Rohingya Muslims are a Muslim community, which reside mostly in western Burma (Myanmar) and are almost 1.5 million in number. A majority among them also reside in the northern state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. The Rohingya have been subjected to oppression, tyranny and cruelty over the years. They have been denied basic rights as they are not even recognized as citizens of Myanmar.
The Rohingya are denied basic rights, such as the freedom to marry without permission from the government. They are also forced into manual labour on government projects for free since an early age and are also denied the right to vote. They are referred to as the most persecuted community in the world and in order to escape to a land which can grant them civil rights, they have decided to flee Myanmar. In a desperate bid, the Rohingya have taken to overcrowded boats in order to flee Myanmar and reach Malaysia or Bangladesh. However, with most countries not willing to open the doors for the refugees, the Rohingya are dangerously stranded at sea. Hundreds of these Muslims have died as a result of the boat capsizing in the middle of the sea.
Since they have been denied citizenship in the 1982 Citizenship Act, there are numerous restrictions on the Rohingya Muslims (some of which are also mentioned above). They cannot work for the government neither can they be voted in power or hold a public office. The Rohingya have also been restricted to the borders of the Rakhine state and cannot further travel outside this imposed jurisdiction.
The whole conflict began when in May 2012, three Muslim men raped and killed a Buddhist woman. The violent crime sparked outrage and protests by violent Buddhist monks in which 10 Muslims were killed. The violence erupted ten times fold and as many as 75,000 Muslims were forced to flee their homes by security agencies and a sizable amount of male Muslims were arrested. That fall, nine townships in the state witness renewed violence against Muslims. About 40,000 Muslims were forced to leave their homes and at least 70, including 28 kids, died during the attacks.
Ever since then, the hostilities have resumed and Rohingya Muslims are made victims of assault and oppression every now and then. Calls from prominent personalities, including US President Barrack Obama, Turkish President Erdogan and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yusufzai, have urged the government of Myanmar to protect the Rohingya. Turkey seems to stand out as the only Muslim country that has openly acted in support of the Rohingya, sending a military ship to the aid of their Muslim brethren, stranded with distraught. Hollywood actor Matt Dillon even visited refugee camps in order to shed light on the horrendous situation that the Rohingya were facing.
Muslim countries around the world must join hands in order to send a strong message to the global community; that violence against Muslims anywhere is intolerable. With fierce armed forces, vast resources and substantial land at their disposal, Muslim governments around the world should not hesitate in providing relief to their brothers in distress in Myanmar.