Rise for Rohingya
By Jubaida Miami
Identify and elaborate on one or more lessons that we have learned from historical genocides or mass persecutions. Can these lessons be applied to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis?
Looking back, my AP World History class has taught me a lot about some of the biggest genocides in history. I learned about the Holocaust, as well as the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda. Although I was already aware that humans do terrible things to each other, now I have a broader historical understanding of what we can learn from genocides and mass persecutions. The lesson I have learned from this is that the world, specifically the United Nations, is not very good at stopping genocides. In fact, genocides and mass persecutions have become more frequent in the last 100 years. You would think the bloodshed from the past would have taught us to not repeat our mistakes, but it’s the 21st century and genocides still exist. The Rohingya Crisis is one of the many examples of my claim.
During the ongoing Rwanda genocide in 1994, the Clinton administration didn’t publicize it to the American people because then they would have to intervene and the United Nations decided to not meddle. This was a tragic decision. In the 1998 New York Times article, “Clinton Declares U.S. and the World Failed Rwandans,” President Clinton is quoted addressing a group of people who lost parents, siblings and children during three months of ethnic cleansing: “We in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred in Rwanda in 1994” (Bennet, 1998). This was one of the bloodiest mass murders in history, and the UN Security Council did nothing to stop it.
The Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced years of repression and, since 2017, ethnic cleansing, which are the aspects of genocide. And many of the same problems that hindered the international reaction to Rwanda are present with the Rohingya. After the military commenced genocide against the Rohingya in 2016, a refugee crisis erupted, but the United Nations did not engage at the time. According to the article, “Why the UN failed to save the Rohingya,” “Myanmar’s intent to commit international crimes was made clear to the most senior levels of the UN, yet no action was taken” (Carroll, 2019). The UN was aware of the situation and decided not to intervene. No action was taken and the Rohingyas suffered.
Although the genocide of the Tutsis ethnic group in Rwanda prompted the United Nations and international civil society to rethink the international atrocity prevention system, not enough change has happened. The UN was supposed to signal a renewed commitment to the goal of preventing mass tragedies and intervening to stop them when they occur. In Bangladesh, about “250,000 people” lived in refugee camps in the 1990s (Reid, 2021). Failure to take action and officially labeling a genocide will do more harm than good. While governments may not listen to us, we, the people, must share our stories and communicate to others. We have to use our voices to prevent such grim crimes against humanity.
Bennet, J. (1998, March 26). Clinton Declares U.S. and the World Failed Rwandans. The New York Times. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/world/032698clinton-africa.html.
Carroll, J. (2019, June 28). Why the UN failed to save the Rohingya. Human Rights News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/6/28/why-the-un-failed-to-save-the-rohingya.
Reid, K. (2021, May 14). Rohingya refugee crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help. World Vision. https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/rohingya-refugees-bangladesh-facts.
I wanted to improve upon the work that I did last year. This was for an essay contest and I didn’t win but the topic is very important. So I decided to get help this time and improve. My mentor’s notes really helped me perfect my essay.
Jubaida is a high school junior from Queens New York. She likes writing essays and enjoys writing about her experiences. Writing helps her let everything out and allows her to reflect. Once she starts writing, she doesn’t stop and she loves that.