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‘Floating Coffins’ Of Rohingya Muslims – It’s Either The Mercy Of Sea Or Abuse At Shores

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By P.V. Durga:

In what seems similar to the apartheid in South Africa, the condition of the Rohingya Muslims is nothing but horrifying. Historically, the Rohingya Muslims have been a minority in Burma (now known as Myanmar), and have been denied voting rights and citizenship despite having lived in the Buddhist dominated country for a long time. Today, they are drifting across seas, looking for better shores- literally.

rohingyas

The tension between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists took a violent turn three years ago when reports of Rohingya men raping a Rakhine Buddhist girl came out. Since then, the Rohingyas have been living under strict surveillance in ghettos, where they are denied access to hospitals and education, and the basic necessities are sold to them at “inflated prices”, because they include the cost of bribing the guardians of those goods. Adding to the woes of these inhuman conditions is the fact that the government views them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, and is unwilling to offer them citizenship unless they claim their origin from there; but their roots lie solely in Burma.

In order to escape harassment and find better life somewhere else, the Rohingya Muslims have been taking to the sea and fleeing to Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. On the 11th of May, more than 1000 refugees came to the shores of Malaysia after which Malaysia refused entry. As of 15th May, 800 people were offered refuge in Indonesia while the rest were turned down. The three countries have been stating problems of resource crunches, budget constraints and possibilities of social conflicts as reasons for refusing entry to these migrants. Also, the Rohingya Muslims are facing perils of the sea, and resort to violence and murder during their voyage (in boats that are not “seaworthy”), owing to depleting supplies. They fall prey to traffickers too, who are suspected to be receiving aid from the Thai government for keeping them hostage for a ransom. Even on shores, migrants are maltreated, and sometimes beaten. In a nutshell, Rohingya refugees are treated in two extreme ways- they are either left at the mercy of the sea after refusing entry, or are abused on the shores.

Consequently, the ASEAN has been receiving flak for its lack of involvement in the issue, and the UN has criticized the three nations for refusing shelter to the migrants. Contrary to what popular media has been projecting, it is important that we shift focus to Burma in order to solve the problem, rather than criticize nations for refusing to grant shelter. It is noteworthy that Malaysia, despite not being signatory to any international convention about refugees, has hosted about 150,000 refugees over the years. These countries too are caught in a conflict between humanitarian values and economics. Amidst this, all that the Rohingya Muslims can seek is survival. A respectable life seems like a faraway dream, and all this while, we thought we were living in a “civilized” world.

You must be to comment.
  1. Batman

    UN has labelled Rohingyas as ‘the most oppressed people in the world.’

    Watch the documentary below to see Buddhist terrorism, how Muslims are burnt alive, raped, mutilated, brutally murdered, and watch the mass torture and killings of innocent Muslim men, women, and children. They suffer from diseases but doctors are unwilling to treat them, while children die to malnutrition. According to Washington Post, more than 700,000 Muslims are without medical care, as the government has sided with the oppressors. This oppression is hidden from the world.

    https://youtu.be/dSkZlgk76-E

  2. John Smith

    *Very brief YouTube videos*
    TestTube: What’s Happening In Myanmar?
    youtu.be/g4EWf-Gtw_E

    TestTube: Buddhists Are Killing Muslims In Myanmar
    youtu.be/_HHrIqaI6YM

    *Greed for Ilm Podcasts* (Ilm means knowledge)
    EP6 Myanmar News – Provocateurs Killing Muslims?
    greedforilm.com/myanmar-news-provocateurs-killing-muslims

    EP94 – Dr. Rowley On The Myanmar Muslim Genocide
    greedforilm.com/dr-nora-rowley-myanmar-muslim-genocide

    EP15 – Jamila Hanan talks about Rohingya genocide
    greedforilm.com/jamila-hanan-talks-rohingya-genocide

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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