From a New York Times opinion piece titled "I Saw a Genocide in Slow Motion" (various paragraphs, not necessarily continuous, are quoted; emphasis added):

Sometimes Myanmar uses guns and machetes for ethnic cleansing, and that’s how Sono Wara earlier lost her mother and sister. But it also kills more subtly and secretly by regularly denying medical care and blocking humanitarian aid to Rohingya, and that’s why her twins are gone.

Entering Myanmar on a tourist visa, I was able to slip undetected into five Rohingya villages. What I found was a slow-motion genocide. The massacres and machete attacks of last August are over for now, but Rohingya remain confined to their villages — and to a huge concentration camp — and are systematically denied most education and medical care.

Scholars at Yale University and the U.S. Holocaust Museum have already warned that this may be genocide, as has the United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. This genocide sometimes consists of violent attacks, but now mostly of denying food or medical care.

Does Myanmar "systematically" deny the following to Rohingya?

  1. Medical care
  2. Humanitarian aid
  3. Education
  4. Food
  • 5
    If you want to you could say Myanmar is systematically denying education and medical care to its own citizens as it's one of the poorest countries, with 0.02 % of the world wealth, for comparison Australia has 100 times the wealth and half the population
    – daniel
    May 19, 2019 at 5:46
  • @daniel Great point! This is something that should be presented in an answer. I am asking the question exactly as it appears in the article (or at least similarly). May 19, 2019 at 6:50
  • 3
    I am fairly sure that no country helps those it is oppressing. Would first hand experiences from rohingya work? May 19, 2019 at 6:52
  • 2
    "You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog," Wirathu said, referring to Muslims. "If we are weak," he said, "our land will become Muslim."
    – daniel
    May 19, 2019 at 7:28
  • 5
    The most authoritative answer would probably come from charities attempting to aid these people -- does the government block their efforts. May 19, 2019 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


It depends how you want to define that, but the trend over the past couple of decades has been toward increased marginalization of Rohingya, certainly in education. It's not clear if there is/was a trend in healthcare, but Rohingya definitely faced discrimination in that respect too.

The Myanmar government doesn't appear to have provided much of anything by itself or without nudging; e.g. the largest IDP camp inside Myanmar for Rohingya (~3000 people, and which worked more like a concentration camp because the Rohingya were not allowed to leave it without permission) had no doctor until an EU assistance programme paid for one.

According to accounts from the camp, prior to the doctor's arrival at least 20 women died in child labor inside the camp. However, once the EU-sponsored doctor starting working there, the Myanmar government did allow external referrals (e.g. to hospitals in Sittwe) for cases that could not be handled locally inside the camp.

Likewise, Amnesty reported:

While the quality of hospitals and clinics in Rakhine State is generally poor for all communities, Rohingya face serious and often life-threatening barriers in accessing health care.

Rohingya are denied access to Sittwe hospital, the highest-quality medical facility in Rakhine State, except for in extremely acute cases. Even then they require authorization from the Rakhine State authorities and travel under police escort. In northern Rakhine State, many see no choice but to travel to Bangladesh to access the health care they need, but this trip can often be prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthiest families.

One man in his 50s said: “I wanted to go to Sittwe hospital for medical treatment, but it’s forbidden, the hospital staff told me I couldn’t go to there for my own safety and said I needed to go to Bangladesh for treatment. It cost a lot of money. My brother has many paddy fields and oxen and he had to sell some of these to pay for the travel. I was lucky… most people cannot afford this, so they just end up dying.”

Outside of northern Rakhine State, only a few medical facilities are accessible for Rohingyas. There, they are kept in separate “Muslim wards” which are guarded by police. One aid worker compared one such ward to a “prison hospital”.

Several Rohingya described how they had to pay bribes to hospital staff and police guards if they wanted to call family members or purchase food from outside. Others avoided hospitals altogether – fearing abuses by doctors and nurses, or thinking they would not be offered care at all.

And on education

Since 2012, Myanmar authorities have tightened restrictions on Rohingyas’ access to education. In large parts of Rakhine State, Rohingya children are no longer allowed into previously mixed government schools at all, while government teachers often refuse to travel to Muslim areas.

With higher education largely off limits for Rohingya, many people Amnesty International spoke to expressed a sense of despair and hopelessness about the future.

The 2019 UNHCR (preliminary) report (which is mostly based on what refugees said, because Myanmar kicked out the UN representatives) says

Rohingya consistently reported that lack of access to fundamental services, including health care, represents one of the most significant challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. Interviewees residing in Rakhine stressed that, because of the restrictions on movement, fear for their personal safety, discriminatory practices at health-care facilities, including segregation and refusals by doctors and nurses to treat Muslim patients, and extortion at checkpoints and medical centres, Rohingya do not have access to health centres to seek treatment, including in cases of emergency. Limited capacity in dealing with cases of sexual and gender-based violence and minimal presence of psychosocial counselling services further aggravate the plight of victims of such violence. Limitations imposed on non-governmental humanitarian organizations to travel to villages in northern Rakhine further undermine the community’s access to services and humanitarian aid.


There are no Rohingya within the General Administration Department, the police, the judiciary or the education or health systems. [...]

[F]ormer Rohingya civil servants explained that applications by Rohingya for teaching positions were blocked from the early 1990s and that only those who already had a job were allowed to exercise it. Retirements and the ban on recruitment of new Rohingya teachers led to their complete absence from the education system by 2015. Refugees reported that the same pattern applied to other public sectors, adding that educated and more affluent members of the community who were not killed in the violence since 2012 had left Myanmar to protect their families.

A number of refugees interviewed by OHCHR expressed their concern that the lack of representation of the Rohingya had had a devastating impact on the future of the community at various levels, particularly on education. The absence of Rohingya teachers forced families to send children to ethnic Rakhine schools, where they were marginalized and ignored. To mitigate such circumstances, Rohingya families in Rakhine State bore the economic burden of subsidizing salaries of community members to provide some form of education to their children. Such education, however, was not recognized by the Government. In the long term, the lack of formal accreditation further aggravated the marginalization of the community

  • Thanks for answering! Is this supposed to mean Myanmar does not deny medical care to Rohingya? May 19, 2019 at 20:42
  • 1
    @BarryHarrison - I don't see how you could arrive at that conclusion. May 20, 2019 at 18:12
  • @DanielRHicks From Fizz: "However, once the EU-sponsored doctor starting working there, the Myanmar government did allow external referrals (e.g. to hospitals in Sittwe) for cases that could not be handled locally inside the camp." From Amnesty: "Outside of northern Rakhine State, only a few medical facilities are accessible for Rohingyas. There, they are kept in separate “Muslim wards” which are guarded by police. One aid worker compared one such ward to a “prison hospital”." Maybe just me, but Fizz seems to portray Myanmar in a more positive tone where medical care isn't forbidden. May 20, 2019 at 18:37
  • @BarryHarrison - Not forbidden, just systematically obstructed. May 20, 2019 at 20:18
  • @DanielRHicks OK, thanks for clarifying this. I guess the claim is true for both medical care and education then. May 20, 2019 at 20:27

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