A surge in clashes between Islamist terrorists and the government of Burma (Myanmar) is at the root of a refugee crisis in Southeast Asia that has caused the United Nations and international media to focus attention on the Rohingyas in the northern Rakhine, an isolated province in the west of the Buddhist-majority country.
In late August 2017, a terrorist group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched a series of coordinated attacks on Burmese security forces in northern Rakhine. When the Burmese Army announced that it had responded by killing 370 assailants, Rohingya activists claimed that many of the dead were innocent people who had not been involved in the attacks. They also accused the authorities of demolishing Rohingya villages — devastation that was shown in satellite images released by Human Rights Watch — but the Burmese government said that it was carried out by ARSA, which had committed similar attacks on Burmese police in October 2016.
Since those events, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas — Muslims who settled in Burma prior to its independence in 1948 — have been fleeing for the last two years, primarily to neighboring India and Bangladesh, in an attempt to escape violence and poverty. Fearing for its national security, on the grounds that among the refugees are ARSA terrorists and sympathizers with ties to ISIS and other Islamist organizations, India issued a deportation order for the Rohingyas who had crossed the border illegally. This move, however, was met with resistance by the Indian Supreme Court. Bangladesh has addressed the problem by severely restricting the movement of the Rohingya refugees.
The outcry on behalf of the innocent men, women and children who are caught in the crossfire of the radicals — who claim to represent their interests — is completely justified. No humanitarian solution to their plight can be found or implemented, nevertheless, without understanding the conflict — and the true culprits behind it.
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