Who are the Rohingya?

Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh after fleeing military violence in Myanmar

Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.

Many Rohingya came to Myanmar from what is now Bangladesh during the British colonial period (1820s to 1940s) to expand rice cultivation in Rakhine State.

About 1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State, making up some 2% of the country’s population and about 30% of the state’s population.

The Rohingya speak Rohingya or Ruaingga language, a dialect that is distinct to others spoken in Rakhine State and throughout Myanmar. Nevertheless, they are not considered one of the country's 135 official ethnic groups.

Rohingya residents of Myanmar are not citizens of their own nation. In 1982, Myanmar’s citizenship law classified all Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh, regardless of where they were born or how long their families had lived in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Rohingya population is the world’s largest group of stateless people.

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.