Column: Sanctions should be put on Myanmar to show that rest of world will not tolerate genocidal behavior

The world is watching as Rohingya Muslims are losing everything.

Tatyana Monnay is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

The genocide of Rohingya Muslims by their own government has gone on long enough.

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority based in Myanmar. As a group, they represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar. With a majority of Rohingya Muslims living in Rakhine State, the Rohingya have their own language and culture that has been established in that region for generations.

Since 1982, the Myanmar government has not recognized the Rohingya people as a part of Myanmar. They have continuously been denied citizenship and were excluded from the 2014 census — as if that would make the Rohingya disappear. Myanmar’s refusal to accept the Rohingya population has essentially forced them to be stateless people.

The rapid rate of migration of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a result of persecution is being referred to as the “Rohingya crisis.” However, Rohingyas were fleeing from Myanmar far before the crisis began in August 2017. Rohingyas were always seen as second-class citizens in the eyes of the government of Myanmar and have been fleeing as a result of abuse and mistreatment.

The Myanmar military claims it is attempting to fight Rohingya militants rather than fight the Rohingya people as a whole. However, the United Nations marked the military’s efforts as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The Myanmar military’s offensive efforts are hurting Rohingya civilians and threatening to wipe out the Rohingya people as a whole.

While the Myanmar government puts the number of dead Rohingyas at around 400, Medecins Sans Frontieres, a humanitarian group, reported that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in August 2017 alone. Out of the 6,700, at least 730 were children under the age of 5. On top of that, Amnesty International, a human rights organization, claimed the Myanmar military raped Rohingya women and young girls.

The United Nations has marked this crisis as the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.” So, why has the international community been so quiet about a population of almost 1 million people being murdered by their government?

The refugees are in need of shelter, food, water, health care and other basic living needs. But what they also need is someone to stand up for them. The United States encouraged Myanmar’s military to “respect the rule of law, stop the violence and end the displacement of civilians from all communities.” China advised the international community to “support the efforts of Myanmar in safeguarding the stability of its national development.” Theresa May, U.K. Prime Minister, said the military offensive action against Rohingyas in Rakhine must stop.

The Rohingya need more than words from the international community; they need action. Myanmar is going to continue its devastation of Rohingya villages and human rights abuses unless it is put in its place. The international community must band together and enforce sanctions on Myanmar in order for its condemnations to be truly meaningful and impactful.

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