The Rohingya, or Roh, are the largest Muslim people group in Myanmar. Over 1 million live in Myanmar's northern Rakhine (Arakan) State, along the border with Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. There is evidence that Muslims have had a presence in Rakhine State for over 1000 years.
The Roh have experienced great persecution. In 1978 and 1992, many Roh fled as refugees to Bangladesh. Although most refugees have since returned, the issues spurring their flight have yet to be resolved. At the present time, the Union of Myanmar considers the Roh to be stateless, and will not grant them identity papers. According to a press release from the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1992), "Historically, there has never been a Rohingya race in Myanmar." Despite their long history in Myanmar, the Roh are considered illegal immigrants.
The Roh in Myanmar face strict laws. They are not allowed to travel freely from village to village. They may only marry other Rohingya. The government also restricts their educational options. In 2005, students at Sittwe University, Rakhine State's primary institution, were forced to discontinue their studies. Similar restrictions have now spread throughout Rakhine State. The Roh also face random taxation, confiscation of land and cattle and forced labor. Added to these miseries are economic insecurity and extreme poverty.
Islam is an important part of Rohingya ethnic identity. Because the government restricts educational opportunities for the Roh, many pursue fundamental Islamic studies as their only educational option.
- Pray that followers of Jesus from other ethnic groups in Myanmar would initiate Christ-like relationships with the Roh, demonstrating God's love through words and actions.
- Pray for followers of Jesus who work among the Roh, for wisdom, protection and perseverance as they reach out in love and share the Good News. Pray for more followers of Jesus to find ways to serve the Roh.
- Pray that the Roh, who have been denied an identity by the Myanmar government, would find their identity in Christ.
- Pray for the leaders of the Myanmar government to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and to have mercy on people like the Roh.
- Pray that literature that has been produced for the Roh would be used fruitfully. Pray for those involved in translating and publishing further resources.
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