By Eva Rian
Myanmar’s government has seemingly rejected any kind of ceasefires or peace agreements with Muslim insurgents, reports Reuters.
The insurgent group in question is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a group operating in the northern Rakhine State of Myanmar that was formed as a response to the Burmese government’s treatment of the Muslim-minority Rohingya population.
The Rohingya have been known as “the world’s most persecuted minority,” and recent events have led multiple governments, NGOs, and human rights groups to decry a marked worsening of violence. The Rohingya have long since been persecuted by the Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar that has stripped them of their citizenship, forced them out of the country, and subjected them to repeated violence, reports Economic Times.
As published in February 2017, the United Nation’s report on these human rights abuses reads like “a catalog of the most horrific acts humans can inflict on one another. The crimes include gang rapes, murders of pregnant women, and the killing of babies,” reports OZY.
In the last two weeks alone, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to nearby countries like Bangladesh, says the United Nations refugee agency. But they are far from safe in Bangladesh, which is one of the world’s most crowded nations, not equipped to care for a massive influx of sick, traumatized people, and keeps camps in a deprived state to discourage Rohingya seeking refuge, says KOSU.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on Myanmar to take the Rohingya refugees back. Far from stemming the flow of Rohingya out of Myanmar, the government has laid landmines across part of its border with Bangladesh, the Independent notes, to likely prevent their return. Furthermore, international aid has largely been blocked by the government, which alleges that the supplies were being used in militant camps – a claim Amnesty International sharply denied and rebuked as “both reckless and irresponsible.”
The Dalai Lama commented to The Global Citizen that he would “’definitely give help to those poor Muslims’” after analyzing the recent events. Other leaders value his opinion on the situation because he is speaking out about the matter from a religious perspective.
Amnesty International recently released satellite images of the northern Rakhine state of western Myanmar, which it claims shows a targeted campaign to push the Rohingya people out of Myanmar that is undoubtedly ethnic cleansing. According to Myanmar’s government, the recent military action is in response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s attacks on police and the burning of military compounds, reports Economic Times.
The ARSA’s most recent strike in August killed multiple men from Myanmar’s security forces. This attack has not only led to military action, but also caused violent backlash from Buddhists extremists and ultra-nationalist civilians. Myanmar authorities claim the arson is the work of insurgents and the army is fighting “a legitimate campaign against terrorists.”
According to Al Jazeera, the Rohingya are “widely reviled as illegal migrants from Bangladesh” and have been denied citizenship by the government. It remains impossible to verify either side’s claim, as the media and independent commissions from the U.N. have been denied access to the Rakhine State, where the violence ensues.
Influential leaders like Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai continue to call for an international response and express disappointment with the head of the government, Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi, perhaps best known for her efforts to increase democracy in Myanmar which won her a Nobel Peace Prize, continues to deny any wrongdoing on the government’s part.
Outrage over the leader’s conspicuous silence and active denial of government wrongdoing has pushed over 365,000 to sign a petition calling for the Nobel committee to revoke her peace prize, the Telegraph reports. In response to the recent ceasefire attempt, Suu Kyi tweeted that the government has “no policy to negotiate with terrorists.”