have lived in Burma for generations, as a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country. The government does not recognize them
as citizens. Burmese Buddhists have referred to them as "illegal Bengalis
", and terrorists
In 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya were forced out of their homes during a violent conflict with Buddhists
of the Rakhine ethnic group. The displaced Rohingya now live in refugee camps
that they're not allowed to leave. With insufficient food provided, refugees resort to scavenging for grass and plants
The Rohingya have faced discrimination in Burma
for many years. As reported by the BBC
in 2009, Rohingya men are forced to work one day a week on government projects. Rohingya must obtain a permit to travel to the next town. Rohingya couples must obtain permission from the Border Security Force to marry, and may not have more than two children. These restrictions do not apply to Buddhists.
Over 200,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 1978, escaping a Burmese military operation that targeted Rohingya civilians
, involving widespread murder and rape. More Rohingya refugees arrived in Bangladesh in 1991-92; a third wave arrived as a result of the 2012 conflict. Bangladesh has refused to accept responsibility the refugees, and has ordered three charities
to stop providing aid.
Rohingya tweeter @Aungaungsittwe
has reported that Rohingya refugees are being pushed "to the sea daily"
, and that World Food Programme aid is being blocked
by the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party
. 74 Rohingya men, women, and children arrived by boat today
in Thailand, where they will not be permitted to stay. 450 refugees have recently arrived
On his recent trip to Burma, Barack Obama praised Burma's "remarkable journey"
towards reform, but also criticized violence
against the Rohingya. Democracy activist and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has offered to help with reconciliation if asked. She has said that the problem is one of illegal immigration, and that she does not know if the Rohingya should be considered Burmese. Her stance has prompted some criticism
As a potential solution to the crisis, Burmese President Thein Sein proposed deporting
all 800,000 Rohingya from Burma - a plan endorsed by hundreds of Buddhist monks. The All-Arakanese Monks' Solidarity Conference
has called for Buddhist "sympathizers" of the Rohingya to be exposed as "national traitors" - leading to public humiliation
of alleged sympathizers.
International Buddhist leaders
including the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh have urged Burmese Buddhists to practice "the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion."