The Rohingya: Exiled to nowhere

Photo by kisa kuyruk /

In recent weeks, the world has been horrified by the images and news coming out of Malaysia and Thailand, where thousands of migrants are stranded on boats, prevented from landing by governments unwilling to accept them as refugees. Most of the migrants are Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group from Myanmar (formerly Burma), but with smaller populations in other countries, including Bangladesh and Thailand.

The Rohingya have been victims of religious and ethnic persecution for years, especially in Myanmar, a country with a poor human rights record. Here are some sources and background to help religion reporters cover the crisis.

(Featured photo by kisa kuyruk /

Recent developments


Organizations focused on the crisis

  • Arakan Rohingya National Organisation

    The Arakan Rohingya National Organisation is a London-based advocacy group that seeks self-determination and other human rights for the Rohingya of Burma (Myanmar).

  • Arakan Rohingya Union

    The Arakan Rohingya Union is an umbrella organization of about two dozen international Rohingya groups that works for the minority group’s human and civil rights. Wakar Uddin is director general. Contact through the website.

  • Human Rights Watch

    Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization dedicated to protecting human rights worldwide. Contact HRW via one of its local offices.

    HRW maintains an office in Asia and several experts on Burma/Myanmar. Contact through the New York office.

    Contact: 212-290-4700.

International sources

National sources

  • Valerie Hoffman

    Valerie Hoffman is the head professor in the department of religion at the University of Illinois in Champaign, and the former director of its Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. She is an expert on Islam and in 2012 organized and participated in a conference on the Rohingya at the center.

  • Wakar Uddin

    Wakar Uddin is director general of the Arakan Rohingya Union, an umbrella organization of Rohingya advocacy groups worldwide. He is also a professor of plant pathology and microbiology at Penn State University.