After a group from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked military posts in the Rakhine state of east Myanmar on August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military responded with systemic and violent attacks on Rohingya civilians, their villages, and their land. It was estimated that by fall 2017, at least 500,000 Rohingya—about one half of the total population of this ethnic Muslim minority—have fled Myanmar, formerly Burma, many to makeshift refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.
Nongovernmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, and the United National Relief Agency have been on the ground assisting with relief efforts to feed, house, and provide additional support to the refugees. Testimonies from victims who have escaped the massacres speak of violent atrocities committed against Rohingya women, men, and children.
While systematic violence by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya escalated in fall 2017, the origins of the conflict date back to World War II. According to the UNHRC, the Rohingya “were not formally recognized as one of the country’s official national groups when the country gained independence in 1947, and they were excluded from both full and associate citizenship when these categories were introduced by the 1982 Citizenship Act.”
They are a “stateless” people who have been denied civil rights by the leaders of Myanmar for over half a century.
Should you wish to learn more about the history of the Rohingya and the roots of the conflict before teaching this lesson, the articles The “Ethnic Cleansing” of the Rohingya and Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi can provide this additional context.
It is important to note that the contents of this lesson reflect the Rohingya crisis in the fall of 2017, and as the conflict has not yet been resolved, statistics and information may change as events continue to unfold in the future.