Home Current Affairs The appalling condition of Rohingya refugees: A humanitarian crisis

The appalling condition of Rohingya refugees: A humanitarian crisis

The Rohingyas are an ethnic group, the majority of whom are Muslims. They have been living in a Buddhist-majority country, Myanmar since 12th century, as per the historical evidence collected. But why are they shunted out now?

In a recent letter sent by the External Affairs Minister of India, S. Jaishankar to Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, it was claimed that India supports the “fast” repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. As per reports, the original content of the letter sent by India had the following words- “urgency of this issue and an early, safe and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons from Rakhine are in the collective interest of all”. However, as per the press release issued by the Government of Bangladesh, corroborated with the statement from Mohammed Touhidul Islam [a senior information officer of the foreign ministry of Bangladesh]- “India supports the repatriation of the Rohingya community”.

Lately, India has received a lot of criticism from the Bangladesh government for lending support to Rohingya refugees. It has been claimed by the Bangladesh government on several occasions that India is not extending greater support to Bangladesh in compelling the Myanmar government to take back the Rohingya refugees. The misquotation of the Indian External Affairs Minister’s statement poses a great risk for the diplomatic relations of India with its neighboring countries.

A peek into the historically imposed systematic torture against Rohingyas

The Rohingyas are an ethnic group, the majority of whom are Muslims. They have been living in a Buddhist-majority country, Myanmar since 12th century, as per the historical evidence collected. They are not considered among the 135 recognized ethnic groups in Myanmar. They speak the language of Rohingya or Ruaingga. Ethnic cleansing against this community has been prevalent for decades by the state military. The Rohingyas mostly occupy the western coastal state of Rakhine, which is one of the poorest states of Myanmar; it lacks basic livable conditions and necessities required for sustaining a healthy life.

Though ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya community has been prevalent before Independence of India, these people have been denied citizenship post the military coup established in the state in 1982. During the British colonial rule in India, Myanmar was a province of India; most of the laborers had fled to the state of Myanmar at that time. As it was a province of India, this act of migration was recognized as internal displacement. The government in Myanmar had recognized the migration during British colonial rule as ‘illegal’, hence, does not grant citizenship on that basis to the Rohingya community. People belonging to the minority group of Rohingya are denied by the military to leave the land without permission from the state.

The Buddhists and the Rohingyas

The Buddhists do not associate the term ‘Rohingya’ with Rohingya refugees due to political reasons. However, mass ethnic cleansing has been going on for decades. The government has time and again reported that the military is not involved in any kind of human rights violation against the people of Rakhine; and it does not recognize the term ‘Rohingya’ while referring to the refugee crisis – instead refers to them as the Rakhine people.

Journalists and international media aren’t allowed to the part occupied by Rohingya refugees, and very limited is known about it. As per the Amnesty and Human Rights Watch’s report, the military has been involved in ethnic cleansing to such an extent that mass shootings have been observed against this minority groups who are often unarmed; including the fact that most of the buildings have been totally or partially destroyed and any evidence of ethnic cleansing against the refugees has been removed completely.

Post 2015/2016, Rohingya refugees have been on a constant move to nearby countries in search of a safe place to survive. When state representative, Aung San Sunn ki was asked to appear before the international community to deal with the Rohingya refugee crisis, she did not recognize the term Rohingya and instead referred to them as ‘Rakhine’ people; and she along with many others from the government has been constantly referring to the Rohingya refugees as armed terrorists, who are constantly engaged in disrupting the peace in the country; hence, the military has only been trying to fight against the ‘terrorists’.

Need for attention of the international community

Owing to the diplomatic relations with the neighboring countries, India has tried not to completely sideline any of the countries, like Myanmar due to military strategic importance. Well, owing to that, claims like India supporting faster repatriation of the Rohingya Refugees can cost a lot to India at the international level. Most of the Rohingya refugees who have been displaced have been residing in large numbers in countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. Bangladesh, though has allowed the refugees to stay temporarily in camps, has pushed most of these refugees to an island, which is reported by the Human Rights Watch as inhabitable and that it gets flooded most often.

Countries must come together in protecting the rights of the displaced minority Rohingya refugees, as they face the fear of persecution in Myanmar. Alongside this development, Myanmar is a Buddhist majority country, has a constant backing by the Chinese government; and considering the recent developments at the Ladakh border where Indian army had a face-off with the Chinese soldiers, it is a crucial time for India to be cautious and alert from all sides.

The Rohingya refugees are living in a deplorable state and considering the current pandemic that has over arched the entire world, their living conditions would only aid in worsening the situation. Therefore, the international community must come forward during such times of difficulty to help these refugees against possible atrocities met to them by hostile authorities; otherwise, not just the ethnic cleansing but untimely lack of aid to justice would contribute to their extinction.

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