The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Behind closed doors: Genocide unfolds in Myanmar

in Beyond Our Walls by

The Rohingya People, a group of Muslims living in Western Myanmar, are a religious and ethnic minority in the predominantly Rakhine Buddhist country. The Rohingya people are indigenous of Myanmar, but they’ve been trying to flee to Bangladesh and other countries to escape the torture and lack of representation that they receive in Myanmar.

 

This conflict can be traced back decades before now. In an article by Jaques P. Leider, Scientific Coordinator at Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia, tensions between the Rohingya people and Rahkine Buddhists started in the 1950’s when the Rohingya people began to more strongly identify as a separate group from other Myanmar cultures. A timeline created by BBC stated that the discrimination between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims goes back hundreds of years, but it has escalated to the point where Rohingya people aren’t allowed to work, don’t have a census administered to them, and freedom in press coverage of the situation has been restricted.

 

On August 25, 2017, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants launched an attack on over 30 Myanmaran police posted to block Rohingya individuals from fleeing to neighboring countries. According to CNN, ARSA is a militia formed of 400 Rohingya people to help fight back against the Myanmar government. The attack led to a “crack down” on the Rohingya people from the Rahkine Buddhists and Myanmar government.

 

Cellphone videos shot by survivors and collected by NPR show “blue-green puddles of acid sludge [surrounding Rohingya] corpses without heads and torsos that jut out from the earth, skeletal hands seeming to claw at the ground.”

 

According to BBC a month after the attacks, more than 6,700 Rohingya people were reported dead, including 730 children. The military is believed to have commemorated an “Ethnic cleansing” or genocide. More than 288 villages were burned, and the Myanmar army is reported of raping and killing Rohingya women. In the past year, more than 600,000 Rohingya children immigrated to Bangladesh refugee camps. In an investigation conducted by the Associated Press (AP) and NPR, survivors were interviewed and collected evidence of soldiers “cutting bodies up” and “burning piles of bodies.”

 

“The Associated Press’s report that soldiers brought along containers of acid to disfigure the bodies and make identification more difficult. [This] is particularly damning because it shows a degree of pre-planning of these atrocities,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch said.

 

Furthermore, NPR stated that the Myanmar government claims that only 400 people died and that there are no state sanctioned actions being taken against the Rohingya people. There are many different stories on this crisis, and reporters that have gone to cover it have been executed. According to The New York Times, the UK considered taking away Aung San Suu Kyi’s, the president of Myanmar, Nobel Peace Prize due to the refugee crisis.  As the death toll rises, the world is turning their attention towards the Rohingya refugee crisis and genocide.

 

Kaia Newton is a photographer, cross country runner, and a new addition to the Polaris Press staff. This is their first year as a writer, and they were most excited to be able to express themselves through their writing, as well as create new bonds with other members of the staff. Kaia also happens to be a board member for ARS’ Real Talk and is a huge social justice advocate. They also are a lover of reading and are even a member of the Library Minions. Aside from school, Kaia also does aerial art on the side, meaning they love doing art using silk.

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