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ICC NOTE: The Minority Rohingya Muslims in Burma have been considered one of the most persecuted religious minorities in the world. They have called western Myanmar their home for generations yet they are not recognized by the Burmese government as citizens. Since they are not considered citizens they are not able to receive any support or protections from officials. They are looked upon as more of a nuisance and “interlopers” among the Buddhist majority as most live in internment camps which are seen as possibly the worst in the world in terms of conditions. In a new development from the democratically elected government, the Aung San Suu Kyi administration is calling for international media and governments to refrain from using the term Rohingya. By doing so they are attempting to hide the plight in which the minority Muslim community is facing in Burma. It is an attempt to eliminate their identity from the press and from the history books as a distinct ethnic religious minority. 

5/9/2016 Burma (Time) – Burma’s newly installed government is trying to get foreign diplomats to refrain from using the name Rohingya, in the latest blow to the country’s heavily persecuted Muslim group. The move is an apparent bow to pressure from a small but influential ultra-nationalist movement that refuses to recognize the rights of the Rohingya people to belong in Burma.

A spokeswoman for Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aye Aye Soe, told TIME that the government was “not objecting [to] the term [Rohingya] but requesting not to use it.” The suggestion was made during private “courtesy calls” between Aung San Suu Kyi — in her role as Minister of Foreign Affairs — and the U.S. Ambassador to Burma Scot Marciel, after the embassy had been targeted by Burmese over its use of the word. Protesters see the term — which means a person of Rohang, the old Muslim term for what is now Arakan state in western Burma — as conferring historical legitimacy on the Muslim presence in the country.

Though the historical origins of the term Rohingya are muddy, many Rohingya families have lived in western Burma for generations and the majority choose this term to describe themselves. However, during the 2014 census, the Rohingya were forced to identify themselves as “Bengali” — the official term for them — or they would not be registered. They are not recognized as one of the 135 official ethnic groups in the country, and nearly all of the 1.1 million Rohingya are denied citizenship and basic rights.

The U.N. considers the Rohingya, who reside near Burma’s border with Bangladesh, to be among the world’s most persecuted minorities, but in most of Burma they are viewed as dangerous interlopers. In western Arakan state, a spate of deadly riots beginning in 2012 between the local Buddhist population and the Muslim Rohingya claimed more than 100 lives and displaced some 140,000 people — mostly Rohingya. Many are still confined to squalid camps where they are denied freedom of movement, education and healthcare. Conditions are so dire that tens of thousands have fled by boat, undertaking perilous voyages in the hands of traffickers in the hope of finding refuge in Muslim-majority Malaysia or other Southeast Asian countries.

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