A Crisis In Myanmar


Photo Credit: BBC News

Refugees making the dangerous journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh by sea. To them, the deadly voyage was worth it to escape the fear and persecution they endured in Myanmar.

McKenna Johnson, Reporter

In the southern center of Asia, east of India and west of Thailand, lies the country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Myanmar is home to multiple points of interest, including the beautiful Inle Lake and dazzling Shwedagon Pagoda architecture. A much less dazzling feature that Myanmar has been known for lately is the genocide speculation crisis.

Thousands of refugees have begun fleeing the tight militant control in Myanmar. One group in the 700,000 refugees stand out; The Rohingya Muslims, a minority religious group who previously resided in great numbers in Myanmar’s southwestern state of Rakhine.

I was lucky enough to sit down with junior Boise High student, Camden Mullens, who has extensive background information on this subject. She said, “I think people should know that both Muslims and Christians are being targeted in the country. But in different areas. I believe it’s important because people are dying because of their religion. And while it’s not in the same style as Nazi Germany, it’s still the same driving motive, get rid of the differences. It’s something happening more and more often in today’s society.”

These predominantly Muslim refugees have been flocking to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand, setting up makeshift refugee camps and awaiting aid.

The conflict started when Rohingya Muslims began attacking police posts. In return, nearly 400 villages were destroyed and 37,700 buildings were affected. People were gunned down in the streets, women were raped, all within the first 3 weeks of the military campaign.

There are multiple organizations working to help these refugees, such as World Vision and the International Rescue Organization, but their actions can only help so much. The real change will happen when Myanmar formally recognizes this ‘genocide’ crisis, an action they have failed to pursue since their military had been accused of genocide by an UN report. “I think the government is aware that what they are doing is wrong. So if they hide it no one will have to acknowledge that fact and they can avoid the guilt of having killed their people,” Mullens adds.

If you look in depth at that infamous UN report that took action to formally accuse the Myanmar military of genocide, you will hear all sorts of horror stories from sexual assault to children fleeing from burning buildings. The report is based on a mission conducted by several UN investigators that was prompted this past March. Those investigators, including Christopher Sigoti, were able to gather sound evidence of this event that could put Aung San Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner and the current State Counsellor of Myanmar, on trial.

Furthering the story has been proving to be quite difficult. Two journalists were recently arrested after trying to get information about the genocide, something that has been published more than the actual genocide crisis.

For now, we must wait and see how Myanmar officials will continue to respond to these accusations, if at all. As Mullens puts in, “They are in need of social justice.”

In the meantime, you can head over to World Vision or the International Rescue Committee to donate and support refugees suffering from this crisis.