Atrocities against Rohingya Muslims continue, salvation not in sight

Siding with genocide?

Society

September 7, 2017

/ By / Kolkata



Crossing the border with hope in their hearts (CC BY-ND 2.0) : Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, flickr

Crossing the border with hope in their hearts
(CC BY-ND 2.0) : Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, flickr

It has been nothing but a witch-hunt that has left the Rohingya Muslims homeless having had to flee Myanmar over the past 10 days. Reportedly, more than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims had to flee the Burmese territory to survive the ordeals of a seeming exodus.

As questions are being raised in every corner of the world about the reported atrocities on the Rohingyas, the Burmese government remains mum on claims of an ‘ethnic cleansing’.  When horrifying images of the atrocities committed on fleeing Rohingyas are going viral on the internet, the Myanmar army has consolidated its position of persecution against the minority.

The trigger

It is believed that the mass exodus of Rohingyas was triggered on August 25, when members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a local militant group, attacked dozens of police posts. In retaliation, the Burmese army claimed to have killed 370 fighters linked to the group, though Rohingya activists said that among those killed several were not fighters and that the number of dead would rise.

However, the issue dates back to decades when large displacements were observed in 2012 after villages were reportedly burnt down, with Human Rights Watch estimating numbers at 120,000. In 2016 nine police officers were killed by armed men who were said to be Muslims. This resulted in mass displacement and killings.

Prize for peace

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar’s State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi stated on Thursday that there is a similarity between Rohingya and Kashmir issue upon Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘diplomatic’ visit to Myanmar. Suu Kyi said, “We are facing the same problem as India is facing in Kashmir. We have to take care of innocent citizens as our resources are not as adequate as required, but we try our best and make ensure that every citizen is entitled to the protection of the law.”

However, amidst all the hoopla that has got the attention of some of the major Human Rights groups, Suu Kyi dismissed the problem as a misinformation campaign.

India, minority and deportation

The Centre likely to side with the deportation of the Rohingyas and ask the Supreme Court to look into the Union Home Ministry’s instructions to states and Union territories on migrant deportation which is allegedly for all undocumented refugees staying in India and not just Rohingyas. The Supreme Court had sought the stand of the government on a petition challenging the ministry’s directions to deport illegal Rohingya immigrants, who are mostly Muslims, back to Myanmar. The issue is likely to be taken up on September 11 when the Centre is expected to file its reply.  Sources report that the Home Ministry is unlikely to give any undertaking to either stop deportation of illegal migrants or dismantle the task force to identify illegal migrants, set-up in states on its directions. A major news source further reports that the government may also provide data on illegal migrants to support its argument before the apex court and reiterate its position that illegal migrants infringe on the rights of citizens.

Incidentally, there have been no mentions of the issue in the Government’s press release dated September 6,  titled “India-Myanmar Joint Statement issued on the occasion of the State Visit of Prime Minister of India to Myanmar (September 5-7, 2017).”

The Burmese Government has always refused to accept the Rohingyas as their own and have insisted on calling them “Bengali Muslims” which simply implied that they are illegal immigrants. In 2013, Win Myaing, the official spokesperson of the Rakhine State Government said, “How can it be ethnic cleansing? They are not an ethnic group.”

As landmines are being placed in the path of the hungry, homeless Rohingya refugees along the Myanmar border, aid groups are struggling to help as many as 146,000 Rohingyas managing to arrive in Bangladesh.

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