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A recent Harvard study said that one in seven stateless around the world are of Rohingya origin.The Rohingya have basically been removed from their villages.They sided with the Japanese invaders because they believed Japan would be victorious in the war, and they would expel the British colonial masters. Myanmar became independent in 1948, and the British colonialists left. But the Buddhism they follow in Myanmar, it’s not the Buddhism you and I are familiar with. How did this elevation of Buddhism in the military play out in practice?The Rohingya minority, on the other hand, stayed loyal to the British, so that when the war was over, and the British were victorious, there was bad blood. The country had a relatively peaceful couple of decades until 1962. The military passed a number of laws, including the 1974 Emergency Immigration Act, and all the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship. It’s been repeated so often in Myanmar that it’s actually accepted now as fact.That laid the foundation for the current situation that we’re in.Can you give a basic overview of the current situation?
Bangladesh is already hosting about 400,000 Rohingya, and many experts now believe that by the end of this period, you could have 30 to 40 percent of the entire population of the Rohingya being ethnically cleansed just in this short period of time.He’s actually at the border, and he’s told me that even as the civilians are fleeing, the Myanmar military is shooting at them. Human Rights Watch has obtained satellite images that show that over 100 kilometers of villages [in the Rakhine State] have been burnt to the ground.In some areas, like in Maungdaw, 80 percent of all houses have been completely and utterly burnt to the ground.In 1962, there was a military coup by the army chief of staff General Ne Win. That was followed by the 1982 Citizenship Law, which said all Rohingya are actually foreigners; they’re actually all illegal immigrants who have come from Bangladesh, and they should all go back to Bangladesh. Bizarrely, they put a date on it: They say in March 1942, the term did not exist. One of the things I said in my book is that I went to the Indian National Archives in New Delhi, and I dug up documents from the British colonial period, some of them dating back to 1799, 1826, and 1824, which is when the British had done a census of that whole region.When he came to power, he implemented a program called “The Burmese Road to Socialism.” It’s essentially a communist manifesto. So he did what a lot of military dictators do in that situation: tried to find a scapegoat to blame the economic failure on. It clearly states that one in three souls in that region are “Musulmans” of Rohingya origin. So this idea that it’s a manufactured term, and these people are illegal, is false.