Rohingya currently possess little in the way of true voting rights, and the Burmese bureaucracy shut out any Muslim candidates who tried to stand in the local elections. They see their movement restricted in a way that is beyond authoritarian. The Rohigyans even have their love lives choked, as they’re barred from marrying buddhists, and also struggle to get marriage permits.
Not only this, but the law actually stipulates that they can’t have more than two children (they have the lobbying of the Ma Ba Tha to thank for that recent policy). Because of the 1982 Citizenship laws, they are not granted access to education or any other services. Furthermore it is perfectly legal for their property to be confiscated arbitrarily. Such is actually the softest of the actions that are taken against them; property destruction, unfair excessive taxation and forced eviction are all tools the state uses to subordinate this already disfranchised and displaced populace. The government drafts them forcefully to work on labour projects as slaves – children as young as seven have been working on road construction.
Rapporteurs and NGO members who have visited the townships found that adequate food and medical sanitations needed to ameliorate the hardships are not being provided, often due to state discrimination. The state seems to be actively trying to rob the Rohingya of each of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One report (mentioned in Al Jazeera’s documentary Genocide Agenda) found that in one cluster of villages, 86 credible instances of rape had taken place! The dissolution of Nasaka (Myanmar’s infamous border security force) was greeted by sententious fanfare, however their hideous behaviour has been compensated for post disbandment by the border police force (BGP). Force Administrator Major Tin Ko Ko revealed to some of the Rohingya of Maungdaw state that he would be bringing back Census operations (a mechanism that commonly serves as a guise for extortion)!
Myanmar’s judicial system is an institution of Islamophobia. To illustrate take just these two recent cases (which you can read more about here): the first involves a group being prosecuted for publishing a Rohingya calendar, which celebrated their people as an ethnic minority. The police chief arrested them (after outcries from both monks and the Ma Ba Tha) using section 505b of the Myanmar penal code, a law historically utilised by the Junta to prostrate freedom of speech/expression. Their third court appearance occurred in early December and was overseen by the Patriotic Myanmar Monks’ Union. The second involves a group of 12 men being convicted for allegedly being part of a Myanmar Muslim army. They were all forced through a swift and unfair trial that lead to them receiving five year prison sentences. Nandar Myint Thein (a lawyer for one of the defendants) claims that the prosecution submitted no ‘real evidence’.
In 2010, hate preacher Ashin Witharu was released from jail. Since release, the self-styled Bin Laden of Burma has been pontificating that the Rohingya (who make up 1.4% of Myanmar’s population) were trying to take over the country, just as the Mongols had tried millennia ago. This message struck a nerve amongst many Buddhist monks (monks involved in the Saffron Revolution have been recruited too, thanks to bribery and the state’s support for Ashin). Since 2012, massacres have been committed not just on the Rohingya but on Muslims who live in cities like Meiktila. Al Jazeera in their brilliant documentary Genocide Agenda (part of their investigates series) uncovered both documents from local government, the military (this one contained hate speech) and an internal UN report (said report is what revealed the earlier rape statistic) that clearly revealed that all this wasn’t just communal mob violence, rather it was state sanctioned in many ways. Professor Penny Green goes as far to say that the government arranged express buses for the mobs.
The catalyst for all of this was that, in 2012, three Muslim men raped and killed a Buddhist woman, which then lead to an initial massacre of ten Muslims at a government checkpoint, widespread mob violence, and the Rakhine security forces removing 75,000 Muslims from their houses. A state of Emergency was declared and the Nasaka started detaining huge numbers of Rohingya males. Human Rights watch released a harrowing 165-page report chronicling the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, within the time frame of 2012-2013. Interviews, data and pictures have all been collected here to present a narrative of pure savagery, which took countless lives and properties, and stretched across many provinces. If that report wasn’t devastating enough, International state crime initiative postulate in their own report that when one uses the metric for genocide laid about by theorist Daniel Feierestein, the Rohingya are in fact in the final stages of a long term social cleansing.
The evidence of genocide is so huge that the Lowenstein Human rights Clinic at Yale spent eight months reviewing it all, before decisively concluding that genocide was occurring. The Rohingya truly are a people hanging off a precipice.