The Rohingya is an indigenous Muslim community in Arakan (renamed by the military as Rakhine State in 1974). Despite of being peace-loving and law-abiding people, they are not tolerated in Buddhist Burma/Myanmar. They are oppressed and persecuted beyond one’s imagination based on their ethnicity, religion and appearance. This was done in order to rid Arakan of the Muslim population.[i]
“The United Nations has described them as the world’s most persecuted minority in most danger of extinction.”
And UN Human Right Chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein said “The situation seems like a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,”[ii]
Root Cause of the Crisis
What the Rohingya people in Myanmar (Burma) have been going through from decades is a stain on the history of humanity. State-sponsored violence against innocent civilians, fabricating sectarian unrest, accusing indigenous people of the land as illegal immigrants, repression and displacement campaigns by using armed forces against civilian, and the list goes on. Furthermore, the racial and religious discriminations against Rohingya, continuous process of de-legitimisation, institutionalized persecution, crimes against humanity or worsening abuses culminating into one of the gravest genocides of the modern era. For nearly six decades, Rohingya have been systematically deprived of their basic human rights and freedom even the ability to survive.
Reputable international agencies such as UN Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, HRW and UN Facts Finding Mission among others have identified Myanmar’s actions as crimes against humanity, with the element of genocide, and extreme human rights violation committed by Myanmar authority and its components. [iii]
Alone with their intends mentioned afore, the Buddhist Myanmar government massacred the Rohingyas in 2017 where thousands of innocent Rohingya people lost their lives. This caused the biggest human crisis and plight in south-east Asia’s history where thousands of innocent Rohingya women, children, and elderly people fled their homeland to the neighboring country of Bangladesh. For three years, close to one million refugees remained stranded in makeshift camps living in a relatively small geographical area.
“What took place were mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violations of human rights [that] resulted in Rohingya fleeing the country on masse,” [iv] Dr Mahathir Muhammad stated with regard to 2017 Rohingya exodus.
The world media gave the incident widespread coverage, [v] many heartfelt documentaries were produced, and many fact-finding missions and interviews of the victims were recorded. These will remain as a testimony for human history and evidence for the quest of justice in coming days.
Migrations and Rohingya in Diasporas
The culture of migration and crossing borders during the time of crisis, violence and conflict is an ancient pattern in human history. The demands of human nature have become an intrinsic part of our global reality, especially in today’s world where bubbles of freedoms, human rights, and democracy are blown up under the flag of globalization.
Myanmar’s unjust law, systematic atrocities and staged anti-Muslim riots against Rohingya caused repeated forced displacements and mass migration to Bangladesh and thereafter, escaping from certain death to temporary shelters and safety.
Only by looking through the lens of a migrant will enable us to understand exactly how severe and painful it is to leave a life full of memories behind and travelling toward the unknown.
Identity Crisis Abroad and Hopes of Return
Today, the Rohingya are found in many countries across different continents with no proper identifications and legal status. This prevents them from work, access to basic education and access to vital support and assistance.
Discrimination and denial of identity have kept them backwards in all aspect of life. They are in the same perpetual situation irrespective if they are in their homeland or abroad.
From temporarily seeking refuge on a humanitarian ground, dreaming of returning home with respect and dignity, the quest for justice or at least resettlement to a third country; are all options that are at times mere mirage for the Rohingya people. That being said, the foremost priority for the Rohingya is to return home with equal rigths as par other ethnic people of Burma, including the full citizenship and ethnic rights.
Stranded in the middle of nowhere for decades, without any proper socio-economy, without any hope for the educational and cultural prospect; the feeling of a path that leads nowhere has caused psychological and mental disturbance among the Rohingya community in diasporas as well as to those in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
A Strong Diplomatic and Political Will is the solution
Despite the many initiatives and resolutions from relevant world organisations like the UN security council and general assembly to resolve the Rohingya crisis, there is always a clash of interest between different world powers. As usual, politics and the interests of certain states takes the upper hand over the interest of humanity. [vi]
Overall, the Rohingya crisis has taken the shape of only a humanitarian aid issue, while the true roots of the problems lie in the need of a strong diplomatic and political will from the international community; especially the regional stakes holder countries.
Yes, the Rohingya are indeed in need of all kinds of assistance on humanitarian ground, but that is not a solution to the problem. On the contrary, it may prolong the crises rather than resolve them in the long term.
In a nutshell, the Rohingyas are people searching for survival from an enemy that is trying to destroy them by all means. The Rohingyas are seeking helping hands that stand beside them for their legitimate and rightful cause to attain political rights and justice. They want the world to make way for them to return to their homeland with dignity and respect and to restore and sustain their culture and indigenousness.
Rising Fear and Concern
The history of the Rohingya seeking shelter in neighboring countries dates back to the 1960s and onward. For decades, they have been fleeing for their lives, leaving behind all their life’s belongings, and carrying merciless memories of Buddhist inhuman crimes against them.
The Rohingya are struggling to live with the new reality in a new location with numerous different obstacles. Their challenges include the very basic living essentials, healthcare, and educations for the survival of their future generations. Additionally, the challenges of mixing with foreign cultures, traditions, and environments in the host country are mammoth.
While local communities have shown outstanding support, sympathy, and welcomed them; there have been occasional voices of concern.
A reason for such negative voices may be attributed to the lack of cultural knowledge and understanding. Another cause is the misusing the less fortunate Rohingyas and luring them into petty crimes that kindle fear and dislike within the hosting community.
Never the less, it is a norm of local criminal gangs, self-interest dishonest traders and human traffickers to smuggle the less fortunate people of the society, in this case, the Rohingyas and misuse or abuse them for their socio-economical gain. [vii]
Rohingya’s Loyalty and Gratefulness
The Rohingya people are known for their hospitality and peace-loving nature. They have always acknowledged and appreciated the hospitality of every host country. They are aware of their responsibilities, economic strength, and political influences in the international landscape.
Regardless of the volume of cooperation, they have received from different countries, the Rohingyas are always thankful towards both the government and the public of their host countries.
A point of immense mention that deserves to be highlighted, is the outstanding stand and role played by the Bangladeshi and Malaysian governments. Their NGOs and the general public have throughout the crisis till date has shown immense support to the uprooted Rohingya people.
The Enemy is continuously engaged in tarnishing the images of the Rohingya
The Rohingya are always worried about the secret and malicious plots of their enemies particularly Myanmar authority to sabotage the harmonious relationship that exists with their host country. This is done to create misunderstandings and to distort their image in the minds of their hosts. [viii]
These kinds of conspiracies and plots have been encountered in the past, present, and of course, expected in the future as well. The spreading of fake stories[ix] and clips, misinformation and lies, using cyber troopers , fuelling social media and using ill hearted columnist and bloggers aimed for distorting the Rohingya image and dignity. And all of this is carefully orchestrated to diminish the sympathy of the host towards the Rohingyas and to sow the seed of hatred between the refugees and their hosts.
Yet the Rohingyas seek pardon from all their host for any mischief or misdeed made by some in the community who might intentionally or unintentionally fell into the trap of the enemy’s trap.
• Rohingya Muslims of Arakan is a persecuted ethnic minority in Buddhist majority Myanmar, exercised against them are all three extreme offences prescribed by UN Human Rights Commission, which are: crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and systematic genocide.
• Rohingya Muslims of Arakan are forced to leave their ancestral land in order to save their lives from sure death by Buddhist terrorists, the armed forces and the Monks.
• Rohingya Muslims of Arakan who are in the diaspora are taking shelter in neighbouring countries with a hope to return to their homeland with full rights and dignity or to resettle in another country that is willing to accept them.
• Rohingya Muslims of Arakan are living in an unprecedented humanitarian situation and facing numerous social obstacles and identity crisis in refugee camps and in the diasporas.
• And Rohingya Muslims of Arakan is appealing to all Human Beings to come forward to save them from extinction and to achieve justice for their legitimate and just cause.
ABU AHMED FARID
* This represents the writer’s own opinion only it doesn’t necessarily reflect organizational stance.*
[i] Nurul Islam Mr. Chairman ARNO
[ii] Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein UN human rights chief 11 September 2017
[iii] HWR report April 2013
[iv] South China Morning post 25th September 2019
[v] February 2018, the Associated Press
[vi] Reuters DECEMBER 18, 2018
[vii] Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali August 9, 2019
[viii] The Washington Post20 Jul, 2018
[ix] The Guardian 30 august 2018
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