The World Should Be More Outraged Over the Treatment of Rohingyas in Myanmar and Bangladesh

As I wrote yesterday, Human Rights Watch released a damning report detailing how Myanmar’s government colluded with local thugs during riots to persecute and ethnic minority known as the Rohingyas.

The Rohingyas are Muslims in Buddhist dominated Burma. They are an un-recognized minority group, meaning that the government doesn’t even consider them citizens of Myanmar. They have been the victims of systematic persecution for decades.

Bangladesh is just across the border from the state in Myanmar where Rohinygas are concentrated.  Many thousands of Rohingyas over the years have sought refuge in Bangladesh; the UN Refugee agency maintains camps in the region; international aid groups are deeply involved.

The Bangladesh government doesn’t much like having to deal with a large refugee population within its borders. When this recent flare up of Rohingya-targeted ethnic violence occurred last month. Bangladesh did not exactly welcome fleeing Rohingya families with open arms. Rather, border guards systematically intercepted boats and turned them back to their tormentors in Myanmar.

That was bad. What’s worse is that the Bangladesh government has now ordered three prominent international NGOS: Medicines Sans Frontieres; Action Against Hunger; and the British-based Muslim Aid to cease providing humanitarian relief to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.  Apparently, they don’t want to “discourage illegal migration.”

This is an awful and profoundly inhumane decision. Many thousands of lives and livelihoods of refugees depend on some of the basic services provided by humanitarian groups in the Bangladesh border region.  A stateless people escaping persecution ought to be the afforded dignity they were denied in Burma, not face further persecution by the democratically elected government of Bangladesh.

There really ought to be some more international outrage over this.