Mark S. of International Christian Concern writes about the Rohingya Christians of Myanmar, a minority within an already oppressed minority. The stateless Rohingya people have been subject to a campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing by the military government of Myanmar starting in 2016, despite international outcry. While the Rohingya are predominately Muslim, some practice Hinduism or Christianity.
As a minority religion within an already oppressed minority group, Rohingya Christians are often overlooked, and anti-Christian attacks and forced conversations are not unheard of. Many Rohingya refugees fled to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where authorities often fail to help.
The main culprit behind these abuses is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya rebel group that has carried out attacks against the Burmese military, as well as Rohingya Christians. Mohammad Sadeq, a Rohingya Christian, says that more than half of Rohingya Muslims is in favor of ARSA attacks against Rohingya Christians.
Peter Saiful, a pastor at the Bethel Church: Rohingya Christian Fellowship, estimates that about 70% of Rohingya Muslims support the anti-Christian attacks. He adds that this is “because of their Islamic scholars” who preach “hate speech against Christianity.”
At this point, it is rare for a Rohingya Muslim to be friends with a Rohingya Christian. “If they are found to be friends with the Rohingya Christians, they would be expelled from their community or they would be beaten to death by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army,” said Sadeq.
Most Rohingya Christians are people who converted to Christianity within the last 20 years. Sadeq says there are no Rohingya Catholics, and that any Rohingya Christians are either Fundamental Baptist or Evangelical.
Christians account for far less than one percent of the Rohingya population. Saiful knows of only 1,500 Christians among the one million Rohingya living in Bangladesh.
Christian victims have scant options. “They can go to the authorities, but justice is not done,” said Sadeq, who points out that — as the refugee camps are in the majority-Muslim nation of Bangladesh — the authorities are themselves Muslim. In some cases, Christian victims who complained had their ration cards confiscated.