Plight of the Rohingya Refugees

By Dr. Kazem Jalali, Iranian Member Parliament

 

Old Burma, present –day Myanmar, is a multi-ethnic state with more than 140 ethnic groups, having different languages and customs. In Arakan region, there is the Rohingya ethnic group which has a story differing from the others.

The Rohingya, professing Islam since many centuries ago, are suffering a tragedy unlike any of its kind in the world. They live a life of oppression and injustice. Their rights and resources of their land are plundered. They experience murder, arson and prohibition of their religions practices.

Islam entered Burma through this region by Muslim merchants during the time of the Abbasid Khalif Haroun Al –Rashid in the seventh century AD. An independent state was created in the region and was successfully ruled by 48 Muslim Kings for three and half centuries (1430AD- 1784 AD). These rulers left Islamic antiquities, mosques and schools.

Now, the Rohingya people are imprisoned for seventy years in the biggest prison in the world, i.e the Arakan Prison. Arakan is bordered by the sea and the Bay of Bengal in the West, Himalya mountains in the North. The region also faces a media blackout. No media in the world was able to penetrate the region to convey information about events taking place inside.

This catastrophe has resulted due to the savage policies adopted by the Myanmar government. The army of Myanmar has methodically planned a campaign of genocide to rid the country of the Rohingya Muslims who have already suffered catastrophic experiences in terms of misery, murder, rape of women and girls by officers and soldiers of the Myanmar army, and burning of the Rohingya cottages on the hands of militias.

Discrimination against the Rohingya takes several forms such as denial of their legal and basic rights i.e. education, employment, right to vote, ownership and even getting an identity card.

The harsh situation and suffering faced by these innocent people have forced a large number of them to flee their homeland and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh which has opened its doors to them and received them in the Cox’s Bazar region where more than 700,000 live in refugee Camps.

Therefore, deploying efforts to convince the Myanmar government to accept a peaceful solution is necessary. We entertain the hope that realization of this wish will help our people, the Rohingya Muslims, as well as our brothers in Bangladesh who have shouldered quite a heavy burden of sheltering the refugees. They may not be able to give shelter to more refugees.

The demand of the Rohingya Muslims is not a separatist one, but rather an incessant search for recognition of their identity and the right of decent citizenship. The Rohingya crisis is not only an emergency humanitarian case, but relates also to issues of security, identity and development.

Consequently, unless these challenges are addressed, long-term reconciliation shall always remain a dream rather than reality.

Now, we ask the conscience of the International Community” what action may be taken? How do we help these victimized people? These Rohingya people need international support in order to compel the government of Myanmar to stop the genocide and expulsion of the Rohingya Muslims, and help in their safe and secure return to their homeland. It is our hope that these Rohingya shall go back to their country of origin in dignity and safety.

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