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The Awful Plight of the Rohingya People

February 2, 2017
Plain English Version
The Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group. Their home is Myanmar (also called Burma). Even though they live in Myanmar, they are not Myanmar citizens. The U.N. says they are the world’s most persecuted minority group.

The Myanmar government invade their villages. There are reports of rape and torture. This has gone on for years. Many Rohingya have fled to surrounding countries. Most flee to Bangladesh.

Change is taking place. The threat of Islamic terrorist groups is behind the change. First, the Rohingya in Myanmar are starting to fight back. Hundreds of Rohingya militants attacked a border guard post. They used knives and slingshots. They seized weapons and ammunition. They killed nine Myanmar police officers.

Experts say it is the beginning of an armed resistance. It will impact more just the Rohingya people. Money and support from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are behind the movement. The status of the Rohingya is a concern for many humanitarian groups around the world.

Some observers say the Rohingya may become a global Muslim cause. This means foreign jihadists may pour in. It also means the Myanmar army will take drastic steps to protect the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees live in makeshift shelters in Bangladesh refugee camps. The biggest refugee camp is in the city of Cox’s Bazar. Thousands of refugees have spilled over from the camp. They occupy large parts of the city. Conditions are miserable.

Thengar Char, the proposed site for Rohingya refugees.Photo Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Thengar Char, the proposed site for Rohingya refugees.Photo Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Bangladesh came up with a plan. It wants to move the refugees to a remote island called Thengar Char. High tides lash the island year-round. It is submerged during the monsoon season. When the Bangladesh government proposed this move before, there was a great outcry. The government withdrew the plan. The plan is back again.

Some observers suspect there is a reason to move the refugees to Thengar Char. Cox’s Bazar may have the longest beach in the world. It is ripe for development. The refugees are in the way of such development.

The plight of the Rohingya is desperate. As one man put it, “At the end of the day, what we want or do not want is not going to matter to anyone.”

Source: The New York Times January 19, 2017 and January 31, 2017

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