Rohingya are a minority ethnic group that belongs to the Rakhine state in Myanmar, most of them are Muslims and some are Hindus. According to the United nations, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted ethnic minorities in the world.
Rohingya Muslims are residents of the Rakhine state of Myanmar. The Rohingya are the Minorities in Myanmar which is a follower of Buddhism. Their total population is close to 15-20 lakhs in the whole world. Of these, nearly 12 lakh Rohingya Muslims still living in Myanmar while the remaining refugees are spread all over the world. Rohingya Muslims live as refugees in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and America. Some Rohingya Muslims are also living in Saudi Arabia. According to the data available with the Government of India, more than 40,000 Rohingyas are living illegally in India alone. Most Rohingyas are stateless as the Myanmar government refuses to acknowledge them as their citizens nor are they considered as an ethnic group that belongs to the country.
The Rohingya community has been the residents of Burma since the 8th Century, despite this, they are denied the citizenship of the nation. The beginning of the armed struggle of the Rohingya Muslims story goes back to the times of the World War II. During that time, India, under the British rule had prepared Rohingyaon to attack the armed Japanese army which was then rapidly increasing towards India. Gradually this war of the Rohingyas got directed towards the local Buddhist residents of the region and the situation of war within the country emerged.
After liberation from the British rule, the resistance of Rohingya was increased during the period of 1947-48 and they wanted to merge the province which remained in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). But after the action taken by Burma’s army, their movement became weak. Since then, nearly 7 lakh Rohingya Muslims are living illegally in southeastern Bangladesh. Rohingyas have faced military action in Myanmar during the year 1978, 1991-92, 2012, 2015, 2016-17. According to the Special Investigators of the United Nations, Myanmar wants to expel the entire Rohingya population out of the country.
A law passes in 1982 denies them citizenship as they are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.The recent violent state led the campaign in Aug in Myanmar led thousands of Rohingyas to take refuge in neighbouring countries such as India and Bangladesh killing more than 400 people in the violence. According to the US reports around 164,000 Rohingyas have fled since Aug 25.
State counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy in Myanmar is being widely criticised for failing to condemn the prolonged violence against Rohingyas. She during an interview the media said that using the word ethnic cleansing for the drive against the Rohingyas is too strong an expression to use.
After the recent action taken by the Myanmar government to drive out the illegal immigrants, the Rohingyas out from their nation, voices are rising in support of the abused minorities all over the world. Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari of the Delhi Jama Masjid had asked all Islamic countries of the world to break their silence on this issue. He wrote a letter to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia asking for help on this subject and asked all 57 Islamic countries of the world to come forward. The group of Rohingya Muslims close to 20 from Saudi Arabia had called for an armed movement against Myanmar government and the army, and due to this, the situation in Myanmar is becoming uncontrollable today.
India’s stand on the Rohingyas issue is also very clear. On Sep 4 the Supreme Court deferred a plea made by two Rohingya refugees, who had challenged the government’s decision to deport them back to Myanmar. The court’s decision threatens the extremely vulnerable status of the refugees. The Centre has not given any assurance that it will not deport the refugees until the next court hearing. Deputy Interior Minister Kiren Rijiju in Aug had said that the government plan to deport at least 40,000 Rohingyas that are living in India without proper documentation. He has said that “as far as we are concerned they are all illegal immigrants, they have no basis to live here. Anybody who is an illegal migrant will be deported.”
In Aug the Home ministry asked all the states to begin the process of identifying and deporting Rohingyas. The reason stated by the Centre to deport the Rohingyas was that according to them the illegal immigrants are likely to get recruited by the terrorist organisations and that they pose a threat to the national security.
As per the Indian Constitution, India does not have any law pertaining to refugees. It has not signed the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees or the 1967 protocol, which bars the nations from expelling the refugees. The principle of non-refoulment which says that the refugees cannot be sent back to a country where their life is under threat is today a part of the customary international law. Which means that it is mandatory for every nation regardless of whether they have signed the UN Refugee Convention or not.
The two Rohingyas who had recently filed a plea in the supreme court stated that India by deferring their plea is ratifying the universal declaration of Human Rights which also includes the principle of non-refoulment. The Indian Constitution also grants the refugees their right to equality under Article 14 and the right to liberty under article 21 and article 51(c). The two pleading Rohingyas had put up their point saying that by deporting the Rohingya refugees India will be violating international law and its own constitution.
India has historically offered refuge to Tibetans, Afghans, Pakistanis, Bengalis and Sri Lankan Tamils but there is a recent shift towards policies regarding the refugees as far as India is concerned. The government led by Narendra Modi had last year had adopted new rules making it easier for religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to stay in India without proper documents, but significantly Myanmar was not included in the list. Could the Myanmar refugees prominently being Muslims be the possible reason for this expulsion?
RSS leader Rakesh Sinha claims that all Rohingyas are associated with Islamic terrorism. He said that “India has a long tradition to give shelter to those who are a victim of any kind of persecution. We have given the shelter to the Jews and the Parsis and they have adapted and integrated themselves in the Indian Society. But as far as the Rohingya group is concerned their association with the Islamic terrorist organisation is well known all over the world.”
This statement by the RSS leader clearly underlines the mentality that India is bearing towards the Rohingya. Meanwhile, another Right Wing activist has accused Rohingya refugees in Jammu of engaging in crime, but according to the research done, the police had no record of such illegal activities.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said that he felt bad for the atrocities that the Rohingyas are bearing and also added that Lord Buddha would have definitely helped the Rohingyas. In his statement to the reporters, the Dalai Lama said that “Those people..you see..sort of harassing some Muslims. Then they should remember, Buddha, in such circumstances, would have definitely helped those poor Muslims.”
Thousands of supporters of Pakistan’s main Islamic Jamaat-e-Islami party also gathered in Karachi sloganeering against the Myanmar government for its treatment towards the Rohingya community.
While Malaysia has extended its help to the fleeing refugees in search of shelter for the time being. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said the country will send a humanitarian mission to help refugees seeking shelter at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Myanmar had also expressed his concern over the attacks on Rohingyas. he had said that “We share your concerns about extremist violence in Rakhine state and the violence against security forces and also how innocent lives have been affected. We hope that all stakeholders together can find a way out in which unity and territorial integrity of Myanmar is respected.” Protests on the issue of atrocities on Rohingya Muslims can be witnessed all over India. Even after the clear statement of the Home Ministry, the opposition parties of the country want the government to express their attitude towards this issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an international level leader and his attitude on this issue is significant.
According to the recent reports, nearly 500 Hindus have arrived in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh seeking refuge from the violence prevailing back at home in Myanmar. Just because the Rohingyas are Muslims it is not necessary that they are terrorists or may be terrorists in future. They have the right to live and if driven put by all nations, they will some day turn out to violent taking out their frustration of being rejected time and again and that may be the time when even a Hindu Rohingya may turn violent and become a terrorist. Malaysia and Bangladesh are willing to extend their help to the Rohingyas, but before how soon the next strike will be played against the Community again to declare them as illegal immigrants and drive them out?