By Bhavini Srivastava
Myanmar has been the epicentre of communal violence in recent times. There have been allegations of genocide and crimes taking place within its territorial boundaries.
The government has been heavily criticised for its continued inaction despite consistent acts of persecution against the Rohingyas. Furthermore, the military continues to be a formidable force despite Myanmar being a democratic country.
Where it all began
The Rohingyas reside in a region of Myanmar that borders Bangladesh called Rakhine, which has been volatile for a long time. They migrated almost two centuries ago as farmers during the British colonial rule and have remained in Myanmar since then. In 1982, when the law on citizenship was promulgated, the Rohingyas were not accepted as citizens. They were looked down upon with suspicion as Bengali interlopers. On the other hand, Bangladesh considered them to be Burmese. This disparity never faded but with time, deepened into animosity and culminated with blood being drawn on both sides.
Uncertain escape routes
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Caught in a lurch, fleeing Rohingyas also bear the risk of being intercepted by the military or other smugglers. These smugglers unceremoniously strip them of their possessions and respect.[/su_pullquote]
The Rohingyas, thus, lead unsettled lives. They have been shunned by their home state and rejected elsewhere. The path to a safe haven out of the monstrosities they face in Myanmar is full of difficulties. They are compelled to approach smugglers to help them escape to Malaysia or Indonesia. Caught in a lurch, fleeing Rohingyas also bear the risk of being intercepted by the military or other smugglers. These smugglers unceremoniously strip them of their possessions and respect. However, the wearied Rohingyas are ready to pay any price as long as they survive. If they are fortunate, then they only have to brave the tumultuous seas and inclement weather.The Rohingyas of Myanmar have been shunned by their home state and are rejected elsewhere | Picture Courtesy – Peace Child International
The dawn of a new era?
It is safe to say that they are one of the most persecuted ethnic minority groups in the world. Rakhine is the least developed state in the country and has deplorable standards of living. The refugee camps lack basic amenities since the respective countries do not have a formal engagement with Myanmar. It has recently come to light that Myanmar and Bangladesh will be entering into talks to find an effectual solution to this refugee problem. If nothing else, this will be a start towards amending the historical injustices.
Where does India stand?
India’s stance of supporting the Rohingyas is pivotal not only for stringing together regional stability in South East Asia but also for soothing the festering wounds of India’s partition on communal lines.
The current government could seize this chance to get rid of the ghosts from the past and show Pakistan that India firmly believes in peace, and also to prove to the Indian Muslims that it views the community as more than a mere vote bank.
The start of a rebellion
[su_pullquote]According to a December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group, remorseless oppression by the military has resulted in the radicalization of some Rohingyas.[/su_pullquote]
According to December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group, remorseless oppression by the military has resulted in the radicalization of some Rohingyas. There’s a growing mood to retaliate and avenge their creed. The Rohingya Solidarity Organisation sparked off a skirmish on 9 October 2016, which was followed by reprisals from the military. Moreover, the danger that ISIS could exploit this sensitive situation and use it to instigate terrorism also exists. A grotesque picture has been painted in democratic Myanmar. Houses are being burnt and women have been raped.
Its people are fleeing to other countries and exerting undue pressure on their resources. Despite the dire situation, Aung San Su Kyi remains tight-lipped.
It is time for the world to contemplate the rationale behind subscribing to religion if religion is enough to lead to such gory carnage.
Featured Image Credits - The New York Times
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