Editor’s note: This piece contains accounts of sexual assault.
Over the past few months, there has been the growth of an apartheid state within Myanmar, oppressing the minority Muslim population of the Rohingya.
Stemming from years of abuse, recent violent and terroristic abuses against the Rohingya — carried out by the Myanmar military — has made this one of the biggest humanitarian crisis’ in the world. Essentially, the military, is on a bloodthirsty and systematic, genocidal and sadistic movement to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya entirely.
Since Myanmar independence from the British in 1948, the Rohingya have been the pariahs of the state, with their legal status and citizenship ripped away from them, and since have been victims to some of the worst possible attacks imaginable.
According to Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the human rights chief for the United Nations, the military forces have been terrorizing the Rohingya population through such means as burning them alive, widespread shootings, terror act on schools, home and mosques, among numerous other unthinkable atrocities such as omnipotent rape of women and children within the Rakhine state of Western Myanmar.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have left their homes, fleeing for neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, where doctors are overworked, the refugee camps are filled up and there appears to be no signs that Myanmar Military will relent anytime soon.
On Monday, Dec. 11, the AP News ran a distressingly sobering and heart breaking story of these rapes, with girls as young as 13, being victims of the Myanmar military.
UW professors discuss whether persecution of Rohingya population in Myanmar can be considered genocideUniversity of Wisconsin professors hosted a seminar Tuesday to discuss the persecution of a Muslim minority group in Myanmar. The Read…
One such story is as follows: “The men bound her husband with rope. They ripped the scarf from her head and tied it around his mouth.”
“They yanked off her jewelry and tore off her clothes. They threw her to the floor.”
“And then the first soldier began to rape her.”
While reports of these rapes are becoming more and more well known, it appears not to even be the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds more women and children suspected not to have escaped across the border to reach doctors, and the help that they so desperately need.
If this wasn’t bad enough, government officials within Myanmar itself are attempting to discredit the factual reports of the rape, with Rakhine’s minister of Border Affairs, Phone Tint stating, “but look at their appearances — do you think they are that attractive to be raped?”
This is all part of a broader plan. Government officials are consistently denying the proof of tyranny, by brushing it aside as nothing more than it being wrong or face.
Stated within the New York Times, a member of the Myanmar government referred to the Rohingya themselves as “fake news.”
In the past year and a half since the election cycle that saw the birth of ‘fake news,’ we’ve seen it morph into a meme, and spread across globalized social networks. But we are also seeing the catch-all phrase of ‘fake news’ transform from just a cop-out utilized by President Donald Trump to attack the free press, and into the geo-political rhetorical weaponized force that’s being used within Myanmar — one that’s being used to decimate entire ethnic populations.
As well as attempting to erase the Rohingya from within, the Myanmar government is closing the door to outside observers, in efforts to silence the world from the crimes against humanity that are being carried out by the Myanmar military.
Journalists and politicians alike are barred from entering the Rakhine state by the Myanmar government. Sen. Jeff Merkely, D-OR., recently visited Myanmar, to see first-hand the apartheid against the Rhoingya. Once he arrived, however, Merkely was informed by the military that he couldn’t visit villages within Rakhine State.
In a press statement, Merkelysaid, “Having spoken with Rohingya in both Burma and Bangladesh, we are ready to double down on efforts to work with international partners to end the violence and address the refugee crisis that has spread across the region.”
Despite his urgings, there’s no reason to belief that the United States would offer any such support.
Behind the reigns of Trump, the current administration here in the states has made it depressingly apparent that all they care to offer for refugees is empty platitudes at best, and generally just espouse xenophobic rhetoric.
This is where the broader international community needs to step in. The best way to get around the political barriers and past the attempts to deem situations “fake” is through more international awareness. Organizations such as Amnesty International, International Rescue Organization, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders and Human Rights Watch among others, are valid ways to financially get your foot in the door and bring more resources and attention toward debatably one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ in the world.
By supporting organizations like these it’s possible for increased light to be shed on the country, indicating that we won’t let the Rohingya be wiped away, thus, in turn, putting pressure upon the government to stop its despicable actions.
There is nothing fake about these acts, they are real, and they are deadly. And by doing nothing, and being silent as officials deem things “fake news,” we are all becoming complicit in genocide around the world.
Adam Ramer ([email protected]) is a junior studying history and politics.