Safeguarding Rohingya Population – Md. Tanvir Rhaman
Torment on Rohingya minority has been once again flared up on Friday, allegedly, scores of men purportedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), assaulted on Myanmar security forces, killing at least a dozen of personnel. Since 1982 after the denial of Rohingya citizenship in Myanmar (former Burma) several violent attempts have been fabricated to evacuate Rohingya minority from Rakhine state withal Myanmar. Recurrence of tension in Rakhine-state of Myanmar is harrowing world community’s sentiment as well.
Rohingya people are an ethnic Muslim group primarily located in Rakhine state (formerly Arakan-state). Rohingya Muslims usually follow sufi trends, one of the noteworthy versions of Islam. They are estimated 1-1.5 million in number out of 50 million population of Myanmar. But irony of fate that they are treated like aliens in their own fatherland while Myanmar military junta have turned down their citizenship via new citizenship law of 1982. As human being they hardly get rights to live profoundly. To get citizenship they must provide evidence that they are living in Myanmar hereditarily since 1823. For getting married and having work they must need permission from the government by showing symbolic white cards. Very often they face torture by the security forces and local Buddhists i.e brutal beating, gang rape, abduction, molestation, arson, mass killings and so on. Even women and children do not get rid of the turmoil. After being harassed on diverse military campaigns and communal violence they seek to get shelter vastly on Bangladesh and rest on Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
During the passage of 1978 and 1992 separate military expeditions have been forced more than 450,000
Rohingya Muslims out of the country with systematic murders and arson (CBC).In 1978’s “Dragon King” operation, the Myanmar army committed widespread killings and rapes of Rohingya civilians, and they carried out the destruction of mosques and other religious persecution. These events resulted in the exodus of an estimated 200,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. Another campaign of forced labor, executions, torture, and rape in 1992 led to a similar number of Rohingyas fleeing across the border (Benjamin Zawacki). Approximately 130,000 Rohingya have been evicted in the sake of communal violence of 2012 between Buddhist and Rohingya Muslims (BBC). In 2016’s clash around 87000 refugees took their shelter in Bangladesh (Al Jazeera). From early 1990 around 400,000 Rohingyas are reportedly living in squalid camps in Bangladesh (TOI). According to the UN Office for the Co- ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 140,000 people are now living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Myanmar, suffering dire need of humanitarian aid.
Current attack on Rohingya Muslims has had fatal consequences. Human Rights Watch said, satellite image has found 100 km areas (in length) have been calcined due to arson. 110 Rohingya have already been killed. International Organisation for Migration reported 18,500 Rohingya have crossed the border and entered into Bangladesh since the last invasion of Myanmar military on 25th August, 2017.
Ongoing migrant crisis of Rohingya have generated facet humanitarian problems and geopolitical complexities. Inciting violence in Myanmar has imposed burden on Bangladesh in various aspects. Despite having a number of people who live under poverty line, Bangladesh has a potential economic growth which may be a milestone for developing and under developed countries. Notwithstanding, Rohingya refugee flow toward Bangladesh needs more afford to feed the additional people including food, medicine, shelter and workplace. For a developing country ethnic conflicts create hinderance of its economic growth. In sober fact, some Rohingya refugees are convicted of several criminal acts such as narcotics smuggling, illegal arms trade, human trafficking etc. In need of living, they are accessible by cheap render. Using Bangladeshi passport, they are doing illegal tasks beyond boundary which may be pernicious for national image of Bangladesh too international community. These types of felonious acts are contradictory to national interest and national security of Bangladesh. Bitter circumstances have voided the possibilities of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations. Bangladesh-Myanmar relations can’t be harnessed unless the dispute regarding Rohingya issue has been solved. Since the latter half of 1990s, the two towns, Maungdaw (of Rakhine) and Teknaf (of Bangladesh) between the Naf River, have been identified by the two governments as the future strongholds for promoting the border trade (Dr. M. Rahmatullah, 2004). However, without any solutions to the Rohingya issue these two towns will never become a stable area for profitable border trade (Rohingya Issue: A Thorny Obstacle between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Kei NEMOTO).
Rohingyas are often designated as most persecuted people in the world. It is long since international community took rationale steps with a view to wiping out anguish condition of Rohingya commons. Henceforth, Rohingya crisis is a problem of Myanmar government, nevertheless, Bangladesh is being victim of this conflict severely. For those causes, instantly Bangladesh should take the first step for configuring a viable solutions. For diminution of this baneful situation multilateral configuration ought to be portrayed. Bangladesh have to draw attention of intergovernmental organizations and other prevalent countries resembling U.S.A, Russia, India, China, U.K, Japan and other European countries. UN, OIC and ASEAN must play an active role to overcome the obstacles that are encumbering rights of Rohingyas.
First obstacle of Rohingya crisis solution is citizenship law of Myanmar. According to Myanmar citizenship law, ”Nationals such as the Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine or shan and ethnic groups as have settled in any of the territories included within the State as their permanent home from a period prior to 1185 B.E., 1823 A.D. are Burma citizens. The council of State may decide whether any ethnic group is national or not.” (Myanmar citizenship law, 1982, chapter:ll, article 3,4). This stipulation loads burden on Rohingya and other ethnic groups to prove their ancestors’ residence in Myanmar. The plight of the Rohingyas seems unlikely to improve without an overhaul of the citizenship law. On December 29, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Burmese government to amend the 1982 Citizenship Law so that it no longer discriminates against the Rohingya (Human Rights Watch). Cited by International Federation of Human Rights, ”But present government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, has failed to adequately address the long-standing discriminatory and abusive practices against Rohingya in Rakhine State”(Fidh :2016). In order to preventing this obstacle, amendment of Myanmar citizenship law of 1982 is obligatory in accordance with UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).
Second obstacle which is inciting Rohingya crisis is communal violence. In Rakhine State in the western part of Myanmar, violence had broken out during mid-2012 between the ethnic Rakhine, who are primarily Buddhist, and the Rohingya who are primarily Muslim. A statement of a Buddhist monk is quite astonishing when he has ” denied the citizenship of Rohingya population in Myanmar ” broadcasted on Al Jazeera. Such kind of tendency is provocative for religious intolerance and exaggerates skirmishes. Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder of the American Islamic Congress have said, “We have to respect others and we have to understand and not discriminate on the basis of faith… When people do not talk and communicate, everything around them becomes dehumanized… When you mix politics with religion, you get the worst of everything.” With this respect we must take religion out of politics that inflame vehemence.
Third obstacle that impedes the probable resolution of Rohingya crisis is brutal behavior and unwillingness to solve crisis of Myanmar government towards Rohingyas. Paying no heed to UN charter (1945), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (2012), Myanmar military repeatedly carrying on suppression to Rohingya ethnic group. It’s a matter of concern that in spite of invoking not to abolish human rights Myanmar government is breaching international law frequently. UN and ASEAN should be strict to implement peace in the Rakhine region. As it is mentioned in ASEAN Human Rights declaration on Article 38. “Every person and the peoples of ASEAN have the right to enjoy peace within an ASEAN framework of security and stability, neutrality and freedom… ASEAN Member States should continue to enhance friendship and cooperation in the furtherance of peace, harmony and stability in the region.”
Inaction of world dominant countries like USA, UK, China, Russia, India is also a cause that’s why Myanmar is getting ground to exploit Rohingya Muslims. In 2003, USA invaded Iraq along with other NATO countries pleading storage of Mass Destruction Weapons (MWD) but found null. But, while Rohingyas are being slaughtered in daylight the alliance remains tacit. These dominant countries have to raise their voices through UN Security Council and requiring humanitarian intervention. They ought to create pressure on Myanmar government to stop ethnic cleansing.
Rohingya population don’t enjoy a single portion of Universal Declaration of Human Rights that contains 30 articles. Because of oppression on Rohingya, human rights, human security as well as international law are being violated. Freedom of choice, social rights, political rights, essentials of life, rights to shelter, food, nutrition and education have been suffocated. Humanity has been deteriorated. Rather clashes are exacerbating extreme nationalism among them which may metamorphosis to terrorism.
The author is an undergraduate student of International Relations at University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. His Research interests are Geopolitics, Geostrategy, Conflicts and Peace Studies, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Law and Global Politics.