Rohingya | What’s the Issue
- The Rohingyas are the ethnic Muslim minority in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.
- They are the people with no home or citizenship, face violence and lack basic rights such as access to healthcare, education and employment.
- While the Myanmar Government dispute the Rohingya people’s status as Burmese citizens, it’s indisputable that Rohingya people have been living in Burma for generations.
- Their displacement spreads across the Asia-Pacific and human rights abuse and exploitation is still ongoing. According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are rejected everywhere and hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people are now living in limbo across Southeast Asia.
- In 2012, an estimated 140,000 people were internally displaced within Burma, and almost 86,000 made the hazardous journey into neighbouring countries.
Rohingya | Why are they alienated?
The reasons for alienation have historic connotations: –
- Majority in Burma do not consider Rohingyas as an ethnically distinct group but Bengalis who illegally migrated to Myanmar. During British rule because of lax immigration laws Bengali Muslims flooded north west Burma and with installation of Chettiyars as administrators Burmese Buddhist peasants got displaced. This started the hatred towards Rohingyas too.
- A failed Rohingya secessionist uprising between 1948 and 1961 led to rise of persistent fears of Islamic encroachment on Buddhists and a 1982 citizenship law essentially legitimized discrimination against the Rohingya.
- Over the decades [the Rohingya], without legal or any other sort of protection, have been the victims of discrimination and violence by both the virulently anti-Muslim Rakhines, a Buddhist ethnic group, and agents of the central government.
- The 969 movement, where a group of Buddhist monks employed moral justification for a wave of anti-Muslim bloodshed massacred thousands of Rohingyas and displaced them.
- Now that the democratic government is going to come to power in Myanmar south east Asian countries which were abode for Rohingyas want them to return to Myanmar too. But the elected democratic government has been quiet on this issue. This adds to further complications.
Rohingya | India’s response
- According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees India has maintained an open door policy for all. It has opened its borders to the Rohingyas and granted them the same status as it has to the other refugees. However, there is no official statement made by the Indian leadership in the context of the Rohingya crisis with the Myanmar government.
- There are an estimated 36000 Rohingya Muslims in India today out of which only 9000 are registered and both UNHCR and India are striving hard to facilitate better facilities. Even Rohingyas feel safer in India and have the confidence of leading a quality life in India than in Myanmar.
- However, there is no legal recognition to the asylum seekers which makes it difficult for them to access basic services like hospitals, education etc. Also some are jailed for illegal entry.
Rohingya | What more can we do?
- First, we can contribute to the rescue efforts of the International Organization for Migration, which has already collected $I million for rescue efforts.
- Second, we can express displeasure against the atrocities on the Rohingya community, especially since we believes in democracy, liberalism and pluralism.