Burma’s Rohingya Are Now Being Forced to Live in Squalid Ghettos Watched by Guards


The policeman manning the barbed-wire roadblock at the entrance to Bhumi quarter in Sittwe spells out the rules: if the Rohingya try to leave without a permit, they are apprehended and taken back to their homes. Asked if the Arakanese (Rakhine) are treated the same, he smiles, embarrassed, and shakes his head. This neighborhood, in the capital of western Burma’s Arakan (Rakhine) state, is one of several Muslim-majority areas of the town that have been transformed into de facto open-air prisons, with the movement of inhabitants tightly restricted by armed guards.

The ghettos are among several developments to have occurred in Sittwe since violence broke out between Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities in June 2012. Their populations are gradually thinning out: reports of a massacre of Rohingya in early January by Rakhine mobs and soldiers in Maungdaw in the north of the state quickly spread south, triggering panic among…

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