‧ The Rohingya are an 800,000-strong Muslim minority in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh. Though many claim to have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are not recognized as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups.
‧ A document on Burmese languages dating back to 1799 refers to “Rooinga” as “natives of Arakan [Rakhine],” but it is widely believed that most Rohingya came over from Bangladesh in about 1821, when Britain annexed Myanmar as a province of British India and brought over migrant Muslim laborers.
‧ Large-scale Burmese government crackdowns on the Rohingya — including Operation Dragon King in 1978, and Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation in 1991 — forced hundreds of thousands to flee to Bangladesh. Thousands of others have also left for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, many of them by boat.
‧ This latest crisis to befall Rakhine State, which has seen 200 killed and 115,000 displaced — most of them Rohingya — tests Myanmar’s recent transition to democracy and its commitment to establishing full human rights for those within its borders.