101 East
Nowhere To Go
Reviled in Myanmar and unwanted in Bangladesh, where does one of the world's most persecuted minorities really belong?
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2012 05:18

The Rohingya are a stateless people described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

They are reviled in Myanmar, the country many Rohingya call home, and unwelcome in neighbouring Bangladesh, where tens of thousands live in refugee camps.

And now they could be facing their worst crisis yet.

Violent ethnic clashes in Myanmar's Rakhine state have led to calls for their expulsion from the country. Boatloads of Rohingya refugees have been denied entry into Bangladesh. Those already there live on the fringes of society, undocumented and at risk of exploitation.

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In late May, news broke of the brutal rape and murder of a Buddhist woman in Myanmar's Rakhine state. It was, by all accounts, a horrific crime.

What made it worse for some was that the alleged perpetrators were men from the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Five days later a crowd attacked a bus and killed nine Muslims in what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. The clashes erupted suddenly, and ferociously.

Rakhine state has since become the scene of more violence. Entire villages have been burnt down and people driven from their homes. Both sides accuse each other of atrocities and the Myanmar government has declared a state of emergency in the region.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya people now live in refugee camps, with their movements being restricted.

In Myanmar they are not recognised as citizens and their access to opportunities are severely curtailed.

In the aftermath of the Rakhine riots, human rights observers fear they might become the target of more discrimination.

Myanmar does not want them. But neither does neighbouring Bangladesh, the country with the second-largest concentration of the Rohingya.

So where do the Rohingya really belong? 101 East looks at who should take responsibility for the community.

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