This is a guest blog post by Jessie Miller, 13.
In Myanmar, a longstanding irrational fear of the Muslim minority taking the place of the Buddhists has devolved into violence and oppression. Despite consisting of between four and eight percent of the population to the Buddhist’s ninety, the latter’s religion is claimed to be “under siege.” This sort of thinking is partially due to the widespread belief that Buddhism had 5,000 years before it was erased after the death of Buddha and the fact that the first half of this timeframe has already passed.
The Rohingya’s existence is denied by government figures, Buddhist monks speak loudly against them, claiming them to be troublemakers and essentially parasitic. The Rohingya are massacred, beaten, starved, and denied basic medical care.
The conflict began in 2012 and has yet to slow down, the 969 Movement, a group of monks helping incite the violence, and nationalists at the core of it.
On the night of January 13, over forty Rohingya Muslims, including children, were murdered in cold blood as some Buddhist radicals- policemen and civilians alike- were enraged by a Rakhine policeman’s abduction.
Doctors Without Borders, the main source of health care for Muslims, especially in Rakhine, was banned late February. That action took away the medical care needed by hundreds of thousands of people.
150,000 Rohingya, an ethnic group and subset of the Muslim population, were stuck in camps, as reported in late May, after their homes were destroyed. Humanitarian personnel were blocked from the refugees unable to leave, short on food and water and without medical assistance and supplies.
These incidents are just a few examples of what some people say is going to be the next genocide, and what some say already is. The sharp contrast between the large, relatively peaceful cities and the concentration camps and the freedom allowed to journalists only speaks to how the country, just transitioning from dictatorship to democracy, is sliding both forwards and backwards.