The million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (governed ironically by Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi) are facing the final stages genocide, which leads to complete extinction. On November 30, the state newspaper operating under Aung San Suu Kyi’s government called the Rohingya “human fleas.”
This cannot go unnoticed. Throughout history, those in power have dehumanized marginalized groups as a way of normalizing violence. Before the Holocaust, Joseph Goebbels wrote that Jewish people were fleas on society, the same way the Rohingya are being dehumanized now. Joseph Goebbels became the propaganda chief for Hitler. We see this again and again in Rwanda during the mass slaughter of Tutsis and their dehumanization on radio shows, and now on popular media in South Sudan as well.
The Rohingya have been denied citizenship by the Burmese government for centuries, but now rising nationalist movements at the hands of conservative Buddhists the Rohingya face extinction. Entire villages are being burned to the ground, and state newspapers are calling for violence against the Rohingya. Tens of thousands have fled, but they are met with violence at the Bangladesh border and forced back to their almost certain death.
Genocides start with words, not actions. We allow genocides to happen when we do nothing. Many groups in the United States are currently centered around inciting violence against people that don’t look or pray like them. We can’t just look away once again.