The Myanmar government, along with its civil population, has openly declared the Rohingya Muslims to be immigrants from Bangladesh and the former has unequivocally been held responsible for committing various crimes against humanity. The discrimination which is clearly embodied in the 1982 Citizenship law of Myanmar explicitly denies citizenship to Rohingya Muslims on grounds of ethnicity, permitting citizenship only in the presence of conclusive evidence to prove that their ancestors had settled in Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) before achieving independence in the year 1948. The acts of forcible displacement, violence and other atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslims, who continue to be stateless, have either actively or passively been advocated by the State itself. In the midst of facing violence and abusive acts, the displaced Rohingya have never been consulted on their right to return to their original towns and villages. When the law of the land itself has expressly sponsored discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, there is a lack of accountability to redress the grievances of the Rohingya community. This article seeks to analyze the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, based upon a critical evaluation of the report by Human Rights Watch titled ‘All You Can Do is Pray: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State’.
Going back to the cultural grassroots of Myanmar, the Burmans or Bamars comprise the overwhelming ethnic majority, dominating the country’s military as well as government and are followers of Thervada Buddhism. Though most of the other ethnic communities are recognized, the 1.4 million- strong Rohingya Muslims in the north of Arakan State are still seen as outsiders and denied usage of the ethnonym Rohingya (which is the word used in Bengal for Arakan).Over the decades, the Rohingya Muslims, without any legal protection, have been the victims of unjustifiable discrimination and violence by the anti-Muslim Rakhines, a Buddhist ethnic group, along with the agents of the central government. TheRakhines and members of the ethnic Burmese majority share a common feeling of hatred of the ‘Bengalis,’ a label they continue to contemptuously apply to the RohingyaMuslims.The 2008 Constitution of Myanmar ignored the rights of the ethnic minorities. It is quite unfortunate that the people of Arakan state echo the sentiments of their government. Even religious monks associated with some of Myanmar’s most well-established monasteries freely air their anti-Rohingya sentiments. Such animosity seems to stem from the belief that they are outsiders wanting to impose their own religion, culture and language on the natives in Myanmar. This mindset has further deteriorated the extremely fragile situation which currently exists in Myanmar.
The Rohingya Muslims have been victims of systemic and organized State persecution. Most of their homes and villages have now been turned into ‘camps’, to which they are strictly confined. Their movements are restricted by a government curfew, and they have lost their right to travel to other parts of the State. Apart from the glaring lack of opportunities to work and earn their livelihood, the Rohingya Muslims are, at times, deprived of even basic amenities like food, water and shelter. Such segregation has only resulted in turning the Rohingyas to become more hostile towards the State and even resort to criminal activities in retaliation. Thousands of them are desperately searching ways to flee this constant humiliation and ghettoisation. The UN says 1, 00,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar by sea since 2012. Commonly referred to as the ‘Boat People’, they constitute easy targets for human trafficking, lured by the hope of deliverance and a better life.
It is against this environment of deep-rooted hostility which grows stronger with every incident that the world community has been making futile appeals to the Government of Myanmar to resolve this horrifying crisis. Such behaviour violates the spirit of brotherhood that forms the foundation of every culturally diverse society. This perspective has further deteriorated the extremely fragile situation existing in Burma; in terms of the fundamental rights of the Rohingya Muslims. The Myanmar Government has not ratified most of the international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which has led to a continual lack of accountability on behalf of the State with respect to the religious and ethnic violence faced by the Rohingya Muslims.
Though the Rohingya Muslims have been in Myanmar for quite some time now, their present-day populations dates back at least a century, and perhaps much longer. In the impoverished region they call home, paperwork in order to obtain legal citizenship is often impossible to get duly completed. Meanwhile, they’ve been denied the right to vote and have been prevented from entering professions like law and medicine. Yet none of their neighbors, including Bangladesh, are willing to accept the Rohingya Muslims as one of their own, either.
The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ has been defined as a purposeful policy by an ethnic or religious group to remove, by violent and terror-inspiring means, the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain areas within defined territorial limits.The criminal acts that have been committed against the RohingyaMuslim in the Arakan State, beginning in the month of June 2012, clearly amount to‘crimes against humanity’. Ininternational law, crimes against humanity are crimes that form a part of a widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population. The attack must be against a specific population and part of a state or organizational policy. Usually, the perpetrators of such instances of ethnic cleansing are non-state organizations, including political parties and religious bodies, who end up having a sufficient degree of involvement in organizing the same. 
The United Nations Organisation hasacknowledged forced population transfers and other abuses that have been committed against the RohingyaMuslims. Since the 1990s, UN Special Rapporteurs have identified these abuses in terms of indicating the commission of international crimes, referring to the nature of these abuses as being widespread, systematic and resulting from State policy.Reports indicate that political and religious leaders in the Arakan State planned, organized, and incited attacks against the Rohingya and other Muslims with the particular intent to drive them from the State or at least relocate them from areas in which they had been residing, particularly from areas comprising the majority Buddhist population.The Rohingya humanitarian crisis highlights the sheer failure on behalf of the government and the global community at large to make concerted efforts to save generations of human beings from being denied their basic rights, and in order to enable them to live with dignity.
RoomanaHukil&NayantaraShaunik, Rudderless and Drowning in Tears: The Rohingyas of Myanmar, http://www.ipcs.org/issue-brief/southeast-asia/rudderless-drowning-in-tears-the-rohingyas-of-myanmar-222.html.
Myanmar Government greed to blame for Rohingya fate, http://www.networkmyanmar.org/index.php/rohingyamuslim-issues/events-during-2015.
‘The Great Debate: Why is no one helping Myanmar’s Rohingya?’http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/06/17/why-is-no-one-helping-myanmars-rohingya/.
DolaMitra, A Name with No Place, http://mcomments.outlookindia.com/story.aspx?sid=4&aid=294780.
‘The Roots of ReligiousConflict in Myanmar – Understanding narratives is an importantstep to ending violence’ http://www.burmalibrary.org/search.php?f0=1&q=all&sstr=persecution&v=0.
‘Burma doesn’t want the Rohingya but insists on keeping them’ http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/06/burma-rohingya-migration-ban/395729/.
‘Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes: A tool for Prevention’ http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/pdf/framework%20of%20analysis%20for%20atrocity%20crimes_en.pdf.
‘Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims’https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/22/burma-end-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-muslims.
All You Can Do Is Pray: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State, https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/04/22/all-you-can-do-pray/crimes-against-humanity-and-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-muslims.