A recent Barnabas Fund addressing the persecution Rohingya Christians face, provoked me to thinking: why don’t we ever hear about the plight of Rohingya Christians?
The Rohingya Question has gained international momentum, particularly in recent years, seen as the most persecuted and unwanted group on earth, with ongoing violence described by the UN as the ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’. The plight of the Rohingyas has been recorded since 1978, a people officially unrecognised in Myanmar as a legitimate ethnic group; rather illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
According to the United Nation’s Refugee Agency, over 742,000 Rohingyas have been expulsed from Rakhine state, Myanmar from 25th August 2017, after hundreds of their villages were targeted and razed. Hundreds of thousands predominantly now live in and around Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh in UN camps and refugee sites.
This treatment of Rohingyas has incited global outrage, particularly directed at Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, throwing her life’s work into disrepute regarding her reserved approach to the Rohingya Question.
The legitimacy of Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1991 has been debated, with calls for it to be revoked on the basis of this issue. Amnesty International stripped Suu Kyi of its Ambassador of Conscience Award, Canadian MPs voted unanimously to revoke the honorary citizenship it gave to her in 2007, Aberdeen Council is to take back the Freedom of Edinburgh Award gifted in 2005; with similar honours reportedly revoked in Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle. This significant U-turn toward Aung San Suu Kyi was initiated in 2018, in the direct aftermath of the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh in August 2017.
Yet while the harrowing persecution of Rohingyas is rightfully being raised and monitored at an international level, the focus amongst world leaders, human rights advocacy groups and mainstream media is somewhat narrow and selective. News broadcasts, documentaries and online google searches portray this crisis solely as a genocide of Muslims, and details of their horrific ordeal readily available on the public domain.
I spent some time scrolling through the internet, mainstream news sites and Youtube to see if I could obtain facts and/or video clips about non-Muslim Rohingyas and found absolutely nothing. This is deeply misleading, as those who don’t subscribe to the work of Barnabas Fund or similar advocacy and Persecuted Church organisations could conclusively believe the persecuted Rohingyas to be a sole, Muslim ethnic group. There has been no international furore, nor expression of solidarity with the non-Muslim Rohingyas who not only suffer with their Muslim brothers and sisters on the basis of their ethnicity, but also at the hands of the majority Muslim Rohingyas on the premise of their minority faiths.
The Barnabas Fund article ( https://barnabasfund.org/en/news/the-persecuted-turn-persecutor-as-rohingya-christians-are-violently-attacked-within-refugee ) was released last month in response to a Rohingya Christian Pastor , informing Barnabas Fund of the increased attacks on their community by some Rohingya Muslims. According to the Pastor’s reports (which can be read in more detail with a short video clip via the above link), the Christian community are subjected to armed mob attacks, looting and destroying of Christian-owned shops and forced conversions. The active militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, have reportedly pressured some Muslim shopkeepers to not sell food and other items to Christians and prevent international aid from reaching the Christian community.
However, the state and scope of persecution towards Rohingya Christians and other minority faith groups is largely unknown. The sad truth remains that the official percentage of Christians can not be known, as the world does not grant them religious recognition within the ethnic group they pertain to. It is highly possible that Rohingya Christians are on the verge of extinction, as they not only belong to a massacred people, but ascribe to minority faith beliefs that run contrary to the dominant religion of their ethnic group.
They are experiencing persecution amongst a persecuted people and it’s of mounting importance the world recognises and addresses this.