Ensure the Rohingya are granted their rights and gain the respect they deserve

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Author: Anuj Khemka, Thomas Jefferson Middle School student, Arlington, VA.

Legislatures of the World,

     For centuries, the Rohingya, a Muslim minority living in Myanmar, have been the victims of discrimination, persecution, and blatant injustice. This repression dates back to medieval times when the Burmese invaded the Rohingya independent kingdom of Arakan and forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee west. The Rohingya would eventually return to their original home (now the Burmese state of Rakhine), but in a world in which many fear that the advancement of one race signals the downfall of another, the Rohingya have struggled to be embraced. Today, the Rohingya face violent military assaults on their villages, are considered illegal immigrants by their own government, and are raped and forced into labor by Burmese soldiers.

     Leaving Myanmar to escape this oppression isn't all that much better. Many Rohingya attempt to migrate to nearby Malaysia by boat, only to find themselves stranded at sea. Furthermore, stories of Burmese sailors capturing Rohingya at sea and torturing them, and Thai officials shipping stray Rohingya back out to sea, are all too frequent. Most fleeing Rohingya migrate to the Muslim majority country of Bangladesh. But to the Rohingya, Bangladesh offers refuge and not much else. In Bangladesh, the Rohingya are not allowed to work and as in Myanmar, they are seen as illegal immigrants. So while something needs to be done to end this predicament, evidently, merely aiding the Rohingya in escaping Myanmar is not going to change anything.

   Instead, this issue needs to be faced head on. I ask that legislatures around the world including those of The United States, The United Kingdom, the European Union, and other countries, demand that Myanmar agree to a set of terms that will ensure the Rohingya are granted the rights and gain the respect they deserve.

Some of these terms are -

  • Granting the Rohingya citizenship
  • Allowing international aid in the Burmese state of Rakhine
  • Making it safer, cheaper, and easier for the Rohingya to leave the country
  • Allowing international and national journalists to freely report on the plight of the Rohingya
  • Immediately ceasing all military assaults on Rohingya villages
  • Issuing an apology for the atrocious acts committed over the years against the Rohingya

With pressure from legislatures around the world, Myanmar would likely be compelled to make progress towards finally ending the millennia-long persecution of the Rohingya.

        I am just a 7th grade student in the United States, a country more than 8,000 miles from Myanmar. I have no ties to Myanmar and no ties to the Rohingya except that like them, I am a fellow human being. I cannot stand by and watch as an entire ethnic group faces mass annihilation. To me, to learn about the situation and then do nothing while the Rohingya screams of agony and fear become a mere pipsqueak is a sin. Instead, I will do whatever I can to ensure the possibility of a mass annihilation never becomes a reality, and I hope you, the members of the world's legislatures, will do the same.



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