If you thought the situation of Syrian refugees is bad, think again. Another set of refugees coming from a different quarter, Myanmar, are Rohingya Muslims, who are perhaps one of the most persecuted communities in the world. The Rohingya have been the subjects of terrible persecution in Myanmar due to them being viewed as “outsiders” who do not deserve any constitutional rights.
The severity of their situation can be inferred from the fact that there are more Rohingya Muslims coming into America as refugees than Syrians. In the past year, around 11,902 Rohingya Muslims entered America as refugees while the number of Syrian refugees is fewer at 11,598. Even as the world’s focus was on the Syrian refugees, with President Obama promising to settle about 10,000 Syrians from the country torn apart by violence, refugees from Myanmar have been receiving far less attention.
The Rohingya have been at the receiving end of a violent and systematic persecution at the hands of the Buddhists in Myanmar. Having Bangladeshi roots, the Rohingya are seen as outsiders. As such, they are not given any freedom and are treated as though they are not worthy of human dignity. This happens despite the fact the Rohingya have been residing in Myanmar for a number of generations now. The Rohingya form about only 1 million of the 50 million strong population of Myanmar. However, they are not considered as one of the many different ethnic groups of the country. As such, they have no claims to any constitutional rights and privileges, rather, they have many restrictions placed on them.
The situation of the Rohingya is so bad that a number of them are now fleeing to surrounding countries like Malaysia and Singapore on makeshift boats. Once they reach these countries, they spend a few years there until they are accepted by the U.S. with “refugee” status. Back home in Myanmar, they are forced to live in slum-like colonies which are made up of little more than makeshift houses. Stripped of voting rights, they are not even allowed to contest elections