Understanding and responding to the Rohingya crisis
1.1 A crisis largely ignored for more than 35 years
As a Muslim minority in Rakhine or Arakan state in western Burma (Myanmar), the Rohingya have suffered brutal oppression and official discrimination since the country’s current rulers took power in 1962. Violent crackdowns on the Rohingya population such as Operation Naga Min (Dragon Land) in 1978 and Operation Pyi Thaya (Clean and Beautiful Nation) in 1991 resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. In 1982, Burma’s Citizenship Law excluded the Rohingya from Burmese citizenship, making them stateless. The Government forbids the use of the term “Rohingya”, refers to them as “Bengali” and promotes the view that they have no right to be in Burma, despite historical evidence linking Rohingya with the Arakan region as far back as theth century. Rohingya people cannot marry without government approval, are forbidden from having more than two children, have their freedom of movement restricted and cannot repair damaged homes without official permission.