Why Activists Ignore Crimes Against the Rohingya Minority in Myanmar

06/12/2015 12:11 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2016

The story is familiar. A Muslim population that holds little political power is being mistreated, denied their rights and pushed out of land where their families have lived for generations. This time it is happening in a remote corner of a distant country where few Westerners have traveled. The treatment of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar is, however, a major human rights violation. A Human Rights watch report from 2013 states that, "The criminal acts committed against the Rohingya and Kaman Muslim communities in Arakan State beginning in June 2012 amount to crimes against humanity carried out as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing." Much of the recent coverage of this issue has focused on the question of Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar to neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, but the question of why they are fleeing should be recognized as well. For years, Rohingya have been mistreated in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, primarily at the hands of the Rakhine people, another of Myanmar's extensive panoply of ethnic groups. They have been stripped of their rights, faced discrimination in employment, housing and the like and have even been interred in camps.