Five years on from the genocide in Myanmar, its Muslim minority still suffers - on both sides of the border with Bnagladesh.

On a vacant patch of land in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state along the western flank of Myanmar, grass grows long under the hot sun. A house once stood on this plot, though all trace of it is long gone.

Mohammed. a 36-year-old Rohingya man, grew up in that house and lived there until 2012, when he and his family were forced to flee by a band of ethnic Rakhines wielding sticks and torches. The summer mobs of Rakhine villages and Burmese soldiers razed Rohingya villages and killed hundreds of people belonging to the long-persecuted Muslim minority group.

Some 140,000 Rohingyas were displaced in the melee and herded into camps, where they have remained ever since.

The pogrom of 2012 laid the groundwork for a bigger bout of bloodshed five years later. In 2017 Burmese security forces launched a campaign of mass killing, rape and arson in northern Rakhine, in what the UN has branded as genocide.

Nearly 750,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, where they live in the world's biggest refugee camp.

In the decade since the rampage of 2012 and the five years since the genocide of 2017, the Rohingyas have been subject to conditions designed to drain the life ethnic group, according to the UN.

Crossing over into Bangladesh afforded some respite, at first. Yet the Bangladeshi government has long since begun to view the refugees as a burden. Violence in the camps is rampant, with much of it committed by the Bangladeshi security forces.

No matter which side of the border Rohingyas find themselves today, their experience is the same : hunger and misery surrounded by barbed wire.

The Burmese army, which has run Myanmar for most of the past 50 years, began persecuting Rohingyas decades ago, It first attempted to drive them off their land in 1978, using the now familiar tools of murder, arson and rape. Its high command considers them Bangladeshi interlopers with no claim to Burmese citizenship - as do many other Burmese.

It enshrined that view in law 40 years ago, turning the Rohingyas into the world's largest community of  stateless people.

 It was not until 2012, however, that the government began to herd Rohingyas into camps.This segregation, in addition to the imposition of a  matrix of   repressive laws, which includes restrictions on marriage and having children, amount to a system apartheid, according to Human Rights Watch [HRW], an advocacy group. After the genocide of 2017, this vice tightened.

Today about a fifth of the Rohingyas who remain in Myanmar live in what Fortify Rights, a pressure group, calls ''modern concentration camps''.

One unfortunate resident, Hla Maung, lives cheek by jowl with 11 relatives in one of the cramped shelters into which families are crowded.

These structures were originally designed to last two years. Many have been badly damaged by monsoons and flooding over the past decade. In April some 28,000 Rohingyas were living in shelters deemed by the UN to be structurally unsound.

Because international aid agencies must apply to travel to the camps two weeks in advance they cannot always repair shelters right away. ''Living conditions are, by design, squalid,'' observed HRW in a recent report.

As long as the Burmese army is in power, little about the Rohingyas' condition is likely to change. ''Life in the camps is worse than prison,'' says Mohammed, who now lives in a camp outside Sittwe.

At least prisoners know the length of their sentence. Rohingyas do not know if they will ever be released. Even if they are, many would have no home to return to.

The authorities long ago bulldozed the ruins of houses like Mohammed's, and sold the land to developers - making it easier to remove every last trace of the group.

The Sadness of this Master Essay and Publishing continues.The World Students Society thanks The Economist.


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