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The Developments of the Rohingya Crisis

‘Myanmar Rohingya: what you need to know about the crisis’ (BBC News, 24 April 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

The persecution of the Rohingya people began in August 2017 and since then over half a million Rohingya Muslims have been forced to leave their homes in the Rakhine State of Burma. They are escaping ethnic cleansing carried out by the Burmese military, whose officials claim that these operations have not involved any human rights abuses[1]. However, reports show that the brutalities carried out include ‘deliberately burning people to death inside their homes, murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls, and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques,’ as stated by Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[2]. Although this crisis was widely reported in 2017, when military actions against the Rohingya escalated, there is less coverage of the developments currently taking place, leaving the public unaware of the help that the Rohingya still require.

Origins of the Rohingya Crisis

Myanmar is home to several ethnic minorities including the Rohingya, who represent the largest percentage of Muslims within the country and are thought to be the descendants of groups who occupied the region for generations[3]. However, successive governments of this mostly Buddhist country have subjected the Rohingya people to years of discrimination and repression. For example, the Citizenship Law of 1982 denied them citizenship, thus making them one of the largest stateless groups in the world[4].

Recent Developments

After being forced to leave their homes by the Burmese military, many of the Rohingya refugees seek shelter in the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. However, a number of refugees attempt to re-enter the Rakhine State to earn money. Many of these refugees have been apprehended by the government and tortured in pretrial detention before being sentenced to four years of imprisonment for crossing the border illegally. The Burmese government chose to pardon many of them after one month, which some have perceived as a superficial attempt to show that the Rohingya are once again welcome in the country[5].

Another issue facing the Rohingya refugees are the conditions of the Bangladeshi camps as the refugees live in dangerously built shelters where there is a high risk of disease[6]. On 30 October 2018, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar announced a repatriation plan for the Rohingya people, set for mid-November, but this would return the refugees to a place where their lives and freedoms remain at risk[7]. UN officials have urged the Bangladeshi government not to implement this plan as refugees have highlighted their fears at being forced to move back to Myanmar[8]. It is clear that the Rohingya people are still experiencing and at risk of being subjected to further human rights violations, showing that they need the help of the international community.

Natasha Sieradzki

Human Right Section Feature Writer

3rd December, 2018


[1] ‘Rohingya Crisis’ (Human Rights Watch) < > accessed 26 November 2018

[2] Stephanie Nebehey, ‘Burma Rohingya Crisis: UN cannot rule out ‘elements of genocide’, says human rights chief’ The Independent (London, 5 December 2017) <> accessed 26 November 2018

[3] ‘Myanmar Rohingya: what you need to know about the crisis’ (BBC News, 24 April 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

[4] ‘Rohingya Crisis’ (Human Rights Watch) < > accessed 26 November 2018

[5] ‘Myanmar: Security Forces Torture Rohingya Returnees’ (Human Rights Watch, 21 August 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

[6] Bill Frelick, ‘Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Need More Help’ (Human Rights Watch, 26 August 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

[7] ‘Myanmar/Bangladesh: Plan Puts Rohingya at Risk’ (Human Rights Watch, 2 November 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

[8] ‘Bangladesh: Halt Rohingya Repatriation Plan’ (Human Rights Watch, 15 November 2018) <> accessed 26 November 2018

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes above.

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