Introduction / History In historical perspective Rakhine, the home of the Rohingya people, is more a frontier province of eastern India than a province of Burma (now called Myanmar). From the very early days till the arrival of the Mongolians and Tibeto-Burmans in the 10th century, Rakhine was an Indian land with a population similar to Bengal. The spread of Islam in Rakhine during those early times and the impact of Islamic civilization on Rakhine particularly after Bengal became Muslim in 1203 A.D is well known.
According to history, Islam reached Rakhine in the late 8th century AD and attracted the local people to come to Islam en masse. Since then Islam played an important role towards the advancement of civilization in Rakhine. Muslims ruled Rakhine between 1430 to 1638. The system of government (Muslim sultanates) was common in those days. It was an independent Muslim kingdom in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Rohingya people have been violently persecuted by the Myanmar government, which calls them "non-natives" because they are not Buddhists like the Burmese majority. Thousands had to flee for their lives. Some of them have gone to Saudi Arabia for refuge.
Bordering Burma (Myanmar) to the east was Siam (now called Thailand), which has been solidly Theravada Buddhist since at least the 13th century. Today Thailand has freedom of religion. Because of a violent Muslim-led insurgency movement in their southern provinces, Thai officials are suspicious of any Muslims moving through that area.
Where are they located? Rohingya refugees flee the violent oppression of the government in Myanmar. Some of them wind up in deadly jungle camps, where women are commonly raped, and all Rohingyas risk being killed, even the children. Others are trafficked and wind up as virtual slaves on fishing boats.
What are their lives like? Most of the Rohingyas are hoping to relocate to Malaysia, not Thailand. Malaysia is a Muslim majority nation where they expect better treatment. But they must go through southern Thailand on the way, leaving them vulnerable to human traffickers, and Thai government officials who suspect them of aiding Muslim insurgents in that part of Thailand.
It is common for Rohingya refugees to be trafficked to the fishing industry, according to an article in The Guardian. These Rohingya men live as virtual slaves. Some of these Rohingyas are held for ransom. If their families does not pay the traffickers, the people are killed.
Some of the Rohingya people in Thailand have managed to start small businesses or get low-paying jobs. These people are probably the ones who have been in Thailand since the 1990s before there was a flood of refugees.
What are their beliefs? The Rohingya people are almost all Sunni Muslims. Their hope is in the teachings of the Qur'an and the Hadith, not in the person of Jesus Christ.
What are their needs? The Rohingya need a safe place to live. They need freedom from violent oppression, and the opportunity to earn a good living, and have their children get an education.
Prayer Points * Pray for the Rohingya people to find safe refuge in Thailand and other nations.
* Pray for them to find jobs and schools.
* The Rohingya people have very little chance to hear that Jesus Christ offers them much more than they could ever imagine. Pray for the Rohingyas in Thailand to be reached by the Lord through dreams, visions, and through Christian materials on the Internet. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.