By R Vijay:
The past few weeks have seen the Rohingya refugees catching the attention of the world like never before. We got to witness hundreds of people from the neighbouring country of Myanmar fleeing by boat to Bangladesh because of the problem of persecution. The Rohingya refugees have suffered discrimination for generations in Myanmar. Since 1991, large number of Muslims have fled their homes in Myanmar and sought refuge in Bangladesh in order to escape the several brutal crimes against them. Now the situation seems to have worsened not only in the land of Myanmar, but also in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has now begun highlighting its national security and the fact that it is overburdened by the Rohingya refugees due to unprecedented entries. The Bangladesh government withheld food supplies, construction of shelter and imposed other restrictive measures to compel the refugees to return to Myanmar while claiming that they did not have ample resources to provide. In the months that followed, the Rohingyas in the camp continued to oppose Bangladesh’s efforts to accelerate the repatriation process. Despite the clashes inside the camps between the residents and government officials, Bangladesh continues to focus only on imposing further restrictive measures to suppress them and encourage them to leave the country.
The world community and the United Nations seem to be at their worst owing to their powerlessness in dealing with this issue. They continue to be mute spectators, the way they were during the Tamil genocide incident in Sri Lanka. In the past year and as of now, the Rohingya Muslims are truly not protected, right from the parties within the country to the ones abroad. Even the Burmese authorities are silent and are letting the atrocities against Muslims continue. They claimed to have sent their security forces to Arakan, but the forces are not protecting the Rohingya people, in fact they are involved in the violence themselves as is evident from reports.
A continuous demand by the world community to render help for the refugees on a humanitarian basis is still a question considering Bangladesh’s silence and lack of action on the imposed rules. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh are legally obligated to respect and safeguard the Fundamental Rights of people within their borders which clearly includes refugees. Although the legal responsibilities are clear and unavoidable for the two countries, international humanitarian laws are being breached and are not adequate to protect the Rohingyas from abuse and forcible repatriation in Bangladesh and the continued murders, rapes, torture and the ethnic and religious persecutions in Myanmar.
The UNHCR (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) along with international relief agencies should diligently monitor the Rohingyas’ return and resettlement. They should also work to compel the Myanmar army to discontinue its gross human rights violations. The United Nations should work to remove military regime from power and to replace it with a democratically elected government. Only then will justice be meted out.