WHO ARE THE ROHINGYAS?
- Stateless Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, thought to number about one million.
- Though they have been living in South East Asian countries for generations, Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens or one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups in the country; and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognize them as people.
- They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language in Myanmar.
BEGINNING OF THE CRISIS : 2012
Until 2011, Myanmar was ruled by military Junta and they has been accused of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state by the United Nations. Thousands of Rohingyas were deported to Bangladesh in the 70s and the citizenship law was enacted by the Junta.
After the political reforms in Myanmar, general elections occurred in 2015, but things changed little for the Rohingyas as the democratically elected government, headed by president Htin kyaw has been unwilling to grant citizenship to them.
In June 2012, sectarian violence began between Rohingyas and Rakhine’s Buddhist natives; following the rape and murder of Rakhine women in Rohingya dominated locality.
Another round of riots began in October 2012, due to which the government moved Rohingyas to refugee camps. This ethnic conflict flared up as religious violence spreading to other province of Myanmar. It was finally contained in 2013 after military intervention.
FACE OF THE FRESH CRISIS : AUGUST 25, 2017
Muslim militants in Myanmar staged a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine State on August 25. In the counter attack by army, at least 59 of the insurgents and 12 security personnel were killed.
ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The “clearance operation” to root out ARSA launched by the Myanmar military has once again affected the lives of Rohingya, many of whom have been living in relief camps since 2012. Thousands of people have been killed and women raped since then.
BANGLADESH- HAVING A PROBLEM WITH ROHINGYAS
Since late 2016, an estimated 87,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh. The influx has been increasing since August,25. Over 5 lakh Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh over last 2 decades and thus the prime minister of Bangladesh “Sheikh Hasina” is now clearly unwilling to take in more of them.
Bangladesh has opened it’s border upon UNHCR’s ( United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) request and continues to shelter the Rohingyas in over crowded refugee camps at Cox Bazaar.
INDIA’S TAKE ON THE CRISIS
According to articles positioned by the Government of India, Rohingyas constitute a threat to the national security of India.
In India, there are an estimated 40,000 Rohingyas, which are mostly Muslim, have already sought refuge under the United Nations’ auspices, after they escaped earlier brutality and atrocities by the Myanmar forces. The matter is in the Supreme Court. The Government of India has been battling it out in the Supreme Court with lawyers representing Rohingya petitioners. The government maintains its right to deport Rohingyas who may cross the border into India since the latest violence and exodus broke last year in August.
A three judge bench has delivered a statement saying children and women do not know anything about it and thus there is a need to balance national integrity and human rights.
India till now has managed to keep at a arm’s length from the issue. Its policy is treading tightly with Myanmar, out of geopolitical and geoeconomic concerns. But now, the situation appears to have settle down, India needs to look at the crisis in the eye.
Sources: Wikipedia, Hindustan Times (Delhi)