“America! Stop interfering with other countries,” he wrote.
Artan’s Facebook post throws a little-known and long-persecuted Muslim community in western Burma, also known as Myanmar, into the spotlight.
More than 1 million Rohingya Muslims live in Burma, but they have long been denied citizenship and other basic rights, and many from Burma’s Buddhist majority consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi — the Nobel laureate leading Burma’s new civilian government — has been criticized for refusing to use the term “Rohingya,” which she says is inflammatory.
In recent weeks, thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing into the forests and neighboring Bangladesh on the heels of a brutal military crackdown that followed a terrorist attack on police posts Oct. 9, allegedly carried out by Rohingya militants.
Human Rights Watch has alleged that the military has perpetrated a scorched-earth campaign, providing before-and-after satellite images that showed three villages completely burned. The death toll estimates vary, but several dozen have been killed since October, activists say.
Earlier this week, a U.N. refugee agency official, John McKissick, was in the Bangladesh region of Cox’s Bazar — where more than 30,000 people, many of them Rohingya, have fled to — and told the BBC that Burmese troops were “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh. He said that the “ultimate goal” of Burma's government is “ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.”
Suu Kyi’s government dismissed his comments as “unjust allegations.”
Suu Kyi, who was awarded in the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to combat the military junta that ruled her country for decades, has been the subject of much international criticism for what some say is a failure to address the human rights abuses in her country.
More than 100,000 Rohingya continue to be confined to squalid displaced-persons camps in Rakhine state, four years after violent clashes with their Buddhists neighbors that left more than 200 dead. They have little access to decent health care or education for their children, and their movements remain restricted, according to a U.N. report in June.
The report cited a “pattern of gross human rights violations” against the Rohingya, acts that it said could rise to the level of “crimes against humanity” in a court.
Suu Kyi told The Washington Post in an exclusive interview in October that it will “take time” to address the crisis and deflected charges that she had not done enough to intervene.
“Things take time,” she said. “The situation in the Rakhine is a legacy of many, many decades of problems. It is not something that happened overnight. We’re not going to be able to resolve it overnight. It goes back even to the last century.”
Suu Kyi’s government came to power in March after the country’s first election after decades of military rule, but the generals still retain enormous power and are in charge of the country’s security forces.