The Rohingya crisis explained
Military crackdown on “Islamist jihadists” in the Rakhine State after three border security posts came under attack on October 9 , as claimed by the military . This has given rise to a new wave of migration of Rohingyas to neighbouring countries.
- Rohingyas have often been called the most persecuted minorities in the World.
- They represent a muslim minority that primarily resides in Rakhine State (western Myanmar)
- Hundreds of people have already died this year while over 30,000 have been displaced.
- 40000-50000 rohingyas are living in india , 13000 are registered with UNHCR. Rohingyas crossing over from Bangladesh to India prefer the camps in Jammu, Hyderabad and Delhi because of religious similarity and economic opportunity.
- According to the United Nations by 2015 ,120,000 of them have been forced to flee Myanmar in the last three years
- They migrate mostly towards indonesia,thailand,malaysia and bangladesh.
- There are now 30,000 documented Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh , but their numbers go above 3-4lakh.
- The Rohingya people are considered “stateless entities”, as the Myanmar government has been refusing to recognise them as one of the ethnic groups of the country.
- The government sees them as Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh who migrated there during the colonial period (and continue to do so)
- The Rohingya see themselves as Muslim natives of Arakan (Rakhine), a state in Myanmar.
- Bengali Muslims in Bangladesh and India do not see the Rohingya as their kin in any respect.
- They are not considered Burmese citizens under the Citizenship Law for the last four decades .Hence,they lack legal protection from the Government of Myanmar.
- Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar call Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
- They are regarded as mere refugees from Bangladesh and face strong hostility in there .
- None of the involved states is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, nor its 1967 Protocol.
- Many rohingyas are confused with bangladeshis who are migrating because of economic reasons.
Problems faced by Rohingyas
- Rohingyas have lived in poverty in Western Myanmar for decades. They have no freedom of movement, access to healthcare facilities or education and their right to vote was revoked earlier in 2015
- The lack of a formal regional asylum framework has made the Rohingyas emergency more acute and tragic.
- Thousands of starving men, women and children remain stranded for months at sea on fragile vessels whenever their traffickers left them or countries refused to take them in.
- There are reports of the discovery of the mass graves of trafficked people in Thailand and Malaysia.
- There are many cases when the traffickers took the migrants lending them in Thailand and moved them across the Malaysian border, usually after being tortured until their families paid a ransom.
- Reports of sale of trafficked migrants as slaves to Thai fishing vessels to produce sea food.
- The ‘global war on terror’ has legitimised anti-Muslim sentiments , attacks or indifference towards them.
Response from states Involved
- Myanmar’s government has this year set up an advisory panel headed by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to find “lasting solutions” to the conflict in Rakhine state.
- Resettlement plan being put to practice by the Myanmarese government demands proof of residence for the past 60 years before granting them naturalised citizenship .
- Bangladesh- has tightened border patrols in the face of the influx of the refugees and has asked Myanmar to take them back.
- Australia – has been refusing to take the rohingyas coming from indonesia , refused settlement to earlier migrants who had arrived by boat.
- New NLD government in Myanmar has been largely ineffective in tackling internal security and humanitarian issues . The army still remains a powerful institution.
There has never been a word from indian side towards the plight of Rohingyas.
- Need of regional refugee framework , where all countries have to come to a consensus with realisation that though there is a pull factor in determining their destination they are risking life at sea for an uncertain future which is not a very attractive prospect.
- Any refugee, whose grant of asylum has been approved, should be given a formal recognition of his/her asylum status along with an identity document , residence permits , employment permits.
- Social sensitization of the people of Myanmar, of the neighbouring countries towards the plight of these people is a necessary step.