The Rohingya in Myanmar
Human rights violations and breaches of secularism and international law on small scales remain problems. Violations on large scales inflicted wholesale upon victimized and, often, defenceless peoples is tragic, violent, and immediate, even spanning decades into long-term effects of the entire lives of most of the survivors. They may never return to some semblance of normalcy in the dark and bloody tragedy brought forth from war. I see no reason to prevaricate here: people-groups at immediate risk of death, individually and collectively.
One such case in the current moment is the Rohingya, a Muslim minority with a millennia-long history in Myanmar. As Radio Free Asia has reported about the plight of this minority, “Thousands of members of the group were killed during the violence, and more than 740,000 others escaped across the border, where they now live in sprawling displacement camps in southeastern Bangladesh.” Six thousand refugees exist in a “no-man’s land” between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The Rohingya amount to an in-between ethnic and religious minority with nowhere to call home now. External support structures can help them. In fact, they exist in large numbers. No matter the good principles, reportage, calls to action, and acts of large NGOs and INGOs, and the largest bureaucratic organization in the world, the United Nations (UN), they are big and unwieldy enough to make mistakes.
Human Rights Watch has called for the end of arbitrary travel and other restrictions on the Rohingya. The Rohingya refugees have been facing difficulties after returning to Myanmar. Important as a backdrop, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya left Myanmar. It is based on a military crackdown on the Rakhine state. These are real victims forced to flee life-threatening circumstances.
As Al-Jazeera has reported, “For the first time, they were meeting representatives from the UN and international NGOs tasked with providing education to about half a million Rohingya refugee children living in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Minutes of the meeting obtained by Al Jazeera, show how the community leaders questioned the officials about the slow effort to give refugees formal education, the absence of a Myanmar curriculum in the camps, and the lack of consultation with the community.”
Some are asking serious questions about the lack of access to education. Typically, the idea is to provide an education bound to the nationality of the group, of the refugees. This means an education that the Rohingya could have expected in Rakhine state or in Myanmar as a whole. With some of this botched by the UN and other organizations, this is where there are serious questions asked of the UN and other organizations about failures in the implementation of the aforementioned principles of the organizations, as human institutions and then answering for the failures.
The problem with these refugees is threefold: the fleeing from military enforcement, the size of them in the hundreds of thousands, and the denial of the fundamental human rights as citizens, as Muslims, and as human beings. The pain and suffering from ethnic and religious persecution need to be heard.