From Encounter to Exodus: Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar

Written by Kassandra Neranjan and Sakshi Shetty

According to the United Nations, the Rohingya are amongst the most persecuted minorities in the world. The Rohingya Muslims of Burma have been victim to ethnic cleansing and genocide for decades. Although Islam is practiced by four per cent of Myanmar’s population (most of these Muslims identify as Rohingya), the Rohingya Muslims have been deprived of citizenship rights and are denied recognition as a ‘national race’ based on their alleged “immigrant status”. The institutional and systematic discrimination of this population has raised concerns of how to best provide aid to this group. We intend to dig deeper and explore the intricacies of the complex history of this population, and trials that have arisen due to state prejudice. This essay analyzes this political puzzle through examining themes of Western intervention in Burma, processes of democratization, isolationist state practices of Burma, global norms and anti-norms of Islamophobia, and the capitalistic efforts to open Burma’s doors to trade regardless of human rights abuses.

The narrative of the Rohingya muslims of Myanmar is a story about politics, power, and ethnic discrimination. While humanitarian organisations and Western nations see the Rohingya muslims as the world’s most persecuted minority, the government of Myanmar and an overwhelming majority of its people see a foreign group with a separatist agenda, fueled by Islam, and funded from overseas. [1],[2] It is this difference in perception that makes finding a resolution for the Rohingya crisis an extremely difficult issue. In this essay, we hope to explore the various obstacles to aid provision for the Rohingya Muslims of Burma. In analysing this complex case of mass ethnic cleansing, we shine light upon themes such as Myanmar’s Isolationism and the motivation for some of its policies. Furthermore, in analysing normative international phenomena such as Islamophobia and Western intervention in Myanmar, this essay attempts to question the existing status quo and analyse the future of the state and specifically, the Rohingya Muslims.

The Rohingya peoples’ presence in Burma came to be due to a number of complex historical trajectories. A key part of the narrative spun by the military, ethnic extremists, and Buddhist fundamentalists amongst others is that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, and thus have no right to exist in Myanmar. In almost every Burmese media outlet and official issued statement by the government, the Rohingya are termed as illegal “Bengali” immigrants and never referred to as “Rohingya”.[3] The answer to how this situation came to be, and whether this assertion can be considered just, partly lies in the history of the Arakan region itself.

The Present till Now: A Brief History of Discrimination

Muslim traders first came into the Burmese region in the eighth century.[4] Their local dynasty was seated at Wesali, not far from contemporary Mrohaung in Arakan.. Due to the close proximity, Arakan saw a greater influx of Muslim sailors during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and migrants from neighboring Muslim Bengal. Looking back at that period in time, there are records of Buddhist Mrohaung kings using Muslim court titles alongside traditional ones. Indeed, it was a common practice to be inclusive of ethnic minorities and religious officers in courts in the Southeast Asian sub-region.[5]

The first recorded instance of Rohingya fleeing persecution occurred after the Burman King Bodawpaya conquered and incorporated the Arakan region into his kingdom of Ava in central Burma in 1784, consequently leading to a high influx of Rohingya refugees pouring into British controlled Chittagong in East Bengal.[6] After multiple insurgencies and failed attempts at recapturing Arakan back from King Bodawpaya in 1811, many Rohingyas were forced out of their homes, and thus settled in the area of Cox’s Bazar and became integrated within the local community there.[7]

Moving forward in time to the beginning of 1824, the British colonized Burma in a series of three wars. The British administered Burma as a province of India, resulting in much fluid migration. Though it was all considered internal movement then, as the region was one entity of the British Empire, the Burmese government still identifies any migration to and from Burma that took place during British rule as illegal.[8] It is on this basis that the Rohingya are denied citizenship and are considered illegal “Bengali” immigrants, despite their well-established presence dating back to the twelfth century.

After Japan’s invasion of British controlled Burma in 1942, communal violence erupted targeting those groups that had benefited from British colonial rule.[9] A common tactic by colonizers was to divide and conquer, and the application of such a strategy in Burma manifested in a way that provided Rohingya with several benefits including civil sector employment that many Buddhists were not afforded. This disparity in opportunity furthered tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majorities.[10] A violent clash between Buddhist villagers and Rohingya Muslims in Arakan during this period in time resulted in some 22,000 Rohingya crossing the border into Bengal.[11] Although some of the displaced Rohingya people returned after a British offensive drove out the Japanese in 1945, tensions between the Buddhist individuals and Rohingya Muslims lingered.  When forebears of the Rohingya appealed to Pakistan to annex their territory, which at the time included what is now Bangladesh, tensions worsened. Pakistan did not do so. Subsequently, many of the Muslims took up arms and fought a separatist rebellion until the 1960s, though vestiges of the rebellion continued until the 1990s. Immediately after independence, the conflict  escalated to the point where Burmese immigration authorities imposed limitations on movement of Muslims, treating them as illegal immigrants.[12] Since they were denied the right to citizenship, the Rohingya were also barred from military service and other civil jobs. To date, the Burmese government restricts Rohingya from traveling from Arakan, to other parts of the country, and abroad:

A valid permit allows a Rohingya to travel for up to forty-five days.[13] A copy must be submitted to authorities upon departure and arrival at the destination. Should a Rohingya wish to stay overnight in a village within the township, a similar permit must be procured and then presented to the headmen of the home village and the village visited. Heavy fines of up to 10,000 kyat (twenty-nine US dollars) and detention have been imposed on those violating the requirements.[14]

This set of stringent rules and regulations associated with travel have only exposed the Rohingya to further systemic exploitation by corrupt officials and impeded upon any universal right they are granted to mobility.[15] Furthermore, the Burmese government reserves secondary education only for citizens, leaving the Rohingya without access to state run schools beyond primary education. With little education and limited mobility, they are forced into labour by local government authorities with little to no pay, vulnerable to extortion and theft.[16] For instance, the army can arbitrarily confiscate personal property of the Rohingya.[17] The Rohingya have faced brutal torture, and inhumane treatment from their own government and military officials. These acts rooted in impunity serve to strip the Rohingya away from everything they own, leaving them helpless and vulnerable to further abuse.

In 1977, Operation Nagamin was put into place: a military operation attempting to register citizens and expel any foreigners prior to a national census, from which the Rohingya were excluded. Mass arrests, forced evictions, torture, and widespread military brutality in the following year caused more than 200,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, only to be sent back after the Bangladeshi government requested repatriation.[18] The greatest outflow of Rohingya people from Arakan into Bangladesh occured in 1991 and 1992, leaving approximately 250,000 Rohingya refugees displaced.[19] Forced labour, limited mobility, rape, and religious persecution at the hands of the Burmese army and Burmese nationalists left the Rohingya no other option but to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. It is crucial to note that these instances of racist eviction and cruelty derive from colonial histories and the consequent ethnocentrism that has allowed for such disdain between populations. One may argue that instances of ethnic divide were apparent prior to British rule, but the core premise of the systematization of discrimination through resource allocation via job opportunities and other limited resources codified racism through colonial laws and practices. The ramifications of these policies in Burmese society have allowed for the discrimination of Rohingya to seep into the twenty-first century.

Over the past year, military operations against the Rohingya have become so intense and cruel that some have characterized the crisis a genocide. Yet, this crisis still receives little acknowledgment by state officials. When asked about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Burma, Burma’s State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi denied any such claims. She too, like the military, identifies the Rohingya as illegal immigrants propagating terrorism in the Arakan region.[20]  The politics of these opinions will be analyzed in later portions of this essay.

In response to the centuries of discrimination and violence the Rohingya have faced, some Rohingya groups have turned to violent resistance. Local Rohingya insurgent groups have existed for decades, fighting for their rights and protecting their people with limited resources. They often use home-made weapons such as sharpened bamboo sticks, machetes, and knives.[21] The worst of this violence erupted in 2012 following the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by Muslim men. Mass religious violence and state riots erupted against the Rohingya, forcing 140,000 of them into camps in Rakhine for internally displaced people. But in 2013, their resistance created the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). ARSA is active in the Northern Rakhine state and is declared as a terrorist group by the Central Committee for Counter-Terrorism of Myanmar.[22] On August 25th, 2017, about 200 Rohingya ARSA militants attacked a police post, killing nine border officers and four soldiers. Since then, a military crackdown has caused almost 800,000 Rohingyas to flee from Myanmar into under-developed and overpopulated refugee camps into Bangladesh.[23] Although there is no firm evidence to validate this claim, the Burmese government continuously alleges that ARSA is involved with and subsidized by foreign Islamists. This claim was refuted by Ata Ullah, the current leader of ARSA. Time and again they reinstate their ideology of ethno-nationalism and deny being a jihadist group. The capabilities of ARSA however, do not compare to that of the Burmese military. On September 10, 2017, Amnesty International and Bangladeshi government sources accused Burmese authorities of laying landmines at border crossings used by fleeing Rohingya. [24] [25]   Thus, the Rohingya continue to fight for their rights in a manner that is outside of legal proceedings, due to their inability to be represented by the law. This poses a critical need for governmental representation of a marginalized group that has been systematically denied of their fundamental human rights.

With the Rohingya people living in such dire conditions, a health crisis is also underway. And with their own government ostracizing them, turning to international aid organizations appears to be their only option. While Myanmar’s consistent rejection of international assistance makes it harder for aid organizations to interact with this population, concerns about the best forms of aid provision have emerged in the past decade.

In the international community the Rohingyas are seen as innocent people who are uniquely abused. And, of course, it’s true they are largely innocent and uniquely abused as presented throughout the course of this text. But to people in Myanmar, the name suggests something much more. The people of Myanmar fear that a Rohingya autonomous area along the border with Bangladesh would come at the expense of Rakhine territory, and maybe at the expense of Bangladesh as a whole. This deeply felt fear comes from a real place and is rooted in Burma’s history. In breaking down this complex history, Myanmar’s actions can be better understood, and the international community can work towards more appropriate resolutions. 

Burma in Isolation: State Policy

 “Burma was the quintessential neutralist nation” says David Steinberg[26]. After studying the complex interactions and political manifestations that have been taking place between states on the world stage, he argues how Burma’s actions, in the past two decades, point more towards isolationism than taking a neutralist stance.[27] Steinberg’s claim refers to multiple actions taken  by Burma to maintain this neutralist stance. For instance, to ensure its sovereign autonomy, Burma forfeited its Commonwealth membership in 1948, after gaining independence from the British.[28] During this time, Burma sustained cordial relations with its Western counterparts, China and Russia. It also received considerable foreign aid, partly designed to win friends, and from an American vantage point to deny Communist China and the Soviet Union a foothold in Southeast Asia. Although Burma and China enjoyed good relations on the whole, one major exception came during China’s cultural revolution, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops fled to Burma after the People’s Liberation Army infiltrated the Yunnan Province.[29]  Plagued by two communist insurrections as well as major ethnic revolts causing an internal civil war, the fledgling Burmese nation struggled to keep its balance between survival and political stability. Surreptitiously backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the incursion of Chinese Nationalist forces in northeastern Burma brought about the banning of all US aid programs in Burma.[30] Steinberg states how following the coup of 1962, Burma’s isolationism slowly became more evident: “The Burmese felt insecure. They believed foreigners were unsympathetic and their views antithetical to the foils of the society, which were both Buddhist and socialist and therefore outside of the Western mainstream”.[31]Within a year of the coup, the government drastically restricted international and domestic travel. Gradually, Burma was cut off from the outside world as most media outlets were managed by the state; only to be slipped off the news radar screen.[32]This act of denying aid and restricting mobility still reflects existing sentiments in the Burmese political system and also the lack of attention the Rohingya Muslims have received. This is crucial to understanding the isolation faced by the Rohingya population in Myanmar as they are unable to receive representation by their own government, and consequently face several barriers in receiving recognition or support from the international community.

Soon after independence, Burma had an ongoing civil war. The root of that conflict is best explained in Martin Smith’s words as a “dilemma of unity in a land of diversity.”[33] This refers to the backlash the Burmese government faced from its ethnic minorities. As Burma became more isolated from the outside world, the ethnic minorities in the “Frontier Areas” came in closer contact with the outside world. The majority Burmese were located well within state boundaries, but Chin, Kachin, Shan, Karen, and Mon peoples all had relatives across the arbitrary boundaries of Burma.[34] The Rohingya Muslims resided in the northern Arakan region of Burma, which borders Bangladesh.[35] Furthermore, some Christian minorities were also in touch with international Christian movements. All these factors of geographical and social isolation came into play, creating a sense of conflict. The impending threat against the Burmese military, by both minorities and foreigners, soon became a central concern for the government.

Burma’s civil conflicts alongside their perceptions within international relations have further determined the rigidity and application of the state’s isolationist policies. The 1988 uprising was a specific turning point for Burma’s political position, another step closer to becoming a strict isolationist state. The massacre of thousands of protesters followed by the nullification of the election result were instances that stood in stark contrast to America’s fundamental diplomatic goals of democracy and human rights.[36]  Thus, downgrading the US representative in Burma from “ambassador” to “charge d’affaires” was an occurrence that only made the Burmese-US diplomatic fallout more evident.[37] The troubles in this relationship were exacerbated by the imposition of a broad range of sanctions by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, respectively.[38] It can be said that through these sanctions, the US government intended to pressure Burma to follow the path to democratisation.[39] A former Burmese foreign minister chastised this Western approach, saying that Myanmar was not a donkey, and that a “carrots and sticks” approach to relations was not appropriate.[40] Some argue that these sanctions have not only failed, but are indeed counterproductive as they have largely neglected the country’s multiple ethnic and armed conflicts as well as its pressing humanitarian challenges.[41] According to Thant Myint-U, sanctions first weakened the very forces that supported the democratic reforms “reinforcing isolationist tendencies, constraining moves toward market reforms, and decimating the position of the Burmese professional, managerial, and entrepreneurial classes. Sanctions and related divestment campaigns, and campaigns to minimize tourism, have drastically reduced chances for the emergence of new and outward-looking economic forces.”[42] Second, the sanctions strengthened the military forces. He pointed out that “The political economy, which has emerged under sanctions, based on a few extractive industries and trade ties with a handful of regional countries, has proven particularly easy for the incumbent regime to control. Aid restrictions, restrictions on high level contact and travel by senior Burmese officials, and embargoes on trade and investment all had the direct, if unintended, consequence of reinforcing the status quo.”[43] Upholding of the status quo consequently engaged in isolationist policy so as to strategize how the state could exist under this existing status quo. It is ultimately evident that Western intervention has furthered a need for Myanmar state officials to view such intervening as harmful, and thus adopt policies of isolationism that have only served to isolate the Rohingya from any external assistance.

This policy of isolationism and its ramifications for its citizens and those that live within state borders can be addressed through the constrained policy choices the Burmese state was forced to take as a result of the actions of the international community. Within international relations, as a policy, sanctions mean tightening the policy choices of the government being sanctioned, to the point where there is no other option for the government except surrendering or impoverishing the people of the nation to that degree that there is no other choice but to overthrow the present government.[44] To achieve this policy objective, all other states must impose strict sanctions against the targeted state. Furthermore, the targeted state must have very few resources. In the case of Burma, neither of these prerequisites apply.[45] Firstly, Myanmar has abundant natural resources such as oil, gas, and jade. Secondly, Burma’s neighbouring states, such as China, India, and other ASEAN countries have not imposed sanctions on Burma. In fact, having previously vacillated between friendships with US and China, the tense relations with America provided an opportunity for Burma to form closer ties with China. China thus became the prime source of support and protection in the international community.[46] Burma being a nation rich in natural resources like timber, oil, and precious gems, it opened a new possibility for bilateral trade between Burma and China. Soon after that, China became Burma’s major supplier for military equipment and training.[47] Thus, Burma’s foreign trade not only flourished during the years of US sanctions, but also worked to increase the metaphorical distance in the US-Burma relations.[48]

With Burma pursuing goals similar to that of an isolationist state, it was evident that the nation’s ongoing ethnic crisis only worsened over time through restricting any information dissemination of the current state of affairs within Myanmar to the outside international community. Although many may push this label of ethnic crisis, especially after Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power, the intricacies of the Rohingya Muslims’ plight only reinforces Burma’s rejection to Western intervention. In March 2017, the UN Human Rights Council decided to launch a review into the allegations and reports of abuses of the Rohingya Muslims in areas of Rakhine.[49] This US endorsed EU probe was immediately rejected by Suu Kyi, saying it would “divide communities in the troubled western state of Rakhine.”[50] During the military regime, the censor had control over all media outlets.[51] It filtered almost all important information in the media regardless of whether it was true or not, as long as the information supported the military leadership, it was circulated and advertised. However, since the new government took power in 2011 and the censorship board was then abolished, the media landscape has been substantially transformed.[52]  All of this is irrelevant when it comes to reporting the mass genocidal activities taking place in Burma. Leaders and news outlets still disseminate retrograde-sounding opinions and sometimes outright denial of any claims of such atrocities.[53] Furthermore, a commission appointed by Suu Kyi concluded that “there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution in the region”, despite there being significant evidence of the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims.[54]  In an effort to muzzle reporting, Myanmar’s government has barred independent journalists from the region, and dismissed reports of abuses of power as “fake news”.[55] To go one step further, Suu Kyi’s office emblazoned the words “Fake Rape” on its website to discredit reports that troops had committed sexual violence.[56] These anecdotes and systems of censorship and knowledge dissemination suppression further enforce the isolationism Myanmar adopts for its political survival, with the consequences being felt by the Rohingya population who are thus unacknowledged by their own government.

This isolationism affecting the Rohingya Muslim population can be exemplified by the restrictions of international aid the community has faced. If the human rights abuses are as ‘non-existent’ as the Burmese government claims, then there would be no need to provide aid. Thus, preventing international aid from entering Burma becomes legitimized. Up until February 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had six primary care clinics, 20 malaria clinics, and three HIV/AIDS clinics in Rakhine State, until they were ordered by the government to suspend all activities.[57] This left a large health-care void for those Rohingya dependent on MSF as their sole provider for health care. Only after nine months of suspension, MSF was allowed to return to Rakhine State.[58] A presidential spokesman from Burma, Ye Htut told a local newspaper that MSF’s contract would not be extended any further as it hired “Bengalis” and because it lacked transparency in its work.[59] This nine-month suspension of MSF is one of many examples of the Burmese government restricting aid for the Rohingya, showcasing an attitude of isolationism that prevents other nations from intervening.

Myanmar’s closed-door policy also makes it difficult to get a complete understanding of the present crisis. This has several subsequent ramifications. There is a lack of summative data about the Rohingya population in any stream of academic literature. Assessments of health, nutrition, and human security provide insight into the needs of vulnerable populations. It is extremely difficult to collect data about the Rohingya because the Myanmar Government does not recognize the Rohingya as a distinct and legitimate group, let alone as citizens. With the lack of recognition and acknowledgment of this issue, it serves to completely neglect the plight of Rohingya Muslims. Moreover, government-induced restrictions on aid and a lack of data makes it difficult for aid organizations to reach their target audience. These acts tie together to further deteriorate the conditions of the Rohingya, while providing an image of an unfavourable future for this ostracized population.

A Fatal Myth: Democratisation as Remedy

Throughout history, democracy has been viewed as the ultimate form of government that allows a nation to reflect its values in its power to choose leaders whose visions align with such values. that allows a nation to elect its state representatives. Although in theory the system when applied to a population and its members equally sounds robust in attaining fair representation, Theoretically, democracy should give equal and fair representation to every citizen in a democratic nation. However, when imposed upon another nation, this is not always the case. This is seen with Myanmar. This portion of the essay will analyze Western responses to various affairs in Myanmar and how this has ultimately affected the Rohingya Muslim population. We will do so by addressing the West’s idolization of Aung San Suu Kyi, Western paternalism, and the failings of what may appear as Western altruism rooted, in fact, in self-interest.

Nearing the end of the Cold War, Western intervention in Burma became central to the West’s propagation of democracy. Burma and the West had fairly distant relations until the marked uprisings and riots that emerged on August 8, 1988, upsetting the West’s understandings of Burma’s political strife.[60] Following atrocities that left civilians injured and dead at the hands of military forces, Burma clashed with the idyllic international relations the democratic West strove to achieve.[61] The United States specifically, spearheaded sanctions against Myanmar to encourage a process of democratization to ensue.[62] This however, did not gain traction in its early stages. Particularly, in 1990 Myanmar held its first elections, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won eighty percent of seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw[63].  The military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), however, would not cede power.[64] With the rise of militaristic authoritarianism, and growing adoration of Aung San Suu Kyi—leader of the NLD, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and political prisoner— the West began to view Burma’s politics as a “one-dimensional” issue.[65] This one dimension was thus thought to be absolved with a symmetrical one dimensional solution: democracy. This perception can be viewed as paternalistic and dismissive of human rights abuses in Myanmar. In pursuing democracy, the West’s backing of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD overlooked Azeez Ibrahims affirmation that in these elections both the SLORC and NLD were arguing for the expulsion of the Rohingya Muslims from the north of the Rakhine province.[66] In working to achieve democracy, the West indirectly condoned the racist views both parties carried and, in doing so, allowed for the rights of an ethnic minority to remain unaddressed, further imperilling the Rohingya to genocide. This mindset is very much embodied by Senator Mitch McConnell’s statements of Suu Kyi as follows:

“She could have chosen the route of Gandhi and just been an icon…Instead she chose the route of Margaret Thatcher by accepting responsibility by bringing along a country that was essentially in the dark ages”[67]

Mitch McConnell’s opinions, representative of the overarching American congressional view of Burma at the time, shows that the South Asian figurehead of Mohandas Gandhi is an inadequate figurehead of peace, attributing a lack of action towards an individual many deem a hero[68]. Instead, McConnell draws a distinction between a leader many determined to be the impetus of India’s independence to a Western leader. Margaret Thatcher has a notorious history for being on what many would argue as the wrong side of history when speaking to issues of race – especially considering her involvement in pro-South African stances during its era of apartheid[69]. Yet, McConnell sees her as a stronger leader, which might be rooted in Eurocentric understandings of leadership and further emphasizes the simplistic notion with which American officials analysed Burmese politics at the time. Furthermore, this description of a country in the “dark ages” may denote an ingrained mindset of civilizational standards that is held against countries in the Global South deemed primitive and ‘backwards.’ These perceptions date back to colonial understandings of non-European races and cultures, and as Rudyard Kipling explains, creates a ‘White Man’s Burden’ in the attempt to civilize.[70] In the West, civilization is suggested to take the route of democracy. Kirsten Haack addresses this notion by addressing the agenda of the United Nations. By analyzing a body of governance developed as a response to war, one can determine that the United Nations is deemed a solution that was created primarily by the West. Haack outlines that the key vision for the United Nations was democracy through civilization, elections, governance, and developmental democracy.[71] When combining these ideals with the thesis stated within this argument, one can draw the conclusion that democracy is viewed as essential to the functioning of a state, but more so that this American construct is very much tied with ideas of civilized states, and that those that are not civilized require the development of a democracy. In the Burmese context we see that this is the basis for the idyllic representation of Aung San Suu Kyi as she is an active proponent for democracy. This essay will argue however, that this effort to instate democracy does more harm than good, thus showcasing the marginalization of the Rohingya is in part due to Western interventionism. One may argue that human rights is a Western norm championed across the world, but the West’s ideational commitment to democracy overshadowed the possibility of considering this crucial consideration  to Burmese politics.[72] Assuming democracy allows the propagation and development of human rights in the future, this may diminish the value of lives in the Global South as simply ‘part of the process.’ This can be attributed to the atmosphere of islamophobia, and orientalist perspectives that disregard the rights and freedoms of those who do not live in the West, as can be analysed above by Senator McConnell’s commentary.[73] As a consequence of this mode of thinking, Burma today is the only country where the UN’s priority is attaining democracy, and thus, receives less international assistance than any other least developed country.[74] Ultimately, the West’s complicity in exacerbating the persecuted condition of the Rohingya peoples lies in its inability to gauge Western society’s altruism in the case of Burma. 

While Western intervention in Burma exists, the aid may be insufficient, endangering the lives of countless Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar. During the Obama administration, with Secretary Clinton leading the agenda for Foreign Affairs, the country was promised reduced sanctions conditional upon the follow-through of democratisation of the state.[75] With the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party into the political sphere, this slowly became a reality. There still exists tensions between the military and the ability to govern, but many of the sanctions imposed on Burma have been reduced.[76] As of 2015, the United States officially recognizes the injustices the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar have faced.[77] This action, after centuries of conflict, is core to advancing human rights in the region. However, the only follow-up came through one specific sanction restricting arms trades with Burmese military forces.[78] In contrast to the various sanctions placed upon the military dictatorship that ruled Burma for decades when the setting was conducive to American politics to promulgate ideologies of democracy and freedom, the action depicts an inequitable distribution of effort? of action. These choices suggest America’s commitment to democracy can be understood to be dependent upon its expected gain in the American value dissemination in Burma – whether or not it actually helped minorities as they so believed it would.

With these perspectives in mind, however, addressing the rights of the Rohingya Muslims does not simply categorize itself within the confines of Western altruism. Burma has been subject to economic sanctions since the 1970s and 80s, especially after 1988 as previously mentioned.[79] Transnational boycotts were enacted against large corporations such as Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL), an American organization that had a partnership with the Burmese military regime and used forced labourers to enact their work.[80] John G. Dale argues in his work Free Burma that the political consumer is capable of shedding light on issues of unethical consumerism through articulating claims clearly and with a specific point and call to action[81]. Furthermore, these messages gain traction when there is a collective trans local identity acting against a transnational corporation. These protests against UNOCAL occurred in Massachusetts showcasing a trans local attempt at solidarity. A few months after these protests, the US Congress authorized the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 imposing sanctions on Burma “until such time as the President determines and certifies to Congress that Burma has made measurable and substantial progress in improving human rights practices and implementing democratic government.”[82] This law called for the president to develop a “multilateral strategy”—calling for cooperation of members of ASEAN and Burma’s other major trading partners in the region to hopefully ensure an improved state of democracy.[83] Famously in 1993, Aung San Suu Kyi herself stated:

In Burma today [,] our real malady is not economic but political… Until we have a system that guarantees rule of law and basic democratic institutions, no amount of aid or investment will benefit our people. Profits from our business enterprises will merely go towards enriching a small, already very privileged elite. Companies [that trade in Burma] only serve to prolong the agony of my country by encouraging the present military regime to persevere in its intransigence.[84]

With this in mind, Western governments ensured that corporations attempted to mitigate the exploitation of Burmese citizens’ rights. The role of sanctions was to ensure that democracy could be laid as a foundation prior to capitalist ventures undermining the ability for human rights to establish themselves in the state.

When examining these sanctions, however, there is an opportunity cost for American corporations to profit from cheap and forced labour. Under the Obama administration, sanctions were reduced against Burma, so long as promises of democratisation were achieved.[85] Recognition of abuses against the Rohingya have been made, but sanctions to ensure the human rights of this group have not been pursued. This poses a key question – why did this corporate loophole emerge whereby human rights are at risk but companies are allowed to profit from them? For example, Japan was a former imperial power over Burma, but imposed various sanctions in conjunction with the United States in a display of partnership. Now, however, with the ostensible rise in democratisation in the state, Japan has dramatically increased its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the country[86]. These ties have slowly allowed for Japan to gain access to Burma’s markets but also their raw materials and the ability to compete with “an economically expansive China[87].” Furthermore, this splicing of Burmese markets will only further exacerbate ethnic conflicts in the region.[88]

There is more at play in the politics of addressing the ethnic conflict in Burma than what meets the eye. Sanctions may be removed for democratisation, but unless this is fully fledged and consistent with protecting the rights of the marginalised Rohingya Muslims in the state, there is no guarantee for an improvement in the situation.

Muslims on the Margins: A Global Culture of Islamophobia

The roots of a clash of civilisations can also be traced to a culture of Islamophobia that may be present in Western nations today.[89] For instance, President Donald Trump’s has repeatedly attempted to enact travel bans barring Muslims in Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for fear of terrorism. This is indicative of the nature of Islamophobia taking root in international relations. The stigmatizing notion that Islam is monolithic in representing a population of extremist radicals challenges the ability to create empathy for any Muslim population—including the Rohingya. This is crucial to determining that aid cannot be provided when there is not enough public outcry to validate or catalyse aid provision.[90]

This was continued during the Obama Administration. Although it is often cited that Obama inherited the previous administration’s inadequate policies with regards to the Middle East and Asia, Bush was responsible for 42 predator drone strikes while Obama initiated over 300 in the region.[91] Although the Bush administration very much destabilized the region and caused many of the disturbances in the Middle East, the Obama administration has done little to quell these tensions. In fact, Rubin claims that Obama’s policies in the Middle East ultimately have redefined politics in the region from being rooted in ‘Arab Nationalism’, which has been its framing since the 1950s, to a new conception of roots in Islam and fundamentalism.[92] Finally, George W. Bush allowed for a large misperception of Islam which contributed to the marginalization of Muslim people in America. Kumar argues that since the events of 9/11, the range of debate on issues pertaining to Muslims or Islam has narrowed to a point where “Orientalist modes of thought” are dominant once again.[93] The “Clash of Civilizations” thesis disdained by the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations, was adopted by George W. Bush’s government which journalists reported upon with a tone of a political climate of fear. This portrayal of Muslims acquired the status of “common sense,” framing the lives of Muslims across the world normatively.[94] In combining terrorism and Islam, the past three American governmental administrations have contributed to the normalisation of dehumanising Muslims. Ultimately, these policies have shaped the lens through which Muslims are viewed and thus undermine the role they can play in norm dissemination for the human rights of Rohingya peoples. This trivializes the creation of solidarity, which in turns questions the impetus for action to follow to ensure aid provision for the Rohingya. This again is a reframing of Islam as the ultimate enemy, clashing against democratic Western ideals. This consequently hurts the Rohingya by lessening the opportunity to garner compassion and Western altruism, if they are deemed part of a primitive group not worth assisting. As a Muslim minority, the Rohingya are hurt not only because of the racial prejudice they face as “Bengalis” in that they are referred to as non-natives to Burma, but that they are also of a minority religious background. They are both minorities in Burma, and also the global stage, where Islam – through these continuously imperialistic means of framing minorities – is still very much misunderstood and so, Muslims continue to be misunderstood too. If a population is misunderstood and deemed to be a threat or ‘the Other’, it is difficult to engender compassion without striking fear or prejudice as well. In the context of aid, where funding often relies on the compassion of Western masses to donate, the Rohingya are at odds with the ability to foster empathy for their plight, because of their identity.

It is also further important to note the modern lens through which the Rohingya Muslims are viewed. Al Jazeera’s extensive journalism in the region has found numerous examples of cultural and physical genocide against the Rohingya enacted on behalf of the Burmese government. The 1982 Citizenship Act that prevented Rohingya Muslims from attaining citizenship on the basis of identifying them as of Bengali ethnicities had far reaching effects on their integration and participation into society and into government structures and institutions; they effectively became a stateless population, with limited and differentiated access to healthcare, education and other social services[95]. Without citizenship came obstacles to attaining work, food rations, access to the legal system and government services. Further restrictions were implemented to discourage the growth of the Rohingya population by adding taxation measures for foundational social practices, including taxes for marriages and taxes for each child born into a family[96]. An investigation by Al Jazeera also uncovered secret memoranda passed within government that explicitly stated intent to diminish and bar the growth of the Rohingya peoples[97]. These institutional acts have taken place alongside years of physical violence and destruction. This includes the case of the 2012 uprisings where the Na Sa Ka (or military forces) were allegedly responsible for the burning and destruction of Rohingya homes, and the rape and murder of Rohingya Muslims peoples. The riots displaced thousands and allowed the government the means to restrict the mobility rights of many Rohingya by placing them in makeshift refugee camps. Furthermore, one can compare the acts taking place in Burma with already existing international law surrounding genocide.

The Rome Statute and the Genocide Convention outline that genocide is:

any of [these]… acts committed with intent to destroy… a … group…:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group[98]

Considering the circumstances outlined above, the killing of the members of this ethno-religious group, the trauma caused by sexual violence and forcible displacement, the governmental action that made it extraneous to grow the population, and further action are all indicative of genocide. These acts highlight several problems –  mainly that there is evidence of state-sponsored genocide and that nothing is being done to fix it.

  • When addressing global Islamophobia it is important to note that Burmese nationalism that evokes hatred against the Rohingya Muslims has Islamophobia at its core. Peter Coclanis writes that in all of Burma’s independence struggle, there was a strong sentiment of Buddhist promulgation that came with it, especially in seeking independence from the British[99]. Furthermore, in the era of anti-government uprisings in the 1980s in Burma, much of the protests included what Coclanis calls a “Buddhist renewal movement” that combined “Buddhist religious fanaticism with intense Burmese nationalism and more than a tinge of ethnic chauvinism.[100]” The antagonisms between Muslims and Buddhists is not simply a military-Rohingya, state-Rohingya, or international relations-Rohingya issue. It is a civil Burmese society-Rohingya issue as well. With no support internally due to the religion of the Rohingya, Islamophobia has been pertinent to their disappearing from Burmese society.[101]
  • Burma has enjoyed the support of the West for decades, but this has never helped the Rohingya Muslims. With Aung San Suu Kyi now at the helm of government, this complicates the attempt to address the human rights abuses in the country when a seeming champion of human rights denies the injustices the Rohingya have faced. This is ironic, but to assume that Aung San Suu Kyi is not willingly complicit in the genocide of a minority Muslim population is dismissive of the history of Burmese politics and her role within them. It is arguably ignorant to assume that because an individual shares the title of Burmese in the international community, that they will thus share that title internally is dismissive of ethnic tensions in the region. The Rohingya Muslims for centuries have existed on Burmese land, prior to British colonisation, but have repeatedly been labelled Bengali.[102] They have been victim to decades and centuries of attempts to be forcibly removed from society and the state as a whole.[103] The lens of modernity, that assumes a leader believing in democracy to spearhead government will thus result in the inclusion of Rohingya human rights showcases a structural dismissal of Islamophobia and other factors addressed in this essay.

Institutional Failures and Counter Revolution: What Next for the Rohingya?

After post-Holocaust calls of ‘never again’ were enshrined by the Genocide Convention of 1948, international law failed to prevent the horrific act in several circumstances. This is evident after the Rwandan genocide and after the massacres at Srebrenica.[104] When legality came at odds with the politics of the international system, countless lives were lost. More importantly, these lives were already marginalized and not paid heed to on the international stage to begin with. The ongoing case of the persecution of the Rohingya population in Burma is a very real and current example of the failure of international legislation to protect vulnerable populations. It can be suggested that the modernist and Orientalist views of claiming these populations as “Other” to the West have perilous ramifications throughout history. In drawing these distinctions between the ‘West’ and the ‘Rest’, it is important to distinguish that the international system is failing. Ultimately, some populations have been deemed worthier than others in the Western public sphere of assistance. It is seen again and again that people of colour and Muslims, as evidenced in the case of Rwanda, Bosnia and now Burma, are dismissed and not worthy of timely aid.[105] This has direct links to the culture of Islamophobia developed for the past few decades as mentioned earlier in this essay.

The dismissal of the Rohingya Muslims within the sphere of Western aid and politics can be proven when compared to the case study of the Free Tibet Movement. Stephen Noakes argues that norms “provide a principled basis for advocacy network formation, aiding in the creation of identities and preferences” core to transnational advocacy.[106] He goes on to determine that “to the extent … networks manage to sustain themselves and … influence national priorities, the normative commitments underpinning their formation and mobilization are treated as fairly static.”[107] If norms are core to the ability to advocate for people, and a norm of Islamophobia has been static within Western society for decades, it can be argued that it is difficult for Westerns to feel sympathy this group. In the case of Tibet, there is a global network of some 170 organizations providing financial and diplomatic resources to further the cause of independence[108]. More importantly however, the stateless Tibetan people had the support of the American Whitehouse at the time:

“Beginning in the 1980s, an effort to raise the profile of the Tibet issue in congress and the White House was taken up by the prominent DC law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, which was registered with the US Department of Justice in 1985 as an agent of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Its message found particular resonance with members of the house of representatives, who, already upset with China over a host of other matters ranging from trade to arms sales, voted in June 1987 to approve an amendment to the foreign relations authorization act specifically denouncing what it called human rights violations in Tibet and the illegal occupation of the region by the Chinese”[109]

With the common enemy of the Chinese, the US had strategic and ideological agendas aligned with the desire to assist the Tibetan people. The Rohingya Muslims do not have a common enemy to share with America. If anything, Aung San Suu Kyi was a proud ally of the United States for decades. Furthermore, the Rohingya are a Muslim population. They do not hold any power on the world stage as a result of their identity. Noakes argues that these early successes of US support, alongside other large parties including the British and Russians, are what allowed the Free Tibet Movement such momentum[110]. The Rohingya lack this expediency or transnational advocacy due to their existence as stateless Muslim peoples – ultimately holding back the ability to assist.

As of September 2017, several violent uprisings have come to the attention of the  global media, shining a spotlight on Rakhine State. Sparked by military attacks against the Rohingya minority in remote villages, pleas for help have begun to be recognized. The difference at this moment, however, in Western recognition of the atrocities occurring in Burma, are not a direct result of the magnitude and livid horrors of actions that have ensued, but rather because they have occurred under the watch of Aung San Suu Kyi.[111] The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is facing condemnation for her ignorance towards the actions of the Buddhist majority and her continued assertions that there is fear on both sides.[112] In an interview in 2016 that is gaining traction in media today, Suu Kyi asserts that she will not speak against the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya population because she alleges there is not enough violence enacted against them.[113] Sources such as The Guardian, the New York Times, and politically satirical television shows such as the Daily Show with Trevor Noah have all addressed the recent escalation in violence in relation to Aung San Suu Kyi and thus question not the illegitimacy of the human rights violations, but their illegitimacy under the watchful eye of a Nobel peace prize laureate.[114]

Distinct within this situation, are the analyses drawn in relation to President Donald J Trump of the United States of America. The left wing of the political spectrum has been of late under stressful circumstances due to a communal disbelief of the leader’s policies and subsequent repercussions worldwide. Social movements have emerged to challenge Trump’s views and political assertions, through the Women’s March, the March for Science, protests against anti-immigration reform, and solidarity amongst Black Lives Matter groups, marginalized and racialized groups.[115] Pride marches have shown more political backing due to the circumstances regarding the vulnerability of queer populations under a Trump administration.[116] It is in this regard, that the left is beginning to step forward and address injustices that are occurring worldwide, with a stark distaste for anything remotely reminiscent of Donald Trump.

Although there are movements promulgating views of Islamophobia, for example by the Neo Nazi march in Charlottesville, there are similar movements attempting to promote a counter perspective. During the Miss America Pageant for 2017, a nationwide broadcasted event with millions watching, Ms. Texas asserted in relation to right-wing violent protests that President Trump’s inability to address domestic terrorism was wrong and that the fault being on the side of white supremacists was “obvious.”[117] With these clashes of political viewpoints and leanings at play, there is understanding that a social wave of altruism is possible to emerge as well. Finnemore and Sikkink argue that norm entrepreneurs are responsible for disseminating an idea to be a standard of expected behaviour.[118] Once this idea has achieved a critical mass of followers—whether this be in numbers or the power of the few who follow who are considered to be global leaders—this  norm reaches a norm cascade becoming an ingrained standard that slowly comes to be taken for granted.[119] Anti-islamophobia views stand is questionable in terms of this process. However, it is crucial to discern that hope for the Rohingya is not lost. Aung San Suu Kyi, having been analysed in comparison to President Trump in her belief that there is fear on both sides of the physical violence occurring in her country—even though it is proven that the Muslim minority has faced a much larger extent of persecution in terms of physical, sexual, and psychological harm[120] —proves to be a target of disdain by the left. As a very politically mobile group, this indicates that there is political consciousness among the left surrounding the human rights violations of the Rohingya. Since Aung San Suu Kyi is now questioned as categorically similar to Trump, anti-Trump sentiment can potentially be used to mobilise pro-Rohingya rights movements and attitudes. Anti-trump views allow for a lens to analyse global affairs, working to effectively explore the issue of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Drawing these parallels is crucial to understanding that there is the possibility of global norm shaping processes to ensue. This would allow the protection of the rights of the Rohingya Muslims through current reactions to the climate of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and alt-right messaging.

In order for the Rohingya crisis to be addressed and resolved, institutional action is required. Time and again, from Rwanda to Srebrenica to Venezuela, the bureaucratic nature of international political agenda-setting intertwined with capitalist gain has allowed for the loss of life in exorbitant numbers. Genocide continues to be committed against those in the world with the least political representation, while those with the most remain idle. Systems such as the United Nations were created for purposes such as these, but their lack of democracy within the decision-making process, and ability to act promptly within emergencies has served as the organization’s downfall.

In the present situation, recognition is key. Western media has begun to recognize the Rohingya crisis as an ethnic cleansing, although this essay goes on to use stronger language of genocide.[121] It is crucial that Aung San Suu Kyi admit to this circumstance and allow for the United Nations to carry out probes, investigations, and further measures to ensure the protection of human rights in the region. This includes culturally relativistic data that analyses the state-sponsored oppression and violence enacted against the Rohingya and analysing further structural violence committed in terms of lack of mobility rights, or the ability to seek justice for crimes committed during the civil war.

The status quo has been upheld for far too long. To ensure that this crisis is ended and to prevent history from repeating itself, it is necessary that the focus of the human rights and collective rights of the Rohingya are recognized, protected, and fought for. Furthermore, these rights must be mobilized actively in contrast to the circumstances of Western sanctions being uplifted and the ability for corporations to further exacerbate the situation in the state. It is the continual dismissal of human value for those of broader institutions and organizations such as the state or corporations. In this quest, one often forgets that the thread that holds this fabric together is each individual human life. Without recognition for such lives, society cannot function. Thus, without the active recognition of the Rohingya Muslims’ rights, we as a global society cannot function.


Endnotes

[1] “Human Rights Council Opens Special Session on the Situation of Human Rights of the Rohingya and Other Minorities in Rakhine State in Myanmar.” OHCHR | Freedom of Religion: UN Expert Hails Albania, but Notes New Challenges and Unresolved Issues from the past. December 5, 2017. Accessed November 23, 2018. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22491&LangID=E.

[2] Cai, Derek, and Associated Press. “Aung San Suu Kyi Says Myanmar’s Campaign against Rohingya Muslims Was Triggered by Terrorism.” National Post. August 22, 2018. Accessed November 22, 2018. https://nationalpost.com/news/world/suu-kyi-says-timing-of-rohingya-return-depends-on-bangladesh

[3] Canadian House of Commons. Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Sentenced to a Slow Demise: The Plight of Myanmars Rohingya Minority: Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development / Hon. Robert D. Nault, Chair ; Subcommittee on International Human Rights ; Michael Levitt, Chair. By Michael Levitt and Robert Nault. Federal 42nd Parliament., 1st sess. H.

[4] “II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Historical Background. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm#P94_20222.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Harvey, G. E. History of Burma: from the earliest times to 10 March, 1824: the beginning of the English conquest (New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2000),

[7] Aung, Maung Htin. A history of Burma. New York …: Columbia U.P., 1967.

[8] “II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Historical Background. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm#P94_20222.

[9] Silverstein, Josef. Burmese politics: the dilemma of national unity. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1980.

[10] “II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Historical Background. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm#P94_20222.

[11] Yegar, Mosheh. The Muslims of Burma: a study of a minority group. Harrassowitz Verlag, 1972.

[12] “II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Historical Background. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm#P94_20222.

[13] Burma Act VII, Registration of Foreigners Act and Rules, 1940

[14] Burma Act VII, Registration of Foreigners Act and Rules, 1940

[15] Ibid.

[16] “III. DISCRIMINATION IN ARAKAN.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Discrimination in Arakan. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-02.htm#P156_46033.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Smith, Martin. Burma: insurgency and the politics of ethnicity. London: Zed, 1999.

[19] “II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.” Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese Refugees In Bangladesh – Historical Background. May 2000. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-01.htm#P94_20222.

[20] Krol, Nicola Smith; Charlotte. “Who are the Rohingya Muslims? The stateless minority fleeing violence in Burma.” The Telegraph. September 05, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/rohingya-muslims/.

[21] Edroos, Faisal. “ARSA: Who Are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?” Myanmar News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 13 Sept. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/myanmar-arakan-rohingya-salvation-army-170912060700394.html.

[22] “Order No. 1/2017.” The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Anti-terrorism Central Committee. August 25, 2017. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.statecounsellor.gov.mm/nrpcen/node/124.

[23] “Myanmar: What sparked latest violence in Rakhine?” BBC News. September 19, 2017. Accessed September 19, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41082689.

[24] “Amnesty International.” Myanmar: New landmine blasts point to deliberate targeting of Rohingya. September 10 , 2017. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/09/myanmar-new-landmine-blasts-point-to-deliberate-targeting-of-rohingya/.

[25] “Rohingya crisis: Myanmar ‘mining border’ as refugees flee.” BBC News. September 06, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41176488.

[26] Steinberg, David I. Burma: the state of Myanmar. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press, 2002. p 25

[27] Steinberg, David I. Burma: the state of Myanmar. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press, 2002. p 25

[28] Ibid

[29] Young, Kenneth Ray. Nationalist Chinese troops in Burma — obstacle in Burmas foreign relations: 1949-1961. 1970

[30] McCoy, Alfred W. The politics of heroin: CIA complicity in the global drug trade. New York: Hill Books, 1991. p 171

[31] Steinberg, David I. Burma: the state of Myanmar. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press, 2002. p 26

[32] Ibid

[33] Smith, Martin. State of strife: the dynamics of ethnic conflict in Burma. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007. p 7

[34] Steinberg, David I. Burma: the state of Myanmar. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press, 2002. p 26

[35] Ibid

[36] Fong, Jack. Revolution as Development: the Karen Self-Determination Struggle Against Ethnocracy (1949-2004). Boca Raton, FL: Universal Publishers, 2008. p 151

[37] Kipgen, Nehginpao. “US-Burma relations: From isolation to engagement.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. December 31, 0000. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/US-Burma-relations-From-isolation-to-engagement.

[38] Kipgen, Nehginpao. Democratisation of Myanmar. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. p 95

[39] Ibid

[40] Li, Chenyang, Chaw Chaw Sein, and Xianghui Zhu. Myanmar: Reintegrating into the International Community. New Jersey: World Scientific, 2016. p 12

[41] Ibid p 130

[42] Ibid 131

[43] Ibid

[44] Ibid 132

[45] Ibid

[46] Steinberg, David I. Burma: the state of Myanmar. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press, 2002. p 26

[47] HAACKE, JURGEN. MYANMARS FOREIGN POLICY: domestic influences and international implications. S.l.: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017. p 25

[48] “China’s Relations with Burma.” United States Institute of Peace. December 30, 2016. Accessed September 23, 2017. https://www.usip.org/publications/2015/05/chinas-relations-burma.

[49] Emmott, Robin. “Burma angered as EU backs UN investigation into plight of Rohingya Muslims.” The Independent. May 03, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burma-eu-supports-un-human-rights-council-resolution-investigate-rohingya-muslims-aung-san-suu-kyi-a7714471.html.

[50] Emmott, Robin. “Burma angered as EU backs UN investigation into plight of Rohingya Muslims.” The Independent. May 03, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burma-eu-supports-un-human-rights-council-resolution-investigate-rohingya-muslims-aung-san-suu-kyi-a7714471.html.

[51] Kipgen, Nehginpao. “Conflict in Rakhine State in Myanmar: Rohingya Muslims Conundrum.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs33, no. 2 (2013): 298-310. doi:10.1080/13602004.2013.810117. p 66

[52] Kipgen, Nehginpao. “Conflict in Rakhine State in Myanmar: Rohingya Muslims Conundrum.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs33, no. 2 (2013): 298-310. doi:10.1080/13602004.2013.810117. p 66

[53] Board, The Editorial. “Opinion | Myanmar’s Shameful Denial.” The New York Times. January 10, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/opinion/myanmars-shameful-denial.html.

[54] England, Charlotte. “Burmese government denies ongoing genocide of Rohingya Muslims.” The Independent. January 04, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burma-government-rohingya-muslims-aung-san-suu-kyi-genocide-massacre-rape-minority-myanmar-a7508761.html.

[55] Lewis, Simon, and Wa Lone;. “Myanmar says fake news being spread to destabilise Suu Kyi government.” Reuters. May 05, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-myanmar-suukyi/myanmar-says-fake-news-being-spread-to-destabilise-suu-kyi-government-idUKKBN1810DD.

[56] “INFORMATION COMMITTEE REFUTES RUMOURS OF RAPES.” Myanmar State Counsellor Office. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://www.statecounsellor.gov.mm/en/node/551.

[57] “Doctors Without Borders kicked out of western Myanmar.” Al Jazeera America. Accessed September 23, 2017. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/28/doctors-without-borderskickedoutofwesternmyanmar.html.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Egreteau, Renaud, and Larry Jagan. Soldiers and diplomacy in Burma: understanding the foreign relations of the Burmese praetorian state. Singapore: NUS Press, 2013. Pp.138-156

[61] Pedersen, Morten B. Promoting human rights in Burma: a critique of Western sanctions policy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. p 21

[62] Ibid. p 22

[63] Ibid. p 22

[64] Miller, Janelle D. “The National Convention: an Impediment to the Restoration of Democracy.” In Burma: The Challenge of Change in a Divided Society. St. Martin’s Press, 1997. P. 27.

[65] Pedersen. Promoting human rights in Burma p 22

[66] Ibrahim. The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide p79.

[67] Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Myanmar’s Leader Has a Longtime Champion in Mitch McConnell.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2016.

[68] Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Myanmar’s Leader Has a Longtime Champion in Mitch McConnell.”

[69] Ibid

[70] Postrel, Virginia. “The Poverty Puzzle.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Mar. 2006

[71] Haack, Kirsten. “The United Nations democracy agenda: A conceptual history.” (2013).

[72] Pedersen. Promoting human rights in Burma p 24

[73] Weller, Paul. 2006. “Addressing Religious Discrimination and Islamophobia: Muslims and Liberal Democracies. the Case of the United Kingdom.” Journal of Islamic Studies 17 (3): 295-325.

[74] Pedersen. Promoting human rights in Burma. p.22

[75] CLAPP, PRISCILLA. “Prospects for Rapprochement Between the United States and Myanmar.” Contemporary Southeast Asia 32, no. 3 (2010): 409-26.

[76] Ibid p 424.

[77] https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252963.pdf

[78] Ibid

[79] Dale, John G. Free Burma: transnational legal action and corporate accountability. Minneapolis, MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 102

[80] Ibid. 107

[81] Ibid

[82] Ibid 107

[83] Ibid. 107-114

[84] Ibid. 104

[85] Paddock, Richard C. “Obama’s Move to End Myanmar Sanctions Promises a Lift for Its Economy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Sept. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/world/asia/myanmar-sanctions-economy-us.html?mcubz=0&_r=0. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

[86] Seekins, Donald M. “Japan’s development ambitions for Myanmar: the problem of “economics before politics”.” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs., vol. 34, no. 2, Aug. 2015, p. 113. University of Toronto Libraries.

[87] Ibid

[88] Ibid

[89] Kumar, Deepa. “Framing Islam: The Resurgence of Orientalism during the Bush II Era.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 34.3 (2010): 254. Web.

[90] Gostin, L. O. (2017), Best Evidence Aside: Why Trump’s Executive Order Makes America Less Healthy. Hastings Center Report, 47: 5–6.

[91] Navia, Tomás, and Pénélope Kyritsis. “On Drones and Foreign Correspondence.” Brown Journal of World Affairs 22, no. 1 (October 1, 2015): 311-20. University of Toronto Libraries

[92] Rubin, Barry. “NAVIGATING THE NEW MIDDLE EAST? THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS LOST AT SEA AND ON THE ROCKS.” Middle East Review of International Affairs 15, no. 4 (December 2013): 1-12

[93] Kumar, Deepa. “Framing Islam: The Resurgence of Orientalism during the Bush II Era.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 34.3 (2010): 254. Web.

[94] Ibid. 254

[95] Al Jazeera. “Myanmar: Who Are the Rohingya?” Humanitarian Crises | Al Jazeera. February 05, 2018. Accessed April 16, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/rohingya-muslims-170831065142812.html.

[96] Al Jazeera. “The Rohingya: Silent Abuse.” Myanmar | Al Jazeera. August 09, 2017. Accessed April 16, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2017/07/rohingya-silent-abuse-170730120336898.html.

[97] Ibid

[98] Article 125 of the Rome Statute, http://legal.un.org/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm .

[99] Coclanis, Peter A. “TERROR IN BURMA: Buddhists vs. Muslims.” World Affairs 176, no. 4 (2013): 25-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43554876.

[100] Ibid

[101] Ibid.

[102] Zarni, Maung. “Myanmar’s Step-by-Step Approach Toward Rohingya Genocide and Ethnocide.” In The Rohingyas of Arakan: history and heritage, 496. Chittagong, Bangladesh: Ali Publishing House, 2014.

[103] Mahmood, Syed S., Emily Wroe, Arlan Fuller, and Jennifer Leaning. “The Rohingya people of Myanmar: health, human rights, and identity.” The Lancet389, no. 10081 (2017): 1841-850.

[104] Patricia A. Weitsman. “The Politics of Identity and Sexual Violence: A Review of Bosnia and Rwanda.” Human Rights Quarterly 30, no. 3 (2008): 561-578. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed September 24, 2017).

[105] Meer, Nasar. “Racialization and religion: race, culture and difference in the study of antisemitism and Islamophobia.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 36, no. 3 (2013): 385-398.

[106] Noakes, Stephen. “Transnational Advocacy Networks and Moral Commitment: The Free Tibet Campaign Meets the Chinese State.” International Journal 67, no. 2 (2012): 509

[107] Ibid

[108] Ibid

[109] Ibid

[110] Ibid

[111] Lee, Ronan. “A politician, not an icon: Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya.” Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations 25, no. 3 (2014): 321-333.

[112] “Rohingya crisis: Are Suu Kyi’s Rohingya claims correct?” BBC News, BBC, 19 Sept. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41312931. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

[113] Guardian Staff and Agencies. “Aung San Suu Kyi denies ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Apr. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/05/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-ethnic-cleansing. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

[114] McLaughlin, Timothy. “How Aung San Suu Kyi Lost Her Way.” The Atlantic. September 28, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-united-nations/571618/.

[115] Stewart, Emily. “Poll: More Americans Are Hitting the Streets to Protest in the Era of Trump.” Vox. April 07, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/7/17209710/trump-protest-poll.

[116] Lee, Matthew J. “The stirring of an anti-Trumpfmovement – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 21 Aug. 2017, www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/columns/2017/08/21/the-stirring-anti-trump-movement/JdTeN4sRIYVxXkntWuSIOK/story.html. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

[117] “Miss Texas Criticizes Donald Trump Over Charlotteville.” Time, Time, time.com/4935917/miss-texas-trump/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

[118] Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52:4 (Autumn 1998), 887-917

[119] Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52:4 (Autumn 1998), 892

[120] Ekin, Annette. “The Mental Health Toll of the Rohingya Crisis.” Rohingya | Al Jazeera. October 10, 2017. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/10/mental-health-toll-rohingya-crisis-171010111603004.html.

[121] Hughes, Roland. “Myanmar Rohingya: How a ‘genocide’ Was Investigated.” BBC News. September 03, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-45341112.


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