In the image above a woman reaches out for help as many people attempt in helping to assist her in crossing from Myanmar into Bangladesh. You can notice that the people around her, including herself seem like their suffering and covered in mud from the obstacles they faced to get to this point. Unfortunately, situations like this are all too common nowadays in our world. Many groups of people in different countries are facing violence and prejudice that many of the people in our country and society do not even know about. An example of this is myself, for I knew nothing that was happening in this country until I did my research and found out the atrocities that these people are facing on a day to day basis. Social media and the news are not shedding too much of a light on these issues to our country in this time period.
Compare to this, let’s start by shedding a light on the Rohingya who live in Myanmar. According to CNN, the Rohingya are a group of people who are Indo-Aryan speakers and not considered citizens of the state in Myanmar. They are Muslims who are excluded from the community because they are believed to be terrorists or illegal immigrants within the state because of the stereotypes of their religion. There were approximately 1 million people from this group living in this country before the genocide began but only around 400,000 left after the killings started. Approximately 625,000 fled to the neighboring country of Bangladesh for the freedom they sought but unfortunately, stories like these are all too common in our society today. The genocide that is going on in Myanmar today is so extreme that it is to be considered an “ethnic cleansing” by the United States government.
These events started when the group was not allowed to move freely within the country or acquire higher education if they wish. The military began to put into place actions that would prevent the Rohingya from accessing the proper resources they should have been granted as living, breathing individuals. In the United States news, broadcasters have labeled this group of people as one the “world’s least wanted” ethnic groups because of these actions enacted by their government. This label is placed because they are a Muslim group living in a predominately Buddhist society, therefore religious views and beliefs are clashing with the leaders of Myanmar. The persecution started as camps that were designed to help reduce the population and punish this group but then spread to mass killings and arrests that would place more of the Rohingya in prisons.
These killings invoked a wide spread panic for them to retreat to Bangladesh where many of them were captured by the government and either raped, tortured, killed, or all of the above. This would be ruled as a genocide because there have been numerous killings specifically aimed at this group and intended in terminating them as a whole. The fact that the United States government labels this as an “ethnic cleansing” shows that this is religious based violence that is triggering these series of events. It can also be seen as a genocide because there is ill intent in these arrests because the military is raping and killing many of the men, women, and children that are attempting to flee for their lives instead of just arresting them and placing them within their own jails. If we compare these actions to the Holocaust we can easily identify certain aspects that are similar such as the camps, torture, and intended violence of a specific religious group. This horrific event is happening again only this time with a different religious group in a different country.
It is important to learn of this story and the current issues that are happening in our society because we must make a change in the way things are being run. If we believe that it is acceptable to completely segregate a group based on who they are and their religious preferences then we are reverting back to the prejudice and stereotypes that helped ignite even the most worst events in history such as the Holocaust. It is important to stay up to date on the current issues that are happening in other countries and in our own world because we must know the prejudices and biases that people face on a day to day basis if we wish to eventually become future leaders and activists in this world. As a college student this is all too relevant for me because coming out of college I wish to make an impact on the world that will help people in need, therefore I must keep up to date and become aware of the issues people face in our world. I urge you to reach out to the leaders of our country and people who have the opportunity to make a difference. You, yourself have an opportunity to make a difference by spreading the news of these hideous events to the social media outlets that everyone stays up to date on. By broadcasting these events on social media and news outlets we are reaching a lot more people than many would expect. We all have the power to change the world for the better. This is only the first step.
Brooke Ripley, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland is currently a senior Sports Management major at Old Dominion University. Along with her academic interests, Brooke is a member of the varsity rowing team and has received honors such as All Big 12 Academic Team and Commissioner’s Honor Roll for Conference USA. Brooke is passionate about sports and intends to acquire a masters in Sports Management after graduation from her undergraduate career. She hopes to someday pursue a career as a collegiate rowing coach in the sports industry.
Al Jazeera. (2018, April 18). Who are the Rohingya? Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/rohingya-muslims-170831065142812.html
Kranz, M. (2017, November 22). 5 genocides that are still going on today. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.businessinsider.com/genocides-still-going-on-today-bosnia-2017-11
Modern Era Genocides. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://genocideeducation.org/resources/modern-era-genocides/