Rohingyas are refugees, not Muslims

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Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas have confronted the world with a great new humanitarian challenge. But more than that it has challenged the  world’s conscience and exposed its hypocrisies. This is an ethnic cleansing that is happening in full view of the world’s media. The international community has full knowledge of the scale of the crisis but still the cleansing is being treated as more or less a routine development. World leaders including the United Nations are content with issuing statements. Media has extensively reported on the humanitarian crisis but there is a surprising absence of the outrage. The world has looked at the cleansing in a passive, benumbed way.

There are two ways to look at it. One, the world has grown too used to the successive humanitarian crises that yet another such catastrophe doesn’t make a difference. Another reason is telling: it has sadly to do with the religion of the community being subjected to ethnic cleansing. And the powerlessness of this community in the world.   

According to the figures issued by the Amnesty International more Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh in three weeks than fled by sea to Europe in a year. However, the refugees have also fled  to India and Pakistan, more to latter than to former. But New Delhi has decided to deport the community arguing they are a security threat. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court the Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court not to interfere in the Rohingya issue as it was a policy decision to deport them and that some of them were “linked to Pakistani terrorist groups.”  The continued stay of Rohingyas in India, the union government said,  apart from being absolutely illegal is found to be having national security ramification and has serious security consequences. The government also argued that due to the large influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries, the demographic profile of the some of the bordering states had undergone a serious change.

On the other hand, the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has also broken her surprise. In her belated State of Union address Suu Kyii said the Myanmar condemned all human rights violations and unlawful violence. She called Myanmar “a complex country” adding that Myanmar was making efforts to restore peace and stability in the western state of Rakhine, the site of the current conflict. And importantly, she said that Myanmar was prepared to start the verification process of refugees who wish to return and assured that “those who have been verified as refugees will be accepted without any problems and with full assurance of security and access to humanitarian aid”.

 Suu Kyii’s speech came after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave Suu Kyi one “last chance” to stop the refugee crisis in the west of the country. However, truth remains the ethnic cleansing has been largely successful. Lakhs of Rohingyas have been forced to flee the country and their return will not be easy. It is time that the world wakes up to the catastrophe and takes effective steps to halt the ethnic cleansing. And New Delhi, for once, needs to look at Rohingyas as refugees and not as Muslims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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