All about Rohingya – Past to Present.

You might have heard about the Rohingya recent outbreak in Myanmar. If you don’t aware of the history and recent happenings about Rohingya community, then this will be the must-read article. We have tried to put up all your basic questions with the simple answers. Read and post your comments in the prescribed section below.  

Who are Rohingya?

Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group who live in Rakhine province of Myanmar. Rohingya means “inhabitant of Rohang”, the early Muslim name for Arakan (Rakhine state was ruled by Arakan kingdom). It is believed that these people have arrived and settled in Rakhine for trading and other activities from Middle East countries during 8th Century AD.

What’s the Issue Now?

The “clearance operations” launched by the Myanmar military to root out ARSA(Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) has caused nearly tens of thousands of Rohingya people to flee to their neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and India as refugees. This refugee crisis is called by UN as “the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis” and “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing“.

What is Ethnic cleansing?

A purposeful policy designed by one ethnic group or religious group to remove by violent or terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from the certain geographical area

Why Military Operations by Myanmar?

  1. The history of conflict between Rohingya people and Myanmar government dates back to British colonial period. During this period, British ruled over the area which is today known as Myanmar along with India and Bangladesh.
  2. There is a large migration of people from Bangladesh to Myanmar for Labour work without any regulation despite opposition from the native people. After Independence from British, the Myanmar Government termed these people along with Rohingya Muslims as Illegal Migrants from Bangladesh.
  3. Even though Rohingya have claimed that they have lived here from the 8th century, Myanmar Government didn’t hear their demands.
  4. The situation got worse when the Government excluded the Rohingya People from their citizen’s list during the enactment of Myanmar citizenship law in 1982.
  5. It made them Stateless and deprived their basic necessities like Education, Food, etc. It placed numerous conditions like a mandatory two-child limit per Rohingya household — a restriction that is only applied to the Rohingya.
  6. This aggravated the Rohingya people to protest for their Basic rights and citizenship and eventually it lead to the clash between the two sides.
  7. In 2012, 4 Rohingya Muslims were accused of raping Buddhist girl and a major violence broke out. During this violence, Buddhist nationalist backed by security forces attacked Rohingya homes and set fire to them. It leads to the mass displacement of Rohingya people.

ARSA – Militant group

The Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army (ARSA), formerly known as Harakatul Yakeen, emerged in 2016 claiming to fight for a “democratic Muslim state for the Rohingya”.

On August 25, 2017, it attacked 30 police and army post which eventually lead to the death of 12 police officers.

To eliminate ARSA from their land, Myanmar military has launched clearance operations. Rohingya people accuse that Army men set fire to their homes and villages in the name of carrying out clearance operations.

Current Situation

Nearly half of the Rohingya People have fled to neighboring countries likes Bangladesh, India and South East Asian Countries. It created a huge refugee crisis in the neighboring countries.

International Stance

Amnesty International describes the Rohingya as “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world”. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that” The situation has spiraled into the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare”. Even though there is a mounting pressure from the several countries, Myanmar government has rejected the allegation of targeting the Rohingya Muslims.

India’s Stance

Around 40,000 Rohingya people were fled to India from Bangladesh through the porous Border. They have mostly settled around West Bengal and the North Eastern States. Even though India is known for the warm welcoming hands to Refugees in the past time like 1971 Bangladesh War crisis, Tibet crisis, but this time Indian Government has chosen to close the borders for Rohingya people.

In a Parliamentary discussion, Home ministry has stated that “All the 40,000 Rohingya people staying in India are illegal migrants and they will be deported soon”. A PIL against the government regarding the deportation of Rohingya people is currently being examined by our apex court.

Way Forward

An advisory commission on Rakhine state headed by former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan was established in 2016 to ensure the social and economic wellbeing of Rakhine people. The recommendations by Kofi Annan is under the consideration of Myanmar government. They are

1) Reviewing 1982 citizenship Act.

2) Lifting restrictions on Rohingya people’s fundamental rights.

An Agreement between Bangladesh Government and Myanmar government has been signed for the gradual repatriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya people from Bangladesh. Even though Rohingya people have placed their minimum demands like releasing innocent Rohingya and accountability of military for their violent activities, there is an absolute uncertainty over their peaceful settlements.

About the Author: GetintoIAS Team helps civil service aspirants, those who are trying hard to get into IAS.
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