According to reliable reports, almost 300,000 Rohingya refugees have been forced to flee Myanmar. Eye witness accounts have also confirmed the relentless violence targeted against the Rohingya Muslims, in which hundreds including women children and elderly have been slaughtered. These inhuman crimes extend to mass decapitation and sexual violence against women and girls.
Such eventualities have led to a mass exodus towards neighbouring Bangladesh, where the refugees are deprived of basic necessities and are forced to live in banal shabbiness and crippling poverty. Rohingyas stand out prominently as one of the most persecuted minorities of the world. This ethnic minority group which have limited access to healthcare, education and jobs, are also deprived of citizenship rights in a country which they have known as their home for generations.
The Rohingya Muslims are at an additional disadvantage as they hail mostly from the Rakhine state, where they have to live alongside the Buddhist population. They are persecuted by the Buddhist majority, with the Myanmar government virtually turning a blind eye. This is evident as an interim report of a Special Myanmar Government Committee which enquired into the atrocities, found no evidence to substantiate claims of genocide or rampant rape allegations against the Rohingya population.
According to a report of Amnesty International, in Bangladesh which borders the Rakhine state, there are eyewitnesses accounts of hundreds of fleeing Rohingya refugees being detained and forcibly returned to Myanmar as Bangladesh does not recognize them as refugees. Professor Robert Taylor, who is a Myanmar expert, is of the view that the Rohingya issue is complex. And there are strident claims from all sides as is inevitable when issues pertaining to ethnic origins and historical roots crop up.
Interestingly, the Rohingya Muslim population is not recognised as indigenous by their state though the leadership of this community claims to be one of Myanmar’s indigenous national races. The British recognized no such group. Neither did the half a million Bengali Muslims who lived in Rakhine state.
The Rohingya issue has now apparently precipitated into a crisis with the Rohingya population being viewed in the same light as the illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. On the other hand, Bangladesh views Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Myanmar. And so does India. The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) has approached the Supreme Court through a petition to quash a recent order passed by the government of India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar. The petition states “India being a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) cannot deport children in the arbitrary- inhuman manner.” Be that as it may, for the Rohingya inhabitants of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar peace appears to be a far cry.