Rohingya crisis needs to understand from the security and humanitarian angle. Rohingya crisis should be addressed and find a long standing sustainable solution. This crisis has its implications in India-Bangladesh, India- Myanmar relationship. So this article is an important one.
Who is Rohingya?
- Rohingya Muslims comprise one million out of the 53 million people that live in Myanmar, forming the world’s largest stateless population in a single country.
- Universally reviled by the country’s Buddhist majority, they have been oppressed by the government since the late 1970s when the government launched a campaign to identify ‘illegal immigrants’.
- Serious abuses were committed, forcing as many as 250,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh.
- The 1982 Citizenship Law in former Burma made the Rohingyas stateless people.
- They have often been called the most persecuted minority in the world.
- The 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims squeezed precariously into the north-west state of Rakhine, in mainly Buddhist Burma, bordering majority Muslim Bangladesh, are stateless and unwanted.
Why No Citizenship Granted
- To qualify for citizenship,Rohingya applicants had to renounce their identity And accept being labelled as ‘Bengalis’ on all official documents.
- They also had to prove that they could trace the presence of their family in Rakhine back three generations, something which is extremely difficult as many Rohingya lack documents or had lost them in 2012.
Why this Rohingaya Crisis is happening
- Since World War Two they have been treated increasingly by Burmese authorities as illegal, interloping Bengalis, facing apartheid-like conditions that deny them free movement or state education while government forces intermittently drive out and slaughter them
- The United Nations has reported that the army may have committed ethnic cleansing
- The latest military crackdown, which began on August 25, caused almost 90,000 Rohingyas to flee under fire to squalid, overflowing relief camps across the Bangladeshi border in just two weeks.
- Officially close to 400 people had died by early September, but human rights activists claim to have confirmation of at least 1,000 deaths and believe the figure is much higher.
- The death toll will inevitably rise after Burma, also known as Myanmar, blocked UN agencies from delivering vital food, water and medicine supplies to 250,000 Rakhine residents desperately in need
- The army “clearing operations” which sparked the mass exodus of civilians in both October 2016 and in August 2017, were launched after insurgents known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked several paramilitary check posts.
- Rohingya activists claim the insurgents are mainly young men who have been pushed to breaking point by relentless oppression.
- A report released in early September by the Burma Human Rights Network documents the rise of systematic abuses against Burmese Muslims since 2012, including the creation of “Muslim-free zones”, denial of ID cards, and the banning of Islamic holidays.
- The oppression has been mirrored by an upsurge of ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups who encourage an anti-Muslim rhetoric
- The Rohingya issue and its spill over impact on Myanmar`s western peripheral region and security implications figured in the discussions is not clear.
- In all probability, the import of the ferment caused by the Rohingya migration, efforts of radical Islamists to influence some of the Rohingya youth, and the Pakistan ISI’s attempts to capitalise on the situation and promote anti-India activities would not have been overlooked.
- Rising anger in the Muslim world about the plight of the Rohingya has compounded fears of home-grown militancy as well as support from international jihadists.
- Al Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen has already called for retaliatory attacks against Myanmar
- The security aspect of the Rohingya issue has largely been overlooked.
- Illegal movement of people, combined with human trafficking and cross-border migration, can weaken Myanmar’s relations with its neighbour Bangladesh and its ASEAN partners.
- It may, in effect, undermine ASEAN’s efforts towards integration by spoiling mutual trust and confidence in each other.
- That, in turn, would engender a stable security environment in Myanmar`s western region, and in the peripheral areas adjoining Bangladesh and India
- Bangladesh and India to the west as well as Indonesia, Malaysia and even Thailand to the east of Myanmar have been affected by the Rohingya refugee issue in recent years.
- In India, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya refugees, with 16,500 registered with the office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner.
- Interestingly, they are spread over several cities and states: Jammu, New Delhi, Jaipur and some places in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the north-east.
- Some Rohingya refugees have in fact been residing for more than ten years.
- This only indicates the protracted nature of the crisis affecting the Rohingyas.
- While some of the Rohingyas are psychologically and socially at ease in India`s accommodative milieu, there are a few places in the country where politically instigated attempts are being made to re-locate them.
- The 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had passed a Resolution on 24 March 2017.
- Adopted by a 34 to 22 majority, the Resolution constituted a three-member Commission of eminent persons in the realm of international law and human rights –
- The Commission was tasked to undertake a Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Rakhine province (as well as areas inhabited by other ethnic minorities) and report back to the UNHRC by March 2018
- Myanmar State Councillor Aung San Su Kyi criticized the appointment of the FFM and Naypyitaw has hinted that the members of the commission would be denied visas.
Opinion on India
- The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, stated that India needs to deport those Rohingyas who are illegally staying in India.
- The Supreme Court of India, hearing a plea by two Rohingya refugees, has instructed the government to inform it about the detailed plans with regard to the deportation of Rohingya refugees
- India’s tough stand on deporting Rohingyas back to Rakhine State in the midst of the ongoing violence has evoked criticism from national and international human rights activists.
- The India-Myanmar Joint Statement, released when Prime Minister Modi visited Nay Pyi Taw, noted that the situation in Rakhine State has a ‘developmental as well as a security dimension’.15 India will help Myanmar under the Rakhine State Development Programme and both sides are expected to finalise the implementation plan of this programme in the coming months.
- It will cover infrastructure development and socio-economic projects, especially in the areas of education, health, agriculture, agro-processing, community development, construction of roads and bridges, protection of environment and so on.
- The Joint Statement, however, has no specific mention about the recent clashes between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists or exodus of the Rohingyas from Myanmar or India’s plan about deportation of some 40,000 Rohingya refugees who are reportedly staying in India.
- India’s move to dissociate itself from the Bali Declaration adopted at the World Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development in Indonesia, and which called “on all parties to contribute to the restoration of stability and security … respect human rights of all people in Rakhine State regardless of their faith and ethnicity, as well as facilitate safe access for humanitarian assistance”, puts into question its respect for human rights and the treatment of minorities.
- It weakens India’s moral authority to speak for minorities in other parts of its neighbourhood. Interestingly Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka joined the declaration.
Need for enhanced Indian diplomatic efforts
- The success of India’s diplomacy will lie in the extent to which it can induce Naypyitaw to take a long view in the interests of its own political stability, internal security and social harmony.
- If such a process can be initiated with the help of Indian diplomacy, the Rohingyas would be able to come out of the genocidal situation in which they find themselves at present.
- India has a stake in the security conditions in upper western Myanmar adjoining the Naga self-administered zone where the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim operates.
- A modicum of understanding prevails between New Delhi and Naypyitaw with a view to ensuring that the internal security environment in India`s north-eastern states is not jeopardised by the activities of the Khaplang group in Myanmar.
- New Delhi should strive for a similar approach vis-à-vis Rakhine keeping in view the larger implications of the Rohingya issue.
Q.)“Rohingya crisis is not a mere internal matter of Myanmar” Critically analyse the statement