Cox’s Bazar

A Case of Genocide

A case against Myanmar was brought to the ICJ by Gambia,
on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

By Saima Mirza | June 2020

Rohingya Muslims have been under siege for decades by the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar government. However, a collective effort by world powers can ensure a better future for these Muslims. Much has been written on the crisis, but nothing solid has been done to rectify the issue. This plight of Rohingya Muslims is getting worse by the day.

Who are Rohingya?
Muslims living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar are ethnically known as Rohingya and constitute one of the biggest minority groups in the region. Their presence is traced back to the Arakan Kingdom of the 16th century. Rohingya Muslims, as a minority, have their own distinctive culture, language and religion, which is the main reason for their plight as far as the Buddhist majority group is concerned.

Before August 2017, over one and a half million out of three million Rohingya were residing in Rakhine. But their population decreased drastically after the genocide by the Buddhist majority, backed by the state and the national army.

Myanmar’s army launched an organized attack in Rakhine state against theMuslims in the name of the fight against militancy. Hundreds of Rohingya villages were burned down and bulldozed, while their women were gang-raped by Myanmar army men. Thousands of people were brutally killed and forced to flee to the neighbouring countries, but their misery didn’t end there.

As per reports confirmed by the UN fact-finding panel, the army even opened fire on fleeing civilians and planted land mines near border crossings used by Rohingya refugees.

The August 2017 massacre caused an exodus of about 750,000 people to Bangladesh, which is right now hosting the largest number of Rohingya refugees – approximately one million people.

A Short View of History
The plight of Rohingya Muslims has a decades-long past. They were forcefully driven out by the country’s army after they overpowered governance in the 1960s. Consequently, Rohingya Muslims began migrating in the 1970s. The Muslim community was deprived of its identity and rights gradually.

The government stripped off their citizenship in 1982 and excluded them from the population census in 2014. If that was not enough, their right of voting was denied in the 2015 presidential referendum.

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