International Affairs

The Rohingya Crisis

Background The Rohingya refugee crisis of 2015 refers to the mass migration of people from Myanmar. Nearly all who fled the country traveled to different Southeast Asian countries including Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Thailand by rickety boats through the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that 25,000 people have been taken to boats from January to March in 2015 by migrant smugglers. There are unconfirmed reports that around 100 people died in Indonesia, about 200 in Malaysia and 10 in Thailand after these traffickers abandoned them at sea.
The Rohingya Crisis
The Rohingya crisis has been dubbed as an example of “textbook ethnic cleansing” by the international media. The UN says the Rohingya's situation is the "world's fastest-growing refugee crisis". Amnesty International has described the Rohingya Muslims as "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world". Rohingyas represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar, with the majority living in the Rakhine state. They have their own language and culture and claim that they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations. The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, claiming that they were illegal migrants from countries like Bangladesh. What are the causes of the crisis? •The systematic discrimination institutionalized by the state against these people has left them living in deplorable conditions and segregated, with limited access to schools, healthcare, and jobs, says Amnesty. •Tensions between the minority group and the mainly Buddhist Rakhine population erupted into rioting in 2012, driving thousands from their homes and into displacement camps. •Amnesty International said security forces carried out a "targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning", once refugees began to migrate after Myanmar's response to an attack by Rohingya militants on more than 20 police posts, that the government claimed killed 12 members of the security forces. •There were reports of barbaric sexual violence against Rohingya women and instances pf entire villages being burned to the ground. •More than 600,000 people have fled the violence, bringing the total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to around 900,000. The Myanmar government said at least 400 people have been killed and described most of them as “terrorists”. While fleeing from Myanmar, a large number of the refugees have died, been captured and killed. The survivors have given harrowing accounts of their miseries, where they claimed that rape and sexual violence was used as an institutional military strategy. Actions of the international community There has been widespread condemnation of the Myanmar government's actions by the international community, but no sanctions have been imposed on the country. •The UN Security Council appealed to Myanmar to stop the violence, but no sanctions have been imposed. •The UN's Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has said an act of genocide against Rohingya Muslims by state forces in Myanmar cannot be ruled out, even though the crisis has not been called genocide. •The United States has urged Myanmar's troops to "respect the rule of law, stop the violence and end the displacement of civilians from all communities". •China holds that the international community "should support the efforts of Myanmar in safeguarding the stability of its national development". •Bangladesh is planning to build more shelters in the Cox's Bazaar area for the refugees but wants to limit their movement into other areas. •The United Kingdom has pledged £59m in aid to support those fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar. UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said that the military action in Rakhine state had to stop and has suspended training courses for the Myanmar military. The state of Myanmar has urged the displaced people to find refuge in temporary camps set up in Rakhine state. Bangladesh had signed a deal with Myanmar to return thousands of Rohingya refugees, but few details have been released on this issue. The refugees have also said that they would not return to Myanmar. Since becoming Myanmar's de facto leader in 2016, Aung San Suu Kyi has not commented on the Rohingya crisis. The international community has widely criticized her for not taking a stand in the state-controlled ‘genocide’, and there have been deliberations regarding stripping her of the awards she was given for her humanitarian work. Amnesty International has withdrawn its top human rights award from her. India’s response to the crisis •Nearly 40000 Rohingyas have migrated to India. India has been allowing them to settle in the different parts of the country since 2012. •In 2012 December, India’s external affairs Minister visited Rakhine and donated 1 million dollars for relief. •The government had outlined a plan to deport “illegally staying foreign nationals” from India by identification. •India is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, thus refugee status granted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Rohingya does not affect their deportation. •On 4 October 2018, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court refused to let seven Rohingya refugees stay in India and arranged for their deportation. These men were arrested and incarcerated in 2012 for the offense of entering the country without valid documentation. After having served their three-month sentence, they were detained for an additional period of six years. •The Supreme Court held that Rohingyas are a threat to national security and have ties with Islamic militant groups which can potentially harm India.

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