Myanmar’s transition towards democracy is not helping the Rohingya community in any manner, according to a recent report by The Associated Press.
In its latest update on the situation in the Southeast Asian country last week, AP examined the deteriorating effects of Muslim genocide on the lives of children.
Violent riots broke out in Rakhine State in 2012 between Arakanese Buddhists and the Muslim minority, which caused bloodshed and displaced about 125,000 people.
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In April this year, Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization released satellite images of Meiktila, a city in central Myanmar, where more than eight hundred houses were torched by monks. A month later, it was reported that Buddhist mobs, armed with sticks and machetes, burned down Muslim homes and mosques. Almost a thousand people were displaced. When fears of further violence began to surface, the Muslims were taken to safer abodes with the help of the army.
The AP report described how the threat of genocide in the northern Rakhine State, home to 80 percent of the country's 1 million Rohingya, affected the lives of children who didn’t have access to adequate education, food or healthcare.
Islamic educational institutions or madrassas have been closed down while government schools teach Rohingya children in a language different to theirs. Classrooms are packed with students and teachers are mostly absent. Lack of basic necessities like desks, chairs and stationery is also a big problem for the kids who want to study.
An 8-year-old was quoted as saying, “Our teachers write a lot of things on the blackboard, but don't teach us how to read them. It's very difficult to learn anything in this school.”
Rohingya are not allowed to study medicine in Myanmar.
The Rakhine Muslim community is officially illegal in Myanmar.
The AP report states, “No Rohingya birth certificates have been handed out since the mid-1990s. Rohingya children are blacklisted.”
Consequently, these destitute children resort to hard labor to feed themselves and their families.
Many construction companies in the country offer Rohingya children – as young as eight years old – one dollar for eight hours of collecting and carrying rocks under the scorching sun.
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They have absolutely no vaccination coverage which makes Rohingya children vulnerable to all kinds of preventable diseases. The poor community cannot afford medication. The Rohingya also face a travel ban in Myanmar which requires them to stop at various checkpoints.
“If Rohingya children get critically ill, they might never make it to a hospital, either because their families cannot afford bribes demanded at checkpoints or because of the Sittwe travel ban,” the AP stated.
The distressing facts of the report indicate that the genocide against Rohingya Muslims somehow stems from biased governmental policies.
The world community expects more from Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who fought for human rights and democracy in her country, and was even imprisoned for her fight against dictatorship.