Rohingya disenfranchised in Burma

The desperate situation of the Rohingya people has led them to flee their country even though many refugees find still worse dangers awaiting them.  A mass grave of human trafficking victims has recently been found in Malaysia.  In Thailand Rohingya have been tortured, raped and killed. And some remain in limbo, trapped on floating ‘ransom camps’.

Traffickers are converting ships into massive floating camps, detaining up to 2,000 victims at a time in international waters.  As is usually the case, women and girls experience an added layer of exploitation, many of them forced to have sex with the men running the ship.  Those who die from lack of food, sickness, or violence are simply thrown overboard, and chances of escape are essentially zero.

For those still in Rakhine, the province in Burma where many Rohingya live, the situation is dire.  They suffer from the effects of floods, have little access to medical treatment, are sometimes deprived even of rations, and their movement is heavily restricted,

One of the weapons being used against the Rohingya minority is to deprive them of citizenship.  There’s much debate about the precise history of the Rohingya in Burma, but no ambiguity as to the position of Rohingya Muslims such as Shwe Maung; formerly an elected politician, he has now been told he is no longer a citizen and is uneligible to vote let alone stand for office.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who cast votes in elections five years ago have been struck from the electoral rolls, election commission officials have confirmed, although without providing a precise number.

The final list of eligible voters is due by the end of August, but it is unlikely that any Rohingya will be added given anti-Muslim feelings in the country, Rohingya leaders say.

This is a grand discrimination against a minority,” Mr. Kyaw Min said of the removal of Rohingya voters from the rolls. “There were only two other places where this happened — in South Africa and Hitler’s Germany.”

Shwe Maung, whose father was a member of the Burmese Police Force, has asserted his determination to appeal this ruling.

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