Rohingya refugees in a Cox's Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh. (Reuters)

'Leave, or we will kill you all:' The Rohingya refugee crisis

Text Summit Staff

On Tuesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva called for full access to Myanmar after the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said earlier in a nationwide address that she does not fear "international scrutiny" of the handling of the growing Rohingya crisis.

The military campaign in the northern Rakhine state has resulted in upwards of 430,000 Rohingya Muslims crossing into neighboring Bangladesh for safety, this despite Suu Kyi saying in her speech that there has been no "clearance operations" for two weeks.

According to UNICEF, the bulk of the number of those refugees -- 230,000 -- are children. They and along with the mostly elderly and women are fleeing torched homes and villages, mass executions and unimaginably brutal violence.

(Before going any further, we highly recommend you read an excellent overview of the history of the persecution of the Rohingya via the Washington Post.)

The chilling quote in our headline is from a Reuters report, shouted by a ethnic Buddhist to Rohingya residents of a Rakhine State village. Thousands of Muslims were pleading with authorities for safe passage from remote villages cut off by hostile Buddhists.

But still, little has and could be done to counteract this crisis. In an article posted by Foreign Policy Tuesday titled "The World Knew Ahead of Time the Rohingya Were Facing Genocide," it said:

Early warning has not saved the Rohingya because it can’t offset the countervailing interests or cooperation challenges that make preventing or halting mass atrocities difficult. And unfortunately, these dynamics are particularly pronounced in the present crisis. The Burmese government, including its Nobel Peace laureate civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has made a concerted push to brand the Rohingya as Islamic militants. Tapping into international counter-terrorism narratives simultaneously bolsters the legitimacy of the military operation against the Rohingya and undermines their status as innocent civilian victims of state abuse.

The BBC report that the crisis began in August with an armed attack on police posts which killed 12 people. That was blamed on a newly emerged militant group, the ARSA, or Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. The attack led to a massive security crackdown by the military, which spurred the current refugee crisis.

If you want to provide financial relief help, visit the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF USA and World Food Program USA websites to contribute.


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