The Rohingya are a Muslim majority people who have been forced to flee to the border of Bangladesh — approximately 700,000 people (90% of Rohingya in Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar) have left their homes due to the recent conflict. Many of these people are only able to carry what they have on them at the time. Though this conflict is long-standing, the most recent one was spurred off by ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army), a militant Rohingya group, and their attacks on police and military personnel. The government responded in kind with overwhelming force, using rape as a weapon, killing thousands of children under the age of five, torture, burning the faces off of bodies so that families could not identify them — just to name a few of the war crimes committed against civilians.

The Burmese government sold the offensive to the international community as a fight against Islamic extremism, though few major players bought into that idea. There were too many documented reports from a whole myriad of sources getting information off the ground that directly contradicted this.

What’s more is that the Burmese government has now began to shift their push to the Kachin people, and some estimates say that over 90% of them are Christian. Of course, the state-run media outlets and military officials (who have very separate control from the elected government) have their own, new narratives. They are saying that the Kachin Independence Organisation has nulled their treaty as they continuously refuse to assimilate into Burmese control, and instead of further negotiations, the Burma Army began yet another violent offensive. They will likely not try to convince anyone of Christian extremists, as the international community would probably not buy it as some bought the Muslim extremist angle.

Why did the Rohingya get so much more media coverage than the Kachin?

The Rohingya got more international attention simply because of the sheer numbers of people involved. While thousands upon thousands of displaced Kachin might make international news if it happened independently, the fact that it happened after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were displaced sort of makes it less impactful in the headlines.

The Rohingya are also not considered Burmese by the Burmese government, despite the fact that they have been there for generations and even held seats in parliament. Still, the Kachin are considered to be under the Burma government’s purview, though they view their land as their own. This changes the dynamic of the conflict and makes it feel as if the Kachin is just another long-standing conflict between internal powers, and therefore nothing new.

Regardless, the Kachin say that an eighth of their entire population has already been displaced due to the recent violence.

Why does the Burmese government keep attacking these ethnic groups?