The Burmese Government is committing Genocide

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The Prime Minister of Burma enables the Burmese military to commit genocide on religious and ethnic minorities.

Shabeeba Kasem, North Staff Writer

While news of the genocide occurring in Burma has recently broken into mainstream media, the conflict dates back to centuries of rights abuses against the Muslim-Rohingya minority in the Buddhist majority region.

Most of the Rohingya were forced to migrate as laborers working under British colonial rule, and because Myanmar was considered a province of India, the migration was deemed internal and uncomplicated. The Rohingya have since resided in the coastal state of Rakhine. However, In 1948, once British imperialism was toppled, the newly independent Burmese government enacted structurally violent policies that blocked ethnic minorities’ access to resources, jobs, and jurisdiction over federal policies, in order to further advantage the native population.

A new citizenship law that was passed in 1982 was the last nail in the metaphorical (but soon to be literal) coffin of the Rohingya people, who were defined as foreigners of a country which they thought of as home. The laws required “proof” that persons were residents of Myanmar before 1948 and were fluent in one of the national languages. Keeping in mind that the third-world nation barely had a developed ruling body, it is not surprising to find out that formal databases or documentation of ancestry were nonexistent. Moreover, even if documentation was available, Rohingya people were still denied citizenship.

The mass persecution began with the military government’s  response to a militant attack on nine burmese soldiers. Though the attack was isolated, the entire Rohingya community was immediately painted as the perpetrators since it was such an easy target.

This tactic has been used by oppressive regimes since the beginning of time. The Nazis blamed Jewish people for the country’s economic hardships, the death of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was blamed on the Tutsi people, and nationalism was the foundation of the Bosnian genocide.

The harms against the Rohingya people exacerbated after a series of riots in The Rakhine state resulted in the deaths of thousands Rohingya people. Since then, over half a million Rohingya have fled their country in search of refuge, flooding into bordering nations of Bangladesh and India.

Meanwhile, the global community struggles to find a cohesive solution to the issue, but many nations have distinguished themselves in the plight, namely: Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, and the U.S., all of whom who have sent money, supplies, and transport to the Rohingya people. However, The Indian government, who currently protects around 40,000 Rohingya people,  has recently begun efforts to deport the refugees desperately flooding into the country, an act that is not surprising in the face of Prime Minister Modi’s nationalistic and anti-muslim administration. According to the Wall Street Journal, Modi had been barred from entering the United States for violations of religious freedom. In contrast, Bangladeshi Prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has been outspoken in her support of the Muslim minority, saying that her people will share their resources in order to manage the refugee influx. And recently, the Dalai Lama has disparaged the Burmese government for their actions.

The burmese prime minister, Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, however, refuses to acknowledge the mass killings occurring in her nation. This has led to many political figures calling for the removal of her nobel prize in an effort to shame the leader into taking action. Pragmatically, the esteemed organization ought to protect its own image and remove her title so as to disassociate themselves from murderers and fascists who are complacent to genocide. Undoubtedly, the prime minister cannot stand as an enforcer of peace, and she must step down from her position and be tried for her crimes against the Rohingya people.

But most importantly rests the fact that these tragedies are only enabled through our own complacency and lack of action and knowledge. The first step towards a solution is gathering information. It is important for everyone, high school students and government officials alike to be aware of the events happening around them. I encourage you to speak with your peers about the Rohingya genocide, to organize initiatives for fundraising and political pressures on local officials, and to empathize with the plight of those harmed and oppressed by their own government. We as Americans enjoy the liberties of developed democracy, including the rights to protest and speak freely against government actions. But we must never forget our ethical obligation to the global population. As enforcers of progressive and anti-fascist norms, we must organize and inform each other of the issues plaguing our world and actively work against them.