The Myanmar Rohingya Genocide

In August 2017, Myanmar army brutally started a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims killing, raping, arson of million and others hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. It is estimated that about 24,000 Rohingyan people were killed, perpetrated gang raped and other kind of sexual violence at the hand of military. The act of Ethnic Cleansing as defined by the UN. The characteristics of terrorism the notion of targeting the innocent civilians becomes extremely problematic when one tries to distinguish state terrorism from other forms of state violence. Nation states have complete sovereignty over their citizens but what if the protector becomes the predator, what are the extent to which a state are made accountable. What are the limits to its sovereignty?

The constructivist approach explains how knowledge is constructed by people through their experiences, identities, language, culture and representations construct information and add it to their pre-existing knowledge. There are a number of contributing factors such as

The Identity Crises:

 Myanmar, the countries dominate ethnic group comprising about 90% is Buddhist, the de facto state religion is Buddhism. Rohingya are an ethnic minority, with their own language and culture as they are the descendants of Arab traders and many other groups who had been in the region for generations. As with the lacking of even a single element required for the construction of a social environment the majority never accepted then, not as citizen of their state even as basic people, they sow and treated them as refuges form Bangladesh, as a burden they were not ready to bear. Hence with increasing dissociation among the masses in the last decade, hundreds of Muslims have been murdered, raped and burned alive in their camps, mosques been destroyed and making hundred flee to their homes.

Lack of Representation:

 The Rohingya Muslims were denied of identity or the sense of belonging as the government refused to grant the Rohingya citizenship and resulting in making a group stateless people and without any legal documents. After being stripped off completely to the access of full citizenship not until recently they had been granted white cards, they only granted limited rights but were not recognized as proof of citizenship. They were not granted vote rights or to stand as parliamentary candidate. Due to the pressure by Buddhist nationalist, the government decided that Rohingya could only register if they identify themselves as Bengali instead. With the increasing discrimination among the ethnic groups the Rohingya Muslims were at a risk of genocide but the state took insufficient steps to mitigate the risk or advance effective justice measures. Hence the state failed as the protector.

Narrative Building:

 The Narrative Building or knowledge construction is a main contributing factor in constructivist approach. The Nationalist Buddhist started spreading Anti- Muslim narratives, creating islamophobia, that they need to be very careful of they might be extinct by another race as that whole country would be swallowed by the Muslim Kalars. The Ministry of Immigration and Population adopted a motto that the earth would not swallow a race to extension but another race will. There were a number of restriction such as on marriage, family planning as they were only allowed to have two children, employment, education, religious choice, and freedom of movement. The Buddhist monastic community, spread Islam phobic messages as the unsubstantial rumors of Muslim violence against Buddhist, define it as their motto to take over the country and destroy Buddhism. Resulting in thousands of monks participating in anti-Muslim demonstration, adding fuel to religious tension in the region.


 Constricting a justification for their actions, giving legitimacy to them is a socially constructed phenomena. The Buddhist community had justified their actions by using Buddhist theology that violence is accepted if it is done to defend their religion. The Army in Myanmar legitimated their brutal killing by saying it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians. Where else the country’s leader the once human right icon Aung San Kyi completely rapidly denied allegations of genocide even after United Nations court order to the state to take measures to protect members of its Rohingya community from genocide.


 Myanmar resent ethnic and religious violence is a traumas of history. The suffering from colonialism period to the economic disparity and with the resent transition from military government to more democratic government in the arena of a global war on terror have played a major role in shaping the conflict. The fear of being oppressed again gave way to the alarm that if the Muslim population kept on growing they might try to seize control over their land. Myanmar has long denied carrying out genocide and says that it has been carrying out its own independent investigations into the events of 2017. The sates ICOE admitted that the members of the security forces may have carried out, war crime, serious human right violations of their domestic law, but still rejected the execution of genocide.

 Terrorism, the act of infusing terror but now is not limited to actions of non-state actors but are used by states to achieve their interest. Terrorism has been used as a tool rather than an end to achieve some goals. In the case of Myanmar, the state continuous efforts to hide the evidence and denying the existence of one occurring at the hands of its military, and after wards labelling it as a defense strategy against the rebels. The concept of terrorism being a contested term come in action here as the state of Myanmar label the rebel of Rohingya as terrorist which tried to rise voice against the unjust treatment occurring with them from generations

Ramsha Babar
Ramsha Babar
I am an undergraduate student of International Relations at National Defence University, Islamabad. I am a freelance content writer and enjoy writing and analyzing World politics and diplomatic relations and their effects on International Relations.