By James Jackson Jr.
The Rohingya are an Indo-Aryan people from the Rakhine State in Northern Myanmar. They are a mostly Muslim population and are a stateless nationality. Prior to British colonization, they were a part of what was known as the Arakan Empire, later sectioned off by the British into sections of Burma (modern day Myanmar). Burmese and Buddhist nationalists argue that the Arakan/Rohingya people have no claim to the land of the Rakhine State despite evidence of their existence there tracing back thousands of years.
The Rohingya people are considered one of the most persecuted minorities of the world by the United Nations. The UN has reported that since August 2017 over 600,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh. The UN also estimates that as of September 2017, 340 Rohingya women have been raped by Myanmar military personnel. Buddhist nationalists, the majority of Myanmar’s population, perpetuate Islamophobic rhetoric about terrorism in order to justify persecution of the Rohingya people. A 1982 law known as the Myanmar Nationality Law excludes the Rohingya from citizenship, as such all the rights granted to Myanmar’s citizens are denied to the Rohingya. None of these facts or statistics include the death tolls from military purges against the Rohingya during peak years of violence such as 1978, 1982, 1998, and from 2012-today. These purges are carried out by Buddhist nationalists within the Myanmar military serving in the Rakhine State. The Prime Minister of Myanmar has ignored questions from the press about ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State in order to appease the nationalists and Buddhist majority population of Myanmar.
The violence against the Rohingya people can only be described with one word, genocide. The Democratic Socialists of America must acknowledge that the attacks against the Rohingya people are acts of ethnic cleansing founded in Islamophobia. Sacramento DSA takes international solidarity seriously. We as an organization support Palestine through the Boycott Divest and Sanction movement, and we explicitly stand for the liberation of Rojava’s kurds. It is my hope that we will add solidarity with the Rohingya to our record. I strongly encourage as many other chapters as possible to release statements of solidarity and acknowledgement of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, organizations such as BRAC, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, and Doctors Without Borders should be contacted.
In conclusion, Sacramento DSA should acknowledge the treatment of the Rohingya have been acts of ethnic cleansing. We must stand in solidarity against the genocide of the Rohingya and encourage other chapters to do the same.