Introduction and a civilian government took power in

Introduction

Myanmar is an ethnically diverse country with 135 recognized
national ethnic groups in its Citizenship Law (1982). These ethnic groups are
categorised into 8 major national ethnic races namely; Bamar (68% of total
population), Chin, Kachin, Kayak, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan (CIA, n.d.).  The major religion according to 2014 national
census are Buddhism (88%), Christian (6%), Muslim (4%) and Hindus (1%) (CIA, n.d.). Ethnic and
Religious minorities in Myanmar have a complex contested history. Upon
independence in 1948 Myanmar became a quasi-federal union dominated by Bamar
ethnic group. Myanmar has seen many internal armed conflict driven by
claims of minorities for self-determination, greater autonomy and an equitable
share of power and resources. This resulted in military assumption of power in
1962 and progressive exclusion of ethnic minorities from power. In 2011
government embarked on wide ranging reforms including adoption of democracy.

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Election were held in 2015 and a civilian government took power in March,2016. Rohingyas forms the largest Muslim percentage in Myanmar
with majority living in Rakhine state. They claim themselves to be a distinct
ethnic group with their own language and culture. Most governments have
rejected these claims. Rohingya were not allowed to participate in the 2015
election process. They are stateless at present. The Rakhine Buddhists view
Rohingya as illegal immigrants (Bengalis) with no historical, cultural, religious
or social ties with Myanmar. In 2012 the incidents of religious intolerance and
incitement to hatred by extremist and ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups reached
the zenith and Rohingya were portrayed as a “threat to race and religion”. With
this backdrop the recent series of violence erupted. The June and October violence
caused hundreds of death, injuries, burning of property and displacement of
1,40,000 (UNHCHR, 2016).  The repressive conditions in IDP camps, ongoing segregation,
discrimination and sectarian violence coupled with lack of opportunities for
return to normal life and systemic human rights violations triggered irregular
migration flows of Rohingya to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Trafficking
and smuggling channels were adopted to escape poverty and persecution. The 2015
Andaman Sea crisis came to be known as “Boat people crisis in south-east Asia” as
they were stateless and abandoned in the sea by smugglers.  Malaysia and Indonesia after some initial reluctance offered
temporary shelter to the migrants rescued at sea. Most of them remain detained
in shelters, camps or immigration detention, facing uncertain futures. In
October and Novemeber,2016 the Rohingya insurgent group named Harakah Al-yaqin
or Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) emerged and started attacking police
and army posts. The migration of Rohingya continued to escape poverty and
death. 

In August 2017 the ARSA carried out coordinated attack on
police and army post resulting into the repressive army retaliation i.e. burning
down of Rohingya Villages leaving more than 400 (some reports 1000). The fresh
wave of Rohingya mass exodus started to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape
persecution. The severe discrimination and sectarian violence against Rohingya
is root cause of their present condition which is still to be addressed in
Myanmar as well as International system. The below given Image 2 sourced from
Al Jazeera gives an estimation of Rohingya numbers taking shelter in various
countries for escaping persecution and violence.

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