'├ętat. While a few continued to serve, most Muslims were excluded from positions in the government and army. In 1982, the government introduced regulations that denied citizenship to anyone who could not prove Burmese ancestry from before 1823. This disenfranchised many Muslims in Myanmar, even though they had lived in Myanmar for several generations.





The Rohingya Muslims are the largest Muslim group in Myanmar and have been the most persecuted under Myanmar's military regime. As per UN reports, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Since 1948, successive governments have carried out 13 military operations against the Rohingya (including in 1975, 1978, 1989, 1991–92, 2002). During the operations, Myanmar security forces have driven the Rohingyas off their land, burned down their mosques and committed widespread looting, arson and rape of Rohingya Muslims. In many cases, land occupied by Rohingya Muslims has been confiscated and reallocated to local Buddhists.

Since March 2013, riots have flared up in various cities in central and eastern Myanmar. The violence has coincided with the rise of the 969 Movement which is a Buddhist nationalist movement against the influx of Islam in traditionally Buddhist Myanmar. Since then there have been a continued wave of violence against the Muslims. However since 2017, the extremists against Muslims by Buddhist has stepped, which is being dubbed as the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.


The atrocities included attack on Rohingya people and locations, looting and burning down Rohingya villages, mass killing of Rohingya civilians, gang rapes, and other sexual violence. During the persecution, the military and the local Buddhists killed at least 10,000 Rohingya people, burned down and destroyed 354 Rohingya villages in Rakhine state, looted many Rohingya houses, committed widespread gang rapes and other forms of sexual violence against the Rohingya Muslim women and girls. The military drive also displaced a large number of Rohingya people and made them refugees. According to the United Nations reports, as of January 2018, nearly 690,000 Rohingya people had fled or had been driven out of Rakhine state who then took shelter in the neighboring Bangladesh as refugees.

March of an Anti Muslim Buddhist Gang [Photo]

Despite many appeals by the UN and Human Rights Organizations, the Myanmar government has constantly declined requests for observer groups to visit the affected areas and know the actual facts on ground. However, the photos of Muslims that have been persecuted often leak out and appear in the media, but to no avail as generally the governments of free world sleep over it and do not forcefully assert their pressure on the Myanmar government to put an end to the atrocities against Muslims and let them live in peace.


In August, 2018, the United Nations recognized Rohingya persecution as genocide and ethnic cleansing, and called for arrest and prosecution of Myanmar's top generals responsible for crimes against humanity. It also concluded that government of Aung San Suu Kyi is covering up crimes against Rohingya and failed to offer them protection. But despite all this, the persecution of Muslims continues unabated in Myanmar.
Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh camps - Photo: VOA

Today, the Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis. By December 2017, an estimated 625,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar, had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017. Even Bangladesh government is not supportive to the refugees. Bangladesh considers most of those who have crossed its borders and are living outside of camps as having "illegally infiltrated" the country. Bangladesh has often tried to prevent Rohingya refugees from crossing its border. 

Those Muslims who remain behind are living a worst state sponsored ethnic cleansing with the assistance of the so called peaceful Buddhists monks. The Rohingya Muslims are described as the 'world's most persecuted minority'.

What does the government of Myanmar says: The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her government do not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group and have blamed violence in Rakhine, and subsequent military crackdowns, on those they call "terrorists". In fact Aung San Suu Kyi has no control over the military but has been criticised for her failure to condemn the indiscriminate use of force by troops, as well as to stand up for the rights of the over one million Rohingya in Myanmar. The government has also repeatedly rejected accusations of abuses. In February 2017, the UN published a report that found that government troops "very likely" committed crimes against humanity since renewed military crackdowns began in October 2016.

Watch a video below about the crisis - Facing Myanmar's brutal persecution, Rohingya refugees still can't return home:
The world conscious must wake up and some concrete measures must be taken for repatriation of the refugees back to Myanmar and the military and the Buddhist monks involved in atrocities must be brought to justice to avert any future killing of Rohingya people.

Author's Note: The data above has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
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