By Kate Murphy, Franklin & Marshall College
Citizens living in the village of Pwint Phyu Chaung were terrorized as they were invaded by the Myanmar military. Many lost loved ones and will be permanently traumatized.
Many reported that they were forced to make decisions for not only themselves, but their family as well. Due to the fact that many chose to remain in their homes with their families, the military invaded and made them pay for it. Especially women and young girls. If women chose to remain in their homes, they were split from their families and beaten until they were taken to a place where the soldiers would rape them.
The real question is, why are these Myanmar soldiers committing such violent and inhumane actions? These recent attacks began in October of 2016 when people decided to target a certain religion; one they did not believe in. The muslim group being targeting by the Myanmar military, called Rohingya, recently had been challenging the power and authority of the superior Buddhist community located in the Northern Rakhine State. It has been said that Rohingya has been oppressed for decades now. Fighting back, there was a set attack by a group of armed Rohingya in which nine police officers were killed on the border posts of Rakhine. In the eyes of the Myanmar military and the people of the Buddhist community, something needed to be done. This meant violence; specifically, this meant death.
This incident created “a brutal counterinsurgency campaign” that would not be easily exterminated on its own. Due to the unfavorable number of Rohingya located in Myanmar, the military was easily pinpointing their locations and acting upon. These actions involve removing residents from their homes by burning their houses to the ground and using force and weapons, raping women and girls, beating them senselessly. Entire villages, such as Pwint Phyu Chaung, were burnt down to the ground as a whole; not just individual homes. Many were killed throughout this campaign. This uprising terror has caused approximately 65,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh where many have shared their horrifying stories they have experienced.
As many Rohingya tried to defend themselves and their families, the Myanmar military interpreted this as a misunderstanding regarding their seriousness and the power they had. Many refugees reported their stories, all very similar, in which they first heard the military with sounds of gunshots from afar. Some did not even receive the opportunity to escape due to the fact that the military barged into their homes and immediately used aggression. The soldiers were looking for adult men to hold accountable by forcing them to line up against the wall, removing them from their homes, and beaten until some were dead. Others would be shot or killed with machetes. Women were forced to kneel on the ground and then beaten with a bamboo stick. After this, women and girls were taken to a place where they were raped.
As I am sure we all can agree, these actions are beyond inhumane and violate the rights of many citizens in Myanmar. Disregarding the rights of an entire ethnic group because of their beliefs and way of life is barbaric. The Rohingya genocide seems impossible. Although the United States has expanded tremendously in terms of diversity and such over the past three decades, it seems the rest of the country has yet to get there. There will always be disagreements amongst different religions. However, persecuting an ethnic group because of religious conflict is preposterous and irrational.
Many have lost loved ones due to these assaults and mass killings that they will never get back. Refugees will never be the same; most feel it is not worth living. The government needs to take action in stopping the Myanmar military before they do any more damage than they’ve already done along with creating peace for the Rohingya. Everyone deserves their own independence and to be able to have individual religious beliefs.