Stop the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar

The Rohingya is a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority of about 1.1 million living mostly in Rakhine state, west Myanmar, on the border with Bangladesh.

Though they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the Myanmar Government insists that all Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. It refuses to recognize them as citizens, effectively rendering the majority of them stateless. 

As a result of systematic discrimination, they live in deplorable conditions. Essentially segregated from the rest of the population, they cannot freely move, and have limited access to health care, schools or jobs.

In 2012 tensions between the Rohingya and the majority Rakhine population – who are predominantly Buddhist - erupted into rioting, driving tens of thousands of mainly Rohingya from their homes and into squalid displacement camps. Those living in the camps are confined there and segregated from other communities.

In October 2016, following lethal attacks on police outposts by armed Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, the Myanmar army launched a military crackdown targeting the community as a whole. Amnesty International has documented wide-ranging human rights violations against the Rohingya including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, the rape and sexual assault of women and girls and the burning of more than 1,200 buildings, including schools and mosques. At the time, Amnesty International concluded that these actions may amount to crimes against humanity.

The recent violence 

The latest wave of refugees into Bangladesh follows Myanmar’s military response to an attack by a Rohingya armed group on security forces posts on 25 August.

We now know that at least 80 inhabited sites have been set alight by Myanmar’s security forces and vigilante mobs, with massive fires. Entire villages have been burnt to the ground.

In less than three weeks, more than 370,000 people have fled Myanmar to nearby Bangladesh, making this the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. 80 percent of those fleeing are women and children, and many are badly injured.

There are reports of brutal violence and killings.

Not only are the security forces using violence to drive the Rohingya away, but they are shooting at close range people as they try to escape. The nightmare continues at the border of Bangladesh, where land-mines have been placed, posing a deadly threat to the Rohingya who have already faced so much violence.

This is ethnic cleansing which amounts to crimes against humanity. These are systematic and coordinated attacks, and the Commander in Chief has the power to stop it.


Help us apply pressure on the Myanmar authorities by urging the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s army to put an end to human rights abuses and to allow access for humanitarian aid. Tweet at him now:

.@SGMinAungHlaing Shocking human rights violations by security forces in northern Rakhine must end immediately.

.@SGMinAungHlaing It's time to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to all people in all areas of Rakhine State.

According to the UN, almost 150,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the first two weeks of the crisis alone, and more are coming in.

People arriving are injured, hungry and traumatized and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter and medical care. The Bangladesh authorities require urgent international assistance to help them support people in need.

Inside Myanmar around 27,000 people from other ethnic minorities have also been displaced in Rakhine State, and are being assisted by the Myanmar authorities.

The authorities have stopped vital supplies from the UN and other aid agencies of food, water and medicine to thousands of people – mostly Rohingya – stranded in the mountains of northern Rakhine State.

A large number of Rohingya relied on aid for their survival even before this latest violence. These restrictions have put tens of thousands of people at further risk and shown a callous disregard for human life.

The crisis in numbers 

150,000 - around how many Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the first two weeks of the crisis
1.1 million - the number of Rohingya living mostly in Rakhine state
27,000 - the number of other ethnic minorities displaced in Rakhine state
400 - the minimum number of people killed so far according to the Myanmar Government