Recently news reports highlighted the brutal treatment of Muslim Rohingya refugees at the hands of Thailand’s military. Hundreds were beaten, set adrift at sea with tied hands and over 500 died.
Who are the Rohingya Muslims of Burma and why are they seeking refuge?
The Rohingya Muslims of Burma are called the world’s most persecuted people. They are descended from seventh century Arab settlers whose state was conquered by the Burmese in 1784. The group has inhabited what is now Arakan state in western Burma for centuries. 800,000 Rohingya live in Burma.
The Buddhist Burmese government and military have made persecution of the Muslim Rohingya a way of life. Here are some of the hardships they face:
Despite living in Burma for centuries, they have no citizenship.
Young men and women are banned from getting married. Those who violate this ban are subject to heavy penalties. No marriage permission has been granted since 2005.
They are arrested for minor offences or just for being out after dark and are beaten by the police.
Slave labour is exacted by the military. Villagers are forced to build and repair the houses of Buddhist settlers and military camps.
Their land is confiscated without compensation either to provide land for Buddhist settlers or to build military camps.
They are forbidden from travelling without permission. They cannot move from one village to another without a pass. This severely restricts their ability to trade.
They have no legal right to own land or property.
There are severe limits to stop food coming into the Arakan.
Illegal taxation is wide spread.
Over 2 million live in harsh conditions as refugees in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Malaysia. Sadly, these Muslim countries hardly treat them much better than the Burmese Buddhists.
Since the 1960’s this Muslim group of ethnic-Indo origins have been considered the lowest of the low in the mainly Buddhist country of Burma, yet their suffering goes unnoticed.
Remember the Rohingya Muslims of Burma in your Duas, as well as others around the world.