The Persecution of Rohingya Muslims and the Path to Democratization in Myanmar

Muhammad Wildan


Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have long endured severe discrimination and persecution. Although the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for centuries, their existence is not fully accepted by the majority of Buddhist society. Rohingya Muslims residing in the north-western area of Rakhine are considered stateless people. In the last ten years, Rohingya Muslims have been treated severely and even expelled from their place of birth. This humanitarian crisis has attracted many international organizations that are aiding Rohingya and urging Myanmar’s civilian government to recognize Rohingya as an official ethnic group. This article explores the roots of Islamophobia in Myanmar and analyses its effect on Muslims’ daily life in Myanmar, and in particular for the Rohingya. Ultimately, it is important to discern the path of democratization in Myanmar, as currently led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), analyzing the present state and future of democratization of the country, especially on a socio-political level.


Hatred; Islamophobia; Discrimination; Persecution; Power-Sharing

Full Text:



ABS-CBN News. 2017. “Malaysia Disputes Cayetano’s ASEAN Chair Statement on Rohingya.” (April 26, 2021).

Ahmed, Asif. 2012. “Burma: Planned Religious And Racial Riots Against Muslims: A Historical Overview – OpEd.” Eurasia Review. (April 26, 2021).

Airoldi, Donna. 2017. “UNHCR Chief Urges Myanmar to Grant Rohingya Citizenship.” Reuters. (April 26, 2021).

Aljazeera. 2019. “Asean Must Not Turn a Blind Eye to Rohingya Crisis: Rights Groups.” ASEAN News. (April 26, 2021).

Amnesty. 2020. “Myanmar Fails to Protect Rohingya After World Court Order.” (April 26, 2021).

Arabnews. 2017. “Oic Condemns Abuses Against Rohingya in Myanmar.” Arab News. (August 25, 2020).

ASEAN. 2017. “ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on The Humanitarian Situation in Rakhine State.” ASEAN | One Vision One Identity One Community. (August 27, 2020).

AsiaNews. 2012. “Mosque Shuttered, Prayer Ban on Rohingya During Ramadan in Myanmar.”,-prayer-ban-on-Rohingya-during-Ramadan-in-Myanmar-25619.html (July 13, 2017).

Aung, San Yamin. 2020. “The Untouchable Articles in Myanmar’s Constitution.” The Irrawaddy. (April 26, 2021).

BBC News. 2015. “Will Anyone Help the Rohingya People?” BBC News. (July 8, 2017).

———. 2016. “Myanmar Wants Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya - UN Official.” BBC News. (July 13, 2017).

Bodetti, Austin. 2016. “Inside Myanmar’s Rohingya Camps: What It Looks like to Be a Refugee in Your Own Country.” The World from PRX. (July 11, 2017).

Chia, Jasmine. 2016. “The Truth About Myanmar’s Rohingya Issue.” (July 11, 2017).

Cochrane, Liam. 2017. “Myanmar May Have Killed ‘thousands’ of Rohingya Muslims.” (July 9, 2017).

Harji, Muslim. 2014. “Photo Essay: The Ismaili Jamatkhana in Myanmar, With Notes on the Community’s Patriotic Spirit.” Simergphotos - Images and Videos from Around the World. (April 16, 2020).

Holmes, Oliver. 2016. “Myanmar Seeking Ethnic Cleansing, Says UN Official as Rohingya Flee Persecution.” the Guardian. (April 16, 2020).

Hooker, M. B. 1983. Islam in South-East Asia. Leiden: Brill.

Human Rights Resource Center. 2015. Keeping the Faith: A Study of Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion in ASEAN. Depok: Universitas Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch. 2002. Crackdown on Burmese Muslims. Human Rights Watch.

———. 2016. “Burma: Military Burned Villages in Rakhine State.” Human Rights Watch. (April 26, 2021).

International Crisis Group. 2003. Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics.

———. 2013. The Dark Side of Transition: Violence Against Muslims in Myanmar.

Irinews. 2013. “How to Reverse Buddhism’s Radical Turn in Southeast Asia?” The New Humanitarian. (April 26, 2021).

Jerryson, Michael K., and Mark Juergensmeyer. 2010. Buddhist Warfare. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jilani, Ahmad FK. 1999. The Rohingyas of Arakan: Their Quest for Justice. Dhaka: Ahmed Jilani.

Jones, Dorian. 2017. “Turkish Envoy Visits Bangladesh to Help Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar.” VOA English. (August 28, 2020).

Kadoe, Naw Lily, and Fatimah Husein. 2015. “Ulama, State, and Politics in Myanmar.” Al-Jami’ah: Journal of Islamic Studies 53(1): 131–58.

Karen Human Rights Group. 2014. “Easy Target: The Persecution of Muslims in Burma.” Karen Human Rights Group. (April 26, 2021).

Katz, Nathan, and Ellen S. Goldberg. 1988. “The Last Jews in India and Burma.” (April 26, 2021).

Kelly, Liam. 2016. “Myanmar: Who Are the Rohingya?” Newsweek. (April 16, 2020).

Kettani, Mohammed Ali Kettani. 1986. 2 Muslim Minorities in the World Today. London: Mansell.

Leider, Jacques. 2017. “Transmutations of the Rohingya Movement in the Post-2012 Rakhine State Crisis.” In Ethnic and Religious Identities and Integration in Southeast Asia, eds. Ooi Keat Gin and Volker Grabowsky. Silkworm Books, 191–239. (April 26, 2021).

MacGregor, Fiona. 2013. “Burma’s ‘bin Laden of Buddhism’.” The Telegraph. (April 18, 2020).

Ministry of Immigration and Population. 2014. The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census. Nay Pyi Taw: Department of Population. The Union Report: Religion.

Minority at Risk. 2017. Chronology for Rohingya (Arakanese) in Burma. (April 26, 2021).

Moe, Wai, and Austin Ramzy. 2016. “Myanmar Lawmakers Name Htin Kyaw President, Affirming Civilian Rule.” The New York Times. (July 10, 2017).

Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 2020. “OIC Welcomes ICJ Decision Ordering Myanmar to Stop Genocide Against Rohingya.” OIC welcomes ICJ decision ordering Myanmar to stop genocide against Rohingya. (August 27, 2020).

Perry, Michael J. 2009. “Liberal Democracy and the Right to Religious Freedom.” The Review of Politics 71(4): 621–35.

Pew Research Center. 2011. “The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010–2030.” In The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Washington DC: Pew-Templeton.

———. 2015. Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities. Washington DC: Pew Research Center.

Priestley, Harry. 2006. “The Irrawaddy News Magazine Online Edition.” (July 8, 2017).

Safdar, Anealla. 2015. “Myanmar’s 2015 Election: Who Are the Rohingya?” (April 26, 2021).

Slodkowski, Antoni. 2017. “Myanmar Rebuffs Malaysia for Organizing OIC Meeting on Rohingya.” Reuters. (April 18, 2020).

Szep, Jason. 2013. “Special Report: Buddhist Monks Incite Muslim Killings in Myanmar.” Reuters. (April 18, 2020).

Thawnghmung, Ardeth Maung. 2003. “Preconditions and Prospects for Democratic Transition in Burma/Myanmar.” Asian Survey 43(3): 443–60.

The Ministry of Information of Myanmar. 2008. Constitution of The Republic of The Union of Myanmar.

Tonkin, D. 2014. “The ‘Rohingya’ Identity: British Experience in Arakan 1826–1948.” Rangoon: Network Myanmar. (April 9, 2020).

UN General Assembly, UN General Assembly. 1948. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Pdf.”

US Department of State. 2006. “International Religious Freedom Report 2006.” Burma.

Veen, Rianne ten. 2005. Myanmar’s Muslims: The Oppressed of the Oppressed. UK: Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Yegar, Moshe. 1972. The Muslims of Burma. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz.

———. 1981. “The Crescent in Arakan.” In Israeli The Crescent in the East: Islam in Asia Major, London: Cruzon.

DOI: Abstract - 0 PDF - 0


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
All publication by Studia Islamika are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Studia Islamika, ISSN: 0215-0492, e-ISSN: 2355-6145

View My Stats