No Man’s Land – Life Of The Stateless Rohingya Muslims

The Rohingya people are an ethnic group comprising mainly of Muslims who have been residing in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar, formerly known as Arakan. The religion of the Rohingya is mostly a variation of Sunni and the Rohingya have been living in Arakan for time immemorial. Myanmar is a Buddhist majority country, with a significant percentage of Muslim minority. While the Muslims worked with the Government in 1948-1963, situations worsened for them only in the year 1982, when they were denied the citizenship under the Burmese regulations wherein they had to prove their ancestry from before 1823. The Rohingya generally lacked such documents as their previous families also were denied of citizenship. This affected many Muslims in Myanmar even though they have been residing  in Myanmar for several generations.

In 2015 crisis, over half a million of the population migrated to the neighbouring countries to escape the Burma’s security forces campaign of ethnic cleansing. The atrocities carried out by the Burmese police included mass-killing, sexual harassment, arson and crimes against humanity. But such allegations were denied by the Myanmar Government. A total of 362 villages have been destroyed by the security forces in the name of ethnic cleaning campaign which now, is taking the shape of Genocide, to strangle Rohingyas completely from their state.
Since late August 2018, more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to escape the brutality of the Myanmar forces. Military and security personnels have repeatedly denied such allegations, which contradicts the evidences and witnesses found. With forced restrictions on movement and lack of access to basic needs, Rohingya Muslims are facing a dire humanitarian condition.According to the UN human rights chief, “The continuing Myanmar military operations appears to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Rohingya Muslims are considered to be the world’s most persecuted people. Most of the Rohingya Muslims have fled north towards Bangladesh, where they live in difficult conditions in jerry-built camps close to the Bangladesh borders. State Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi and her government do not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group and have blamed violence in Rakhine and the following subsequent military crackdowns, on those they call “terrorists”. Reports have revealed that there is an increase in ghettoization, sporadic massacres, and restriction on the movement of Rohingyas.By now, the world is aware about the terrifying and inhuman suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Recently, there is panic spread among them as they are stuck in between the fights of the Myanmar army and Arakan army. The security build-up and daily gunshots have instilled panic within them.In mid-November, there was an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh that the refugees are supposed to go back. But the major problem here is that no one has really enquired what the Rohingyas want. Their fate is decided by the superiors and are often stripped off the right to their own desire and will.

In reality, the so-called repatriation is just a strategy laid down by the Myanmar government to whitewash or perform the inhuman practice of genocide and escape without any responsibility or accountability,as they have done before. This decision is only taken because of the undue pressure from international community regarding the humanitarian crisis of Rohingya Muslims, without actually consulting or knowing their desires, rights, requirements and security. Myanmar is unlikely return the refugees their homes back as most of them were burnt down by them during its campaign of ethnic cleansing. Some believe that such an action was taken due to projects contracted with the Chinese government. over these Rohingya lands.It is alleged that  Myanmar Govt has tricked some into believing that the living arrangments in the camps are temporary, until they are allowed to return to their homes once they rebuilt. Such false hopes are spread through collaborators and international agencies which are seeking to gain contracts with the state lands.

If the refugees are sent back, the intensity and significance of this crisis will be dwindled in the eyes of international organisations like the UN, and again, the repeated cycle of violence shall be forced upon the Rohingya Muslims which in turn may lead to a genocide of the entire population.The Rohingyas should return to their lands only if their requirements are fulfilled-  restore their citizenship, label them as indigenous group, give them their land back with restored buildings and finally, international protection to the Rohingya areas. The international community must end the practice of impunity- that is to have the Myanmar military officials and the government reveal their heinous crimes, follow a suitable procedure of punishment and restore the lost essence of justice. It is very important that the Rohingya people receive international protection to prevent a repetition of the inhuman and disregarded cycle of violence. As the history of the past 40 years have taught us, official promises in Myanmar provide no guarantees of security or survival, let alone equal rights.

Picture Source: The Asian Age

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