[Caption: A Rohingya Muslim Girl; Image Source: Myanmar Muslim]
Although this story is not strictly about Chinese Muslims but it is related to a news item which has been quite prominent in the news lately and does involve Muslims in China but not exactly Chinese Muslims. What I am referring to are people from the Rohingya ethnic group who are predominantly Muslims and have been forced to flee their homeland by the Military Junta. I saw this news item by chance and discusses the plight of Rohingyas and how many have found refuge in Southwest China. Here is an extract from the story:
“I don’t even know where my friends are buried,” Islam said, bursting into sobs. “My mistake was being educated,” said the zoologist. After five months of clandestine living he joined the exodus of hundreds of thousands fleeing the junta to neighbouring Bangladesh. “I had to leave, the military was going from home to home looking for me,” said Islam.
About 236,000 Myanmar Muslims, known as Rohingyas, have been forcibly repatriated to Myanmar since the 1990s, but another 20,000 still live in two United Nations refugee camps near the Bangladesh border with Myanmar. For 16 years Islam lived as one of the 100,000 undocumented immigrants from Myanmar in Bangladesh, joining a patriotic front that aimed to fight the junta back home.
But the group folded, as did his small textile business, prompting him to move to Ruili two years ago as unwelcoming Bangladeshi authorities closed in on undocumented Myanmar citizens living in their country. From his new home, he has been forced to watch the Myanmar regime’s harsh response after up to 100,000 people took to the streets in successive days in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, to protest the junta’s rule.
I’m not a businessman. I want to fight for my people, but there’s nothing I can do from here,” he said. Islam’s real name is Sue Kway but like all from Rakhine, a predominantly Islamic state in western Myanmar, he was forced to take a name that identifies him as a member of the Muslim faith.
The Muslim Rohingya is one of seven ethnic minority states which were formed under the Myanmar constitution of 1974, but human rights groups including Amnesty International have documented a catalogue of abuses by the junta. An amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 deprived the Rohingyas of citizenship, suddenly making them illegal immigrants in their own home.