Global issues, Vol. 4: Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar

Rohingya people waiting at government building to be assigned to a settlement. Photo courtesy of

Over 400,000 Rohingya people are currently displaced and fleeing violence to neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, while over 400 are estimated dead since the first reported incident in Myanmar October 23, 2012. The United Nations (UN) secretary general, António Guterres, accused the government of Myanmar of crimes against humanity, including indiscriminate killing, infanticide, rape, and the destruction of villages during a UN Security Council Meeting on September 28.

Rohingya child in Nget Chaung internal displaced peoples’ camp. Photo courtesy of CNN

“This seems to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein said, according to BCC.
In Mrauk-U Township October 23, 2012, Myanmar Militia killed 70 Rohingya people including 28 children. In addition, helicopter gunmen opened fire on Rohingya villages in early November 2017. Human Rights Watch released satellite images showing fire destruction to numerous villages, according to CNN.
Myanmar’s armed forces murdered an estimated 300 Rohingya people in the village of Tula Toli August 30, 2017. While some fled by boat to Bangladesh, it is estimated that thousands of people still remain in overcrowded camps for the internally displaced, according to reuters.comThese attacks are one of many, targeting Rohingya villages since before 2012.  
The Rohingya are an ethnic group comprised of both Muslim and Hindu people with a population of approximately 1.3 million living in Myanmar, which is a predominantly Buddhist country, for centuries. After the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army killed nine border police in Maungdaw township in Rakhine State , Myanmar, October 9, 2016, the Myanmar Armed Forces issued increased military surveillance on the insurgent Rohingya group. Since then, over 400 Rohingya people have been killed and over 140,000 have been displaced due to the destruction of 1,250 buildings across five villages. This took a devastating economic toll on the impoverished community, according to
Rohingya refugees board a boat to Bangladesh. Courtesy of

The Union Citizenship act passed in 1948 is a law recognizing 135 ethnic groups for citizenship in Myanmar. The law does not consider the Rohingya people, rendering them stateless, according to un.orgConsequently, they are forced to identify with a foreign register in place of citizenship, which limits their qualification to vote, hold office, practice certain professions such as law and medicine, or even travel in and out of the country, according to

Upper School History teacher and Speech and Debate Moderator Mr. Valentine considers the issue a deeply rooted cultural and religious ideology that is influencing politics. Ultimately, Mr. Valentine says the solution involves an active national response. 

Rohingya people boarding boats on the Naf River. Courtesy of The New York Times

“The logical response to these crimes against humanity should fall on the United Nations and a global coalition, with the end result being to deal with the current acts and hopefully prevent future ones from happening,” Mr. Valentine said.

This is a humanitarian issue classified by centuries of ethnic discrimination that threatens to qualify on the UN genocide classification scale, according to Although UN humanitarian efforts and media outcry attempt to shed light on the issues, for Rohingya people, the future remains grim, according to
“When they are being killed and forcibly transferred in a widespread or systematic manner, this could constitute ethnic cleansing and could amount to crimes against humanity,” UN special advisor for the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng said, according to
-Nina Rosenblum, Opinions and Podcast Editor