The Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority in Burma have been called “the most oppressed people on Earth”. They continue to suffer vicious attacks and systematic abuse by Burma’s government. Fleeing violence, over 140,000 Rohingya live in what many describe as “concentration camps.”
Denied use of their name in the recent census, Burma’s government now wants to fully erase their existence, asking the United States, the United Nations and the rest of the world not to even use the word Rohingya.
In just a few short weeks, President Obama is going to Burma for a meeting with regional leaders. It is critical for the existence of the Rohingya for him to say their name and demand their protection during his visit.
What’s in a word? Ro-hing-ya
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group from the northern Rakhine State in western Burma. Because past military governments have focused on promoting a singular Buddhist and Burmese identity, the Rohingya have become not only marginalized but, denied existence completely.
The Burmese government has isolated and demonized the 1.3 million Rohingya in Burma. The 1982 Citizenship Act denies the Rohingya people citizenship, and forces them to claim to be Bengali migrants, allowing the government to easily deport them.
Today, the Rohingya have become outsiders in a land they have occupied for generations. They are prohibited from marrying, having children, working, obtaining healthcare and going to school. Burma’s President Sein Thein has declared “There are no Rohingya” in Burma and they were denied recognition in the 2014 census.
What is Happening Now
Violence is causing many to flee across the border to Bangladesh to escape rape, murder, or arrest. The government denial of proven crimes further encourages lawless bandits to commit atrocities against the Rohingya people and NGO aid workers.
Humanitarian aid efforts are stalled. In March of 2014, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the largest provider of health services in Rakhine State, was banned for six months after the government claimed it favored treating the Rohingya.
Unsuccessful democratic reforms have had little effect on ethnic minorities. Burma still has a long way to go before becoming a free and democratic nation.
Share Their Story
Burma’s government is so extreme they won’t even mention the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority by name. With the Rohingya under attack, join us in asking President Obama to say their name and demand their protection when he visits Burma.
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Copy and paste this message and send to your friends and family:
The United Nations calls the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority in Burma “the most oppressed people on Earth”. Denied use of their name in the recent census, Burma’s government now wants to fully erase their existence, asking the United States, the UN and the rest of the world not to even use the word Rohingya.
Join me in urging President Obama to defend these people under attack and say “Rohingya”: http://justsaytheirname.org
How Did Burma Get This Way?
Burma has long been a global pariah for its suppression of human rights. Since taking control of the country in 1962, the Burmese military government has waged counter-insurgency campaigns against ethnic minorities in Kachin, Shan, Karen, Kayah and Mon States leading to widespread civilian deaths.
But the win by democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in the April 1st, 2012 by-elections marked a significant step in Burma’s path towards political reform. Days after the elections, Western nations lifted sanctions placed on the country over the past decades but attacks on civilians continue in minority ethnic areas.