Letter from the Director Regarding Attacks on the Rohingya People
25 September 2017
Thank you for your concern for the Rohingya people and others under attack by the Burma Army. Due to Burma Army attacks this month over 370,000 Rohingya men, women, and children have been driven from their homes and forced to flee for their lives to neighboring Bangladesh. Hundreds of their homes have been burned by the Burma Army and anti-Rohingya mobs that are supported by the Burma Army. Over 1,000 Rohingya have been reported to be killed and those who have fled have shared reports of rape and torture.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group of over a million people living mostly in Arakan State, southwestern Burma. They speak their own dialect of Rohingya and Burmese. While many trace their ancestry back to Bangladesh, Rohingya people have been in Burma for many generations and have been part of Burma since before independence in 1948. Despite this, the Rohingya are not considered by the government to be one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups, have been denied citizenship and full rights since 1982, and have faced discrimination and persecution from the Burma military and government.
The recent attacks by the Burma Army against the Rohingya that have displaced over 370,000 people is only the latest of a series of attacks by the Burma Army. Over 100,000 Rohingya already live in concentration camps from earlier attacks.
In the face of such persecution some Rohingya formed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in fall 2016, saying its role was to “defend, salvage and protect the Rohingya community” and to act in self defense. The group has been accused of human rights abuses and are considered a terrorist group by the Burma government, which ARSA denies. In the face of increasing persecution of the Rohingya by the Burma Army, ARSA launched attacks on police posts and a Burma army base in Arakan State in August. In response to these attacks the Burma Army launched a ruthless attack against the Rohingya population that resulted in the current humanitarian crisis.
The Free Burma Rangers have ethnic Arakan relief teams in Arakan State but no ethnic Rohingya teams. We are now trying to get humanitarian relief through these teams to the Rohingya displaced by the Burma Army.
Thank you for your prayers and help for displaced Rohingya families and for the Kachin, Shan and Ta’ang of northern Burma who are being attacked by the Burma Army at the same time.
Dave Eubank on behalf of the Free Burma Rangers