By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – Conflict between the Rohingya Muslims and the government of Myanmar have been ongoing for decades. Since 1982, the Rohingya have not been recognized as citizens, but rather illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They are a minority group that lives in the Northern state of Rakhine.

Rohingya Refugee, Photo Courtesy of Newsweek.

Conflict escalated in mid August after a group of militant Rohingya Muslims known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army or ARSA attacked 30 police posts and an army camp on the 25th of August. In retaliation the Myanmar government conducted operations to root out the militants and terrorists.

The response of the Myanmar military has been on a mass scale that primarily targeted citizens.   The Myanmar security forces looted, destroyed, and burned hundreds of Rohingya Villages. Men are shot and burned. Women are raped. Children and women are attacked brutally and killed. One mother reports that Myanmar soldiers threw her month old baby on the ground, killing him instantly. Another found her children beaten dead with a shovel. Around 100,000 Rohingya have been killed in Myanmar in this new wave of violence.

Overall more than 500,00 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to flee the violence. This migration is in addition to the 87,000 that fled from October 2016 to July 2017.

Myanmar officials deny these events, saying that it is all propaganda against the state.   A government representative goes further to say that all allegations brought to the government will be investigated and that state will protect any rape victims.

The UN Secretary-General said in a speech in regards to the violence, “I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who have had to leave the country.” The UN High Commissioner for Human rights said the crisis in Myanmar is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister described the violence as genocide. The National commission for Human Rights in Bangladesh is considering compiling a case against Myanmar and the army in an international tribunal.

For more information, please see:

 Human Rights Watch – Burma: Military Commits Crimes Against Humanity – 25 September 2017

National Geographic – Myanmar’s Rohingya Are in Crisis – What You Need to Know – 29 September 2017


AlJazeera – UN urges Myanmar to end Rohingya violence – 14 September 2017

AlJazeera – Myanmar: Who are the Rohingya? – 28 September 2017

Author: Katherine Hewitt

Katherine Hewitt is a first year Masters of Arts in International Affairs candidate in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is pursuing a concentration in Peace, Security, and Conflict. Her interests lie in ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Post-Soviet Sphere. She expects to graduate in December 2018.