Ethnic Rohingya have long faced discrimination in Myanmar and
are denied citizenship, even though many families have lived there
for generations. Since 1999, the United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has declared Myanmar a
Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in its annual reports because
of its violent practices, lawless abuses, and discriminatory
treatment of non-Buddhists. Today, Rohingya Muslims are facing
increasing violence and are fleeing by the thousands into
Associated Press explains that Burma/Myanmar refuses to
recognize them as one of the country's 135 lawful ethnic
minorities, instead calling them Bengalis, with the implication
that their native land is in Bangladesh and they are illegally
settled in Myanmar.
The plight of the Rohingya has been drastically complicated by a
militant insurgency within the Rohingya community. The group, which
is known as ARSA, had its beginnings faraway from Southeast Asia.
The insurgents first attacks took place in October 2016, when more
than a hundred Rohingya men, armed with various weapons, including
knives, slingshots, and rifles, attacked police and killed nine
officers. In August 2017, the group struck again, attacking a far
larger area, which included Buddhist villages, killing many
civilians as well as targeting police. Unsurprisingly, the Myanmar
response was savage.
Outside Myanmar, and perhaps now Bangladesh, Pakistan is home to
the highest concentration of Rohingya in the world, from a previous
exodus of Rohingya in the 1970s and 80s. Pakistan was among the
earliest and most strident in condemning the Myanmar government for
its offensive, which started after Rohingya militants killed
members of the security forces.
Despite the fact that Pakistan condemned the Myanmar
persecution, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya migrants there
continue to live in desperation. Malnutrition and diarrhea are
common among children and there are no hospitals in the slums.
Residents said that up to 30 families shared a single tap of water
which often flows for less than four hours a day.
Thousands of Rohingya are continuing to stream across the
border, with U.N. officials and others demanding that Myanmar halt
what they describe as a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has
driven nearly 400,000 Rohingya to flee in the past three weeks.
That number includes an estimated 240,000 children, UNICEF said in
Geneva on Friday. They have gathered many, if not most, without
basic food or shelter.
"We had a big house, we are 10 people in the family, but they