Who Are The Rohingya and Why Are They Fleeing?

In August 2017, thousands of Rohingya militants staged a coordinated attack that killed 12 security officers in the Myanmar state of Rakhine.

This sparked a brutal and bloody crackdown on the Rohingya by the Burmese military — which involved murder, rape and other vicious acts of intimidation. This caused over 400,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, sparking what some are calling the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

So, who are the Rohingya and why are they being targeted in the first place? First, they are a stateless people who have been rejected almost everywhere they go. They are an ethnic group that speak their own language and are predominantly Muslim, though where they live mostly consists of Buddhist people.

The Myanmar government refuses to acknowledge the group and even banned the word Rohingya from being used. The group’s tension with the Burmese people stretches back to WWII. After General Ne Win took over Burma as president, Myanmar became defined by the Burmese ethnicity and Buddhist religion. This intense nationalism is what eventually lead to the crisis the Rohingya face today.

And while the international community has spoken out against the violence they face, they’ve done little to put pressure on Myanmar — and are essentially contributing to the crisis.

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