The Rohingya in Myanmar: How Years of Strife Grew Into a Crisis

The Rohingya in Myanmar: How Years of Strife Grew Into a Crisis

Waves of violence have been occurring for years.

Tensions in Rakhine have often erupted into violence, prompting hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Bangladesh and Pakistan in different waves over the decades.

In May 2012, the rape and murder of a Buddhist prompted a series of revenge attacks against Muslims. The violence quickly intensified. The military began a wide-ranging crackdown and hundreds of thousands fled.

In October 2013, thousands of Buddhist men carried out coordinated attacks on Muslim villages throughout Rakhine. Human rights groups say the violence that erupted in 2012 and continued into 2013 amounted to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. A 2013 Human Rights Watch report said violence in Rakhine was a “coordinated campaign to forcibly relocate or remove the state’s Muslims.” The response from world leaders, however, has been limited.


‘Endless Stream’ of Rohingya Flee Military Offensive

“By far the worst thing that I’ve ever seen.” The New York Times reporter Hannah Beech describes a huge exodus of civilians into Bangladesh after a new military offensive against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.


Photo by Adam Dean for The New York Times.

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Last October, an armed Rohingya insurgency came to light when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, then known as Harakah al-Yaqin, attacked three border guard posts.

Over the four months that followed, Myanmar’s army, known as the Tatmadaw, and the police killed hundreds, gang-raped women and girls, and forced as many as 90,000 Rohingya from their homes.

How did the latest bloodshed begin?

On Aug. 25, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked again, targeting police posts and an army base. Security forces cracked down on the wider population, and rights groups accused them of killing, raping, burning villages and shooting civilians from helicopters. The exodus into Bangladesh began: More than 370,000 Rohingya fled.

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