World Bulletin / News Desk
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya Muslims stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services, according to a recent report released by Turkish charity group the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH).
The report, released last Friday, states that Rohingya Muslims, who are seen as foreigners by nationalist Myanmar leaders and extremist Buddhists and are denied citizenship by the government because it considers them illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh, do not have the freedom to travel. In order to travel from one village to another, they have to pay taxes to the government.
The report underlines that there is a great number of Rohingya Muslims who are detained, subjected to torture and raped, adding that it was difficult to accurately determine their identities or numbers.
Serkan Nergis, İHH spokesman, told Cihan news agency in a phone interview that the İHH released the report to bring the plight of the Muslims in Myanmar to international attention. “Muslims in Myanmar have been facing violence for many years. Thanks to social media, now the world is aware of their situation. Only by public support and media channels can we find a solution to this violence,” said Nergis, adding that the clashes in Myanmar had evolved into massacres.
The first glimmer of violence in Myanmar occurred in June after claims that three Rohingya Muslims had raped a Buddhist woman. Following the allegations, extremist Buddhists started killing Muslims living in the Arakan province.
According to the report, more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar have been killed and more than 90,000 have been left homeless since the violence started. There are contradictory figures regarding the death toll of the Muslims in the Arakan province, the location of the recently escalating violence in the country near Bangladesh. An aid team from the United Nations, which is the only foreign team that was allowed to enter the region, has said the death toll was neither as low as Myanmar’s government had declared nor as high as activists have claimed.
The report adds that the current state of emergency, which was declared following the clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, has further deteriorated the living conditions of Muslims. According to the report, Rohingya Muslims are not allowed to renovate their mosques or schools without the permission of the government, adding that anyone caught renovating these buildings without permission would be sent to jail. The report also adds that a new mosque or school has not been built in over 20 years.
The report states that Muslim families are obliged to present a family photo, which should include all the members of the family, to the government every year. Muslim families have to pay taxes to the government for each newborn baby or death in the family.
According to the report, Muslims are required to seek permission to marry and are obliged to pay tax for this permission as well. They are also not allowed to live in concrete houses but frame houses, the report states, adding that the Muslims are sentenced to jail if the frame houses, which belong to the government, are damaged.
In addition, in order to set up a shop, Muslims have to enter into a partnership with a Buddhist, who does not have to invest any capital but will have a share of the partnership.
They cannot benefit from the social services provided by the state, including health services, underlines the report, adding that Muslims do not have the right to work in government offices.
According to the report, a Muslim who commits an illegal act is not allowed to defend himself and is sent directly to jail. The report also underlines that Muslims can be forced to work for Buddhists or the government without any payment.