Global Perspective: Human Rights Violations in Myanmar

James Cantu

November 1st, 2017

Most of those fleeing Myanmar try to cross the border in hopes of entering Bangladesh. – Photo by Can Erok/Depo Photos/Abaca Press/TNS

There is an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, previously known as Burma, and the United States lacks the political leadership to provide any positive assistance.

The Rohingya people are the largest minority in Myanmar, but are not considered citizens due to their Muslim faith.

Dubbed by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, they are denied healthcare, education, and the ability to marry or have children, unless with special licenses.

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar, and it is not like the peace-loving Buddhism that we all think of.

It is a militant ideology that stresses keeping all other religions in check in order for Buddhism to thrive.

The rhetoric used to justify and persecute the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s government sadly mirrors the rhetoric used in the United State against adverse news. Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, calls some of the reports “fake news,” that is being spread by terrorists. The “terrorists,” she references are the Rohingya people, whose entire population is almost entirely ethnically cleansed with the majority being affected are women and children.

Myanmar’s goal of ethnic cleansing via mass genocide and expulsion are becoming a reality. According to th e Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), roughly 604,000 of approximately 1.1 million forcibly-displaced Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 .

In some Rohingya-populated locations, over 80 percent of all houses are burnt to the ground. The official response to the burnings? The Rohingyas did it to themselves.

Displaced, vulnerable, persecuted, and stripped of their humanity, the Rohingyas’ plight is an injustice that we, as a Mercy institution and fellow human beings, are obligated to denounce and address.

As a Mercy institution, we carry out the mission statement of “mercy guided by careful consideration of the needs of our time.” As a Mercy institution, we are expected to uphold the five critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy: Earth, immigration, non-violence, racism, and women.

An ethnic cleansing shouldn’t have to be explained as a “bad thing,” or something that a regular person, like you and me, can pass off responsibility, citing that we “can’t do anything  about it.”

You don’t have to join the Peace Corps or some high risk volunteer organization to make a difference in the quality of another person’s life.

Aid can come in the form of donations, monetary or otherwise, and spreading awareness. By spreading awareness, a community of likeminded, social justice-advocating people can organize and create a larger impact than one person could have.

If financially able, one organization you could donate to is Brac. Brac is an emergency response group dedicated to caring for the needs of the half million refugee Rohingya who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh.

According to their website, the money donated goes to, “maternal and child health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and keeping children safe.”

So far, Brac has reached roughly 415,800 people, set up 10 primary health centers, and 50 health camps, along with numerous other services.

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