Efforts to end the infringement of human rights and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims: a background paperBy Nikhil Isac, edited by Executive council member Dana Al MarzouqAbstractThis background paper will explore the recent violations of human rights that Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have endured over the recent years.Introduction1.1 million Rohingya people live in Myanmar, mainly in Rakhine state alongside Buddhists which has marginalized the ethnic group for decades by refusing to recognize them in an official capacity as well as denying them the right of citizenship. Since August 25, 2017, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine State to escape mass atrocities by government security forces.Many residents in Myanmar consider Rohingya as illegal immigrants and so the Rohingya are discriminated against regularly,.The military has carried out killings, shelling, and widespread arson in an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing, launched following a coordinated attack by a Rohingya armed group.These insurgent attacks have drawn a fierce response from Myanmar’s military, and sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing to other countries. The US recently classified the acts of discrimination as “ethnic cleansing”, however, are divided on whether to deploy a peacekeeping force or not.Glossary Shelling: bombarding with an explosive artillery projectile or bomb.Arson: the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property.Displace: take over the place, position, or role of (someone or something).Repatriate: send (someone) back to their own country.Ethnic cleansing: The mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic group in an area.HistoryEffectively denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, Rohingya are one of the largest stateless populations in the world.Ethnic tension has arisen in recently in the Rakhine state but has been an ongoing issue for decades in Myanmar with frequent acts of violence taking place.In 2012 Rakhine state riots took place which were a series of conflicts between Rohingya Muslims who form the majority in the northern Rakhine and ethnic Rakhines who form the majority in the south. Before the riots, there were widespread fears among the Buddhist Rakhines that they would soon become a minority in their ancestral state.The riots occurred after weeks of disputes, including a gang rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by Rohingyas and the killing of 10 Burmese Muslims by Rakhines.There is evidence that the programs in 2012 were incited by the government asking the Rakhine men to defend their “race and religion”. The Rakhine men were said to have been given knives, free food and transferred in from Sittwe. The government denies these allegations but has not prosecuted any of those responsible for the crimes.On both sides, entire villages were “decimated”.According to the Burmese authorities, the violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and up to 140,000 people displaced. The government has responded by imposing curfews and deploying troops in the region. On 10 June 2012, the military was allowed to participate in the administration of the region. Rohingya NGOs abroad have accused the Burmese army and police of targeting Rohingya Muslims through arrests and participating in violence. The Rohingya were not even included in the 2012 census, instead they were classified as stateless Bengali Muslims.In 2015, in an attempt to escape violence and persecution, thousands of Rohingyas migrated from Myanmar and Bangladesh, collectively known as ‘boat people’ by international media, to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand by small boats via the waters of the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates about 25,000 people have been taken to boats from January to March in 2015. There are claims that around 100 people died in Indonesia, 200 in Malaysia, and 10 in Thailand during the journey. An estimated 3,000 refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been rescued or swam to shore and several thousand more are believed to remain trapped on boats at sea with little food or water. In October 2016, 9 police officers were killed by armed men, believed by officials to be Muslims. During his period, 87,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh. Although the government denies it, many allegations from human rights groups and a UN official against the government, stating that the government was attempting to rid themselves of their Muslim minority. In August, Myanmar further increased the number of troops in Rakhine, after 7 Buddhists were found hacked to death, assumed to be the work of the Rohingya Muslims.Current SituationIn January 2016, the government of Bangladesh initiated a plan to relocate tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who had fled to the country following persecution in Myanmar. The move has received large amounts of controversy. Human rights groups have seen the plan as a forced relocation. Additionally, concerns have been raised about living conditions on the island, which is low-lying and prone to flooding. The island has been described as  a “haven for pirates”. It is 9 hours away from the camps in which the Rohingya currently live.65,000 refugees have been estimated to have entered Bangladesh since October 2016: more than 200,000 are estimated to have been there already.An estimated one-third of Burma’s Rohingya population of 1.2 million have crossed into neighboring Bangladesh in recent weeks, while tens of thousands remain internally displaced inside Burma, without access to vital humanitarian aid.The UN human rights commission has commented on this issue of crimes against humanity twice in 2017 and have said that it regretted that the government was unable to act on the recommendations from the UN and supporting nations. The UN has recently called for an investigation on the violation of human rights and the UN’s refugee agency has called upon countries neighbouring Myanmar to open their borders to Rohingya Muslims  in refuge.Separately, former UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan is heading another advisory commission currently looking into the general situation in Rakhine statePossible SolutionsSteps to repatriate Rohingya refugees began in 2005.In 2009, the government of Bangladesh announced that it will repatriate around 9,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps inside the country back to Myanmar, after a meeting with Burmese diplomats. On 16 October 2011, the new government of Myanmar agreed to take back registered Rohingya refugees. However, Rakhine State riots in 2012 hampered the repatriation efforts.Boosting funding to specific countries, agreeing to resettle refugees and deploying peacekeepers. A potential first step could be taken by the U.N. General Assembly, which is expected to approve a resolution that would request the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy.The creation of a safe zone for the Rohingya as recommended by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as well as  calling for the Myanmar military to stop the acts of violence taking place.Useful Resourceshttps://www.hrw.org/tag/rohingya-crisishttps://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/sep/06/who-are-the-rohingya-and-what-is-happening-in-myanmarhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya_peoplehttps://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/15/solution-to-myanmars-ethnic-cleansing-of-rohingya-easier-said-than-done.htmlhttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38168917

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