Ethnic tension, cultural genocide, mass killing and humanitarian crises is what describes the current attack on Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar, a country governed by noble peace prize laureate –Aung San Suu Ki. With Buddhist hegemony, Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship in Myanmar because the country believes them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In 2017, a so called ‘clearance operation’ was been initiated, to push all the Rohingyas out of the borders of Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Ki has not taken a stand against the military which has been committed horrific crimes against Rohingya Muslims. In an open letter written by Nobel laurate Desmond Tutu to Aung San Sui Ki, he mentions that “We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.”
A HISTORY OF GIVING AND TAKING CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS
Myanmar is predominantly occupied by Buddhists and nearly all the Rohingya Muslims, a minority, live in Rakhine state. The Union Citizenship Act passed in 1948, provided citizenship or identity cards to all those who had been living in the country since two generations, including Rohingya Muslims. However, those who did not fulfill the condition were barred from citizenship rights.
In 1962 all the citizens were given national registration cards except Rohingyas who were given foreign identity cards.
In 1982, a new citizenship law stripped Rohingyas from all the citizenship rights and did not recognise them as an Ethnic group.
Since 1970s, violence against Rohingyas has intensified, forcing them to flee and take refuge in neighboring countries.
In October 2016, according to the Myanmar government, several armed individuals attacked border police post in Rakhine state and thereby killed nine police personnel. The government troops retaliated and since then horrific cases of rape, raid, arson, killing and torture have been reported. Following this, violence irrupted between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), and police troops in the region. ARSA identifies itself as a protector of the rights of Rohingya Muslims; however, the Myanmar government has labelled it as a ‘terrorist group’. On August 25, 2017, members of ARSA attacked the officers of law. Violence was reciprocated through violence in the form mass killings and grievous offences were committed against Rohingyas. This has forced approximately 3,00,000 Rohingyas to leave Myanamar and settle as ‘refugees’ in other countries.
HOW CAN INDIA HELP
India, a country that takes pride as being the ‘largest democracy in the world’ has been discriminating refugees on the basis of their faith and as a result, it has been skeptical in giving
refuge to the ‘Muslim’ immigrants. Consequently, more than 40,000 Rohingya Refugees are to be deported back. This not only undermines the very institution of democracy but also is an attack on humanity. In the wake of recent refugee crisis, there is a need to rise above caste and religion and help those in need.
India not being a part of UNHCR, further complicates the problem. Loose implementation of the laws within the country can create biasness as in the case of Muslim immigrants. Therefore, affiliation to UNHCR or stringent application of laws is the need of the hour.
India, being a neighboring country, can certainly build pressure upon Myanmar to stop the violence against Rohingya Muslims.