Abuses so severe they could amount to crimes against humanity: harrowing accounts of rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar’s army or police. Such is the plight of Rohingya Muslims.
Their stories have raised global alarm and galvanized protests against Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused of not doing enough to help the Rohingya. Myanmar’s government claims of the reports abuse are fabricated and launched a special commission to investigate them. But this story is as much an economic fight, as a religious one.
The area that has been a source of conflict: Rakhine state, where Rohingya Muslims reside in, the largest concentration in the north of Rakhine State. It is also known as Arakan.
A closer look at the area called Rakhine State: these 3 townships hold the Rohingya population: Maungdaw, Rathedaung and Sittwe.
But not all Muslims in Myanmar are from the Rohingya community: Out of 54.6 million people, 4 percent of the country’s entire population is Muslim, a little over 2 million Muslims. Out of that: 1.2 million are Rohingya Muslims located mostly in Rakhine State.
It is interesting to note that there are a number of distinct Muslim communities, not all of which share the same cultural or ethnic background.
Rakhine state is one the poorest places on the planet. The UN estimates its poverty rate is 78 percent, around twice the national rate with average annual household income of just US $500.
Only 37.8 percent of people have access to improved drinking water, 31.8 percent access to improved sanitation and just one in eight (12.8 per cent) have electricity for lighting.
Lots of focus has been placed on Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD) who won in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years in November 2015.
Suppression of the Rohingya has knock-on effects, and the most severe of them all begins with the government’s denial of giving the Muslim minorities citizenship: this in essence makes them stateless people, leading to the govt. policy and regulations associated with discrimination.
Because Rohingya Muslims are classified as stateless or non-citizens, they do not have an automatic right to education, work or social services