Libertatem Magazine

Deportation of Rohingya Muslims

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During World War II/those were the days of Second World War, when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Burma, at that time the British forces had to intervene because there existed inter-communal riots between Arakanese and Muslim villagers. The British armed Muslims/the Royal British Army ended up aiding Muslims with Ammunitions and weaponry so that they could protect the area from Japanese invasion. But what happened, in turn, was that they tried to misuse these provisions provided to them by to destroy the Arakanese villages instead and this created a vent between the two communities. This caused a lot of displacement in that particular region and according to the International Crisis Group these displaced people were termed as Rohingyas and when they wanted to return to Arakan after independence, they were rendered as illegal immigrants. United Nations in 2013, described them as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. According to the Rohingya, they have been residents of Myanmar since long with a mix of colonial and pre-colonial settlers. The official stance of Myanmar government still pertains to recognizing them as illegal migrants/immigrants from Bangladesh.

Statistical representation of the condition of life of Rohingya in Myanmar

The Problem

Rohingya population/Rohingyas is/are denied of citizenship under Burmese citizenship Law as the law lists 8 communities being ethnic minorities as the “national races”, Rohingya nit being one of them because the law mentions/clearly states that one has to prove their residence in Myanmar before the happenings of Anglo Burmese War 1823, so as to obtain the nationality.

Same is the reason stated for not providing them with the permission to hold civil service jobs. UN officials have described Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing because of Yanghee Lee, the UN special investigator on Myanmar believes/has a sufficient reason to believe that the country/some people in the country want to expel its entire Rohingya population. Some people even compare the condition of these people to that of Apartheid.

The Roots of Political Participation

As Burma got independence and formed its own government, Rohingyas were given the status of minorities. Zura Begum who was Burma’s one of the first female legislators was elected by Rohingyas in 1951 for the same purpose/to serve the same purpose. These people also supported the uprising for democracy in the country. Discrimination against these people increased since Burmese coup was imposed and this representation/status provided by Burma earlier was snatched away.

After some years, somewhere around in the early 1980s, General Ne Win’s government came up with a Burmese Nationality Law which could now govern the citizenship and respective rights of these people and ultimately this Law ended up stripping off Rohingya from the status of being a Burmese citizen. It listed 8 races as “national races” and did not recognize Rohingyas as one of them. Such incidents caused around 250,000 refugees to flee to neighboring Bangladesh and because of this both the countries came to the brink of a war. Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize the term “Rohingya” and refer to the community as Bengalis/Bengals. They are deprived of citizenship; their political leaders are barred and tortured so that they can be systematically deprived of the elections.

India’s Stand

India’s stand on the need to deport all illegal immigrants pertains to the fact that, even the ones who have the procession of certain UNHRC papers are suspected to be members belonging to certain terror groups. Considering the huge population of the country, migrants can cause social, political and cultural problems. He also states that these immigrants “not only infringe on rights of Indian citizens but also pose grave security challenges” also to “ensure that the demographic pattern of India is not disturbed”. In response to the criticism made by human rights activists on the deportation plans, being adamant about the influx asserts that India has already taken in a huge amount of refugees and therefore, “nobody should tell us how to deal with them. The government’s plan was challenged in the Supreme Court and the next hearing is due on 11th September 2017. There are more than 40,000 Rohingya in segregated in Delhi-NCR, Haryana, Jammu, Hyderabad,  UP and Rajasthan.


Talking of the legal database, India has no refugee law. Also, it is not a signatory to 1951 UN refugee convention or its 1967 Protocol. Whether To allow refugees or not is decided according to the situation prevalent at that time and accordingly Long Term Visas are provided when we allow the plea for refuge and this visa has to be renewed annually as an obligation. Because this visa gives them the access to Indian education, right to work here in private sector etc. it becomes difficult to arrange all this for lacs of people after looking at the wide array problems that the existing people are facing and so this becomes another reason for the deportation plan. But the ‘principle of ‘Nonrefoulement’ is binding on all states irrespective of the fact that they have signed UN’s refugee convention or not and in addition to this the customary law also says  that once refugees steps foot  in your country you cannot  forcefully send them back where they don’t feel safe and face threats.

According to the interrogators of ARSA, suspects who have been jailed, their objective seems to declare Myanmar as an Islamic State and are also suspected of having links with foreign Islamist groups and are being funded by them. But ARSA, in turn, says that its objective is just to get rid of the Burmese cruelty on them and assuring that they have no foreign connections.

Current Scenario: The Blame Game

The Myanmar military and the“ultra-nationalist Buddhists” are conducting “summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment and forced labor” upon Rohingyas. Burmese security forces are after the “ultra Nationalist Buddhists”, the ones murdering’, raping and torturing Rohingyas in the name of nationalism. United Nations states that the human rights violations against the Rohingyas can possibly be termed as “crimes against humanity”.

Rohingya campaign groups, notably the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, demands for the right to “self-determination” within Myanmar since they face problems in integration with the people of other communities as their language and culture is highly influenced by Bangladesh and India and doesn’t match with the rest of the population.

Also, comparing with the rest of the population Rohingyas have the child mortality rate of around 224 which is four times more than the national average.  Similarly, diarrhea and infections are five times more than the national average. This is major because most of the hospitals refuse to accommodate them because of the discrimination prevailing at a certain level and also the other reason is that, most of them reside in camps where conditions are pathetic. Earlier mostly these people swallowed the violence on them but recently a group called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ASRA) tried to take matters into their hands by executing some violent actions against the security forces. The military responded with violence and cruelty as well and as UN says claims it may amount to ethnic cleansing. Refugees are all running and flooding in Bangladesh stating that their relatives and families have either been murdered or raped and their villages been burnt. To the contrary, Some of the Buddhists are also fleeing away claiming that Muslims have killed and raped members of their community. Because of these disputes, lakhs of people have died and many states have divided into religious lines.

According to Aung San Su Ki, the sympathy developing for Muslims around the world is blinding most of the people making them blind enough to see the other side of the story or rather as she calls it an “iceberg of misinformation”.

Hatred towards the Rohingya is so strong in Myanmar’s majority, that speaking up for them might sound potentially a politically suicidal move.

The Panacea

Bangladesh already has overstretched their borders well as camps. But till now they have not been able to provide for a basic necessity such as food for them. Suu Kyi’s government commissioned former UN chief Kofi Annan to lead a year-long review on how peace can be brought back to Rakhine. The report was welcomed internationally with a call for Myanmar’s government to swiftly implement its findings, which they have previously vowed to do. But within hours of the report’s release, renewed fighting breaks out sparking the latest exodus. Therefore, it has become very/quiet difficult to find an amicable solution since, both the sides are stuck on two different extremes. In my opinion/I believe that India should allow these refugees as we have always believed in a principle where we say that an innocent person should not be punished even if it is at the cost of cutting loose ten wrongdoers and therefore, same goes for these people.

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