SARA ALTUWAIJRI WRITES — Myanmar is facing a second wave of COVID-19, new cases are skyrocketing and, with general elections coming November 8, officials are accusing Rohingya of spreading the second wave of COVID. Why the blame? So that those aiming for election or re-election can gain people’s support. As elections get closer, politicians are spreading hate against the Rohingya. As stated by Rohingya activist Nay San Lwin, “Politicians in Myanmar are always trying to take advantage of the situation we are in. Although there were no Rohingya victims in the second COVID-19 wave, some politicians began propagating against us.” She adds that despite the fact that the first two new cases of coronavirus involved Rakhine Buddhists, Muslim Rohingya are blamed for the second wave and accused of bringing the virus from Bangladesh.
Rohingya have no laws to protect them in Myanmar. They are prohibited from visiting neighboring towns. Neighbors are willing to notify authorities as to which houses belong to Rohingya. Any Rohingya re-entering the country are arrested and jailed for six months, while other returnees are left alone.
The situation is so dire, Rohingya even sometimes have to bribe smugglers to take them to the hospital, but in some cases the sick persons have died on the way because it takes one to two weeks to get official permission to travel to the hospital. Additionally, towns with a Rohingya majority are fined much more than Buddhist majority towns. For example, the fine for not wearing a mask is 1000 (Kyat) ($0.75) in Buddhist towns, and 10,000 (Kyat) ($7.75) in Rohingya majority towns. No action is taken when Buddhists violate lockdown laws, yet despite Rohingya strictly following lockdown laws, no laws protect them. When are they going to stop treating the Rohingya as the lowest tier of society?