Religion and the Persecution of Rohingya Muslims

October 24, 2017

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Over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the border into Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar's Rakhine state in August 2017. Thousands more are arriving every day by boat and over land. Rohingya refugees and international observers claim that the Myanmar government is pursuing a brutal and unwarranted crackdown against innocent civilians in Rakhine, using counterinsurgency as a false justification for its actions. Unfortunately, this situation is precedented—the Rohingya have long suffered persecution at the hands of the Myanmar state, which denies them citizenship on account of their religion and ethnicity. They have limited access to employment, education, healthcare, and basic human rights.

This week the Berkley Forum asks: What role does religion play in the ongoing persecution of Rohingya Muslims, who are arguably the world's largest stateless ethnic group? Does this situation constitute ethnic cleansing, as the United Nations implied earlier this month? What concrete steps should the international community take to safeguard the rights of the Rohingya? How/to what degree are officials of Myanmar—including prime minister and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi—responsible for these atrocities?

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