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Rohingya are a Muslim
majority ethnic group, they are widely regarded as the “world’s most persecuted minority”1
and unfortunately, rightly so too. Rohingyas lived in an independent kingdom of
Arakan during 8th Century which is now in the Rakhine State in
modern day Myanmar.In Myanmar in 1982, a new citizenship law came in effect
which didn’t recognized them as a part of Myanmar’s official 135 ethnic groups
which effectively rendered them stateless.
They are seen as illegal Bengali immigrants and denied access to basic
amenities such as health services and livelihood. And if Rohingya need
citizenship under the above stated citizenship law they must prove that they
lived in Myanmar for 60 years, which is further, augmented by the fact they are
often denied paper work to even file for citizenship.2                           While tension has
been building for years, it culminated in 2012 when deadly violence erupted in
Arakan state of Myanmar when Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims clashed,
these clashes were again resumed in October but with even more intensity as the
local Arakanese political operatives and the Buddhist monkhood are said to have
incited the attacks on Rohingya Muslims community these attacks in some
instances have been directly supported by state security forces. According to
Human Rights Watch violence since June 2012 has displaced at least 125,000 Rohingyas to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)
camps. Access to amenities such as healthcare is desperately needed by people
in these camps .In the Aung Mingalar area of Sittwe, the Arakan State capital,
the government has imposed such severe restrictions on the remaining Muslim
residents that they are effectively locked up in their own neighborhood. United
Nations officials have been denied access to them3.All this led them to
flee from their own country to various other countries such as Bangladesh,
India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.But unfortunately, mishap doesn’t end
here as some of these countries refuse to allow Rohingyas and those few who
actually do end up in these countries are further subjected to various problems
and are often treated worse than prisoners. According to UN estimates,
Bangladesh (one of the poorest countries in the world) has taken in some 370,000 Rohingya
as refugees4;
this poses a serious burden on Bangladesh’s economy. Bangladesh accepting Rohingya
refugees shows a humanitarian side which is missing from much larger economies
like India. While some say that it is due to the serious economic burden that
it puts or that allowing refugees is a threat to national security these claims
are often baseless, rather what is most surprising is that if we take a look at
the latest amendment brought in Citizenship Bill it says amends the Citizenship
Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis
and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for
citizenship, Muslims immigrants (let alone Rohingya Muslims) not eligible for
citizenship this kind of hypocrisy is what divides a nation5.
Even if we look past this India is not allowing Rohingyas as refugees and is
forcefully returning them to their home where certain doom awaits them.On
August 9, 2017, the Indian minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju,
told the parliament that the government has issued detailed instructions
for deportation of illegal foreign nationals including Rohingya6.
This comes as a shock because it is a fundamental principle of customary
international law, non-refoulement is binding on all states whether or not they
have signed the UN Refugee Convention7,
to which India is not a signatory.The Foreigners Act (1946) and the
Registration of Foreigners Act (1939) currently govern the entry and exit of
all refugees, treating them as foreigners without due consideration of their
special circumstances, while Over 13,000 Rohingya refugees are registered with
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in India8,
but still the Indian Government is reluctant to provide basic amenities to
these refugees, which is most disheartening.                         Now, remains the
question what can be done? While the best course of Action is for the
international community to come together and demand from Myanmar government to
not run away from its responsibilities especially since the inhumane treatment
of the Rohingyas has tarnished the image of Myanmar’s civilian leader and
Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, once a famously unflinching
defender of human rights and darling of the West. Her government is in power it
is her duty to protect the rights of minority, and in the meantime countries
should provide these refugees with all basic amenities and opportunities to
grow and prosper. But, this doesn’t seem to be the case, as Southeast Asia is
now an arena of geopolitical competition between China and its rivals: mainly
the United States, India and Japan. All are battling for influence. Both China
and India have made public statements of support for Myanmar’s government in
the current crisis. In that context, diplomatic pressure or economic sanctions
imposed by Europe or the United States will only have one effect – to push
Myanmar towards China, so chance of all international communities coming
together is bleak.According to Bill Hayton from Chatham House,the only likely
outcome of the crisis is the near-permanent presence of hundreds of thousands
of Rohingya along the Bangladesh border.9

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