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Published on 23 Jul 2012 | over 5 years ago

They have been called ogres and animals, terrorists and much worse—when their existence is even acknowledged.

Their story has to be told in a balanced way, the real story of what is happening to these people. They are the forgotten refugees in the world. Almost no one talks about them.

The UN have described the Rohingya as 'the most persecuted community in the world' and have referenced the Rohingya as the Palestine of Asia. It is reported that the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar from as far back as the 8th Century, yet in 1962, the Burmese military junta began a programme of ethnic cleansing. Starting by denying birth certificates and citizenship to the Rohingya, right now, the community are in a perilous situation where they are being targeted because they are not of the same race and religion of the Buddhist majority Rakhine. Looking darker and closer to the South Asian race as opposed to the more oriental looking majority, and being Muslims as opposed to Buddhist, the Rohingya are being targeted by state sponsored ethnic cleansing.

In recent weeks, villages belonging to the Rohingya have been burnt to the ground, whilst refugees fleeing to other countries have been refused entry left to fend for themselves on board rickety boats on rough seas.

The Myanmerese Government refuse to accept Rohingya as citizens and as such have no rights in a country they call their motherland.

Many NGO's and independent journalists have said that the situation in Burma with the Rohingya is a modern day ethnic cleansing. Reports covered even by the UK Guardian have suggested mass burning, looting and murder of Rohingya men, women and children.

Human Rights Watch and other independent advocacy groups say Rohingyas face discriminated routinely. In Burma, they are subjected to forced labor by the army, a humiliation not usually applied to ethnic Arakanese in the same area.

In 2009, five boatloads of haggard Rohingya migrants fleeing Burma were intercepted by Thai authorities. Rights groups allege they were detained and beaten, then forced back to sea, emaciated and bloodied, in vessels with no engines and little food or water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned.

The same year, Burma's consul general in Hong Kong—now a UN ambassador—described the Rohingya as "ugly as ogres" in an open letter to diplomats in which he compared their "dark brown" skin to that of the "fair and soft" ethnic Burmese majority.

While vitriol has come from both sides, what makes the latest unrest unique is that virtually "the entire population is openly and completely against" them, said Sai Latt, a writer and Burma analyst studying at Canada's Simon Fraser University.

"We have heard of scholars, journalists, writers, celebrities, even the so-called democracy fighters openly making comments against Rohingyas," Sai Latt said.

One Burmese actress posted "I hate them 100 percent" on her Facebook wall, 3 days after the post, her comment had nearly 250 "likes."

Prominent Burmese language journals have reported "only the Rakhine [Arakanese] side." And many people have lashed out at foreign media, accusing them of getting the story wrong.

The longtime leader of Myanmar's democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, has shied away from the blame game, saying the problem should be tackled by fair application of the law.

Speaking in Geneva on a five-nation European tour, she said that "without rule of law, such communal strife will only continue.

Please sign this petition to Stop The Killing of Muslims in Burma (www.restlessbeings.org/campaigns/voice-the-rohingya-petition)
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