Rohingya Crisis Explained In Maps.
While Buddhism happens to be the religion of the majority in present day Myanmar, the region is believed to have been home to a thriving multi-ethnic society in the last 2,000 years. Muslim influence in Myanmar can be traced back to the 15th century. The Rohingyas trace back their ancestry to those who were brought into western Myanmar (referred to as Arakan previously and as Rakhine at present) by the British colonial government when they took over Burma in 1824, to work as farm labourers. Soon after the Second World War, the British departed. However, communal clashes started taking place between the local Buddhist population and the Muslims from Bangladesh who stayed on. In 1982, the Burmese government passed a Citizenship law that continues to be regarded as unfair and discriminatory by the global community. The law that gave national citizenship to only those Burmese who could prove having ancestors residing in the country before British colonial rule, was the strongest case of institutionalised discrimination against the Rohingyas, depriving them of holding any government office and several other citizenship rights. Further clauses of discrimination restricted their movements and even marriages and birth rates within the community were closely monitored and inhibited. With the change in citizenship rules, frequent cases of armed struggles erupted that aimed at destroying Muslim villages and mosques, followed by mass outflow of Rohingyas into neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh and India. According to majority of the Buddhists, ‘Rohingyas’ is a fabricated religious identity. Speaking to Al Jazeera on the Burmese government’s denial of the Rohingya identity, Professor William Schabas, an expert on genocide, says “trying to deny the identity of the people, hoping that eventually they no longer exist, denying their history, denying their legitimacy of their right to live where they live; these are all warning signs that it’s not frivolous to envision the use of the term, ‘genocide’.” On October 9, three border posts on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh were attacked by a group of Islamic militants leading to the death of nine policemen. The attack, that was reported to have been carried out by Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, was soon followed by a counter terrorism insurgency carried out by the Tatmadaw (Burmese military).
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