The whos and whys behind the Rohingyas' suffering

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KINIGUIDE Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his cabinet's show at a demonstration last weekend to protest the persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar has ruffled diplomatic feathers.

An unhappy six-month-old Myanmar government led by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to stop sending its workers to Malaysia as a sign of protest.

Malaysiakini attempts to shed some light on the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and why were they being targeted by the military.

Who are the Rohingyas?

The Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic minority who claim they are indigenous to Myanmar's Rakhine state (formerly known as Arakan) along the western coast of Myanmar, while detractors argue they had migrated from neighbouring Bengal.

They were originally recognised as Myanmar citizens when the country became independent from the British in 1946 and they were once allowed to vote.

However, in 1982, Myanmar's military rulers enacted a new citizenship law that recognised 135 distinct ethnic groups, except the Rohingya and five others. With this, 800,000 Rohingyas became stateless.

The Myanmar government banned the word 'Rohingya' in 2014 and instead referred to them as "Bengalis".

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