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Myanmar targeted the educated in genocide against Rohingya

  • Published at 03:44 pm June 5th, 2018
Rohingya refugees
Photo shows Rohingya refugees

AP quotes experts on genocide who called Myanmar’s action 'an old tactic ... and often a precursor to killing'

Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25 last year when the country’s military and local Buddhists started a campaign of rape, massacre, and arson.

According to the Associated Press (AP), more than a dozen teachers, elders, and religious leaders told the news outlet that educated Rohingya were singled out as part of Myanmar's operation to drive the Muslim Rohingyas from majority Buddhist Myanmar.

The locals told AP that soldiers targeted the educated so “there would be no community leaders left willing to speak up against the pervasive abuse.”

AP quotes experts on genocide who called Myanmar’s action “an old tactic ... and often a precursor to killing.”

A local Rohingya, Hashim, said his brother “apologized and pleaded with the military not to kill him.” He even showed them his ID card and said he was a teacher. But the government had planned to kill the educated people, including my brother, Hashim said.

Hashim’s interview was taken at a Bangladeshi refugee camp. He, like his brother, is a teacher. He ran for the hills and hid after the military surrounded his hamlet in northern Rakhine state, where most of the Rohingya lived, AP reports. 

After the August 25 attacks, soldiers came to Maung Nu village, and asked villagers: "Where are the teachers?"

According to AP, Rahim, a 26-year-old high school science and math teacher, who was known to many soldiers because he taught their children at the local battalion school, saw the military coming and fled.

Rahim knew he would die if he got caught. “They were hunting me," said Rahim, who, like some Rohingya, uses only one name. 

Researchers see parallels between what is happening in Myanmar and other genocides, including the Holocaust, writes AP.

According to a report by UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, which interviewed 65 refugees in last September: "The Myanmar security forces targeted teachers, the cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture, and knowledge."

An Amnesty International report from November last year documented a system of “institutionalized discrimination and segregation of the Rohingya that was meant to erase their identity.” 

According to the report, since an outbreak of Buddhist-Muslim violence in 2012, Rohingya children have been “prevented from attending Buddhist schools, and official government teachers often refuse to come to Rohingya villages because of purported safety worries.”

In the months before August 25, informers made it too dangerous to teach Rohingya language or culture, even in secret, according to a long-time headmaster at a middle school who spoke on condition of anonymity because of safety worries if he's ever allowed to return home, reports AP.

He told AP that four days before violence began on August 25, about 300 soldiers surrounded his home, handcuffed him and his son who were later brought to the school where other teachers and five mullahs were also taken. The headmaster’s son was kicked and beaten, but he was able to flee to Bangladesh soon after the August killing began.

He said there are a few educated people left in his village, but they would never raise their voices. Things will get worse for the Rohingya because no one would speak up for them, he added.