1. Who are Rohingyas?
Rohingyas are a small ethnic group living mainly in Myanmar and neighbouring country of Bangladesh. Of the 55 million people living in entire Myanmar, about eight hundred thousand are Rohingyas. Majority of Rohingya people profess Sunni Islam in Myanmar, while almost 90% of the population of Myanmar are Buddhists.
Living compactly on the territory of the western state of Rakhine (also called Arakan), Rohingyas consider themselves as one of the indigenous peoples of Myanmar. However, in Naypyidaw (the capital of Myanmar) they are considered either separatists or refugees from Bangladesh.
2. History of Rohingyas in Myanmar?
Even in the 19th century, during the active British colonization of the region, the British Empire attracted Bengali Muslims to Arakan as a work force – so the Muslim population of the region began to grow gradually.
During the Second World War, when Burma (formerly Myanmar) was occupied by Japan, local Buddhists supported the Axis forces, and the Bengali Muslims remained loyal to the British crown. Then the two sides committed mass mutual reprisals, during which tens of thousands of people died. Since then, the attitude of Naypyidaw to the ethnic and religious minority of Rakhine has remained hostile.