Fleeing violence at home, Rohingya Muslims face difficulties in India, Nepal, Bangladesh
There seems to be no end in sight to the plight of Rohingya Muslims as those members of the community who have fled persecution in Myanmar are now facing difficulties in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
The Indian government announced on Saturday that it would make a case to the country’s Supreme Court for the expulsion of up to 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who have arrived over the past 10 years, claiming that they are a security threat.
The move has faced strong opposition from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein and civil rights campaigners.
According to the UN, there are 16,000 Rohingya Muslims registered in India and many more are still undocumented. Officials say nearly 7,000 of the Muslims live in shanties in Jammu in the Indian Himalayas.
Reports say 47 families live in dilapidated structures at the Kanchan Kunj camp in New Delhi.
“I would rather have the [Indian] government kill us or put us in jail than have us deported back there (Myanmar),” a Rohingya residing in India said. “If we go back there, they will cut us into pieces and stack us 10-15 people together and set us on fire.”
In Myanmar, the Rohingya Muslims face death, torture, and rape by military forces and gangs of Buddhist extremists in the western state of Rakhine, according to reports and eyewitnesses. They have been fleeing bouts of violence in recent months.
The government in neighboring Nepal, meanwhile, is also attempting to prevent the entry of more members of the Muslim minority to the country. Those who have arrived live in slums in northern Kathmandu.
“Nepal has increased surveillance at its border to stop more Rohingya from entering the country after the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar because we cannot bear any more crises,” Nepal’s Home Ministry spokesman Ram Krishna said.
The UN says more than 400,000 desperate Rohingya Muslims have so far fled the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh.
Bangladesh restricts movement of Rohingya
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi police said on Saturday that they had issued an order banning the Rohingya from leaving the areas and camps the government has designated for them in the southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar, where the majority of refugees are living in squalid conditions.
“They should stay in the designated camps until they return to their country,” Sahely Ferdous, a police spokeswoman, said in a statement. “They cannot travel from one place to another by roads, railways, or waterways.”
Rohingya are asked not to take shelter in the homes of their friends or acquaintances, while locals have been asked not to rent houses to the refugees, and bus and truck drivers requested not to transport the Rohingya, according to the spokeswoman.
Bangladeshi prime minister to urge probe in Myanmar
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday summoned the Myanmarese envoy for the third time to protest its neighbor’s actions.
Hasina then headed for the UN General Assembly in New York to plead for international assistance in a bid to cope with the mounting crisis.
“She will seek immediate cessation of violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar and ask the UN secretary general to send a fact-finding mission to Rakhine,” said Nazrul Islam, a spokesman for the premier.
“She will also call the international community and the UN to put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of all the Rohingya refugees to their homeland in Myanmar,” he said.
Myanmar’s government brands the Rohingya Muslims in the country as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh, launching a deadly and brutal crackdown on them. Rohingya Muslims, however, have had roots in Myanmar that go back centuries.
They are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”
The Myanmarese military has been attacking Rohingya Muslims and torching their villages in Rakhine since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August 25, following a number of alleged armed attacks on police and military posts in the troubled western state.
There have been reports of massacres and ethnic cleansing by Myanmarese army and Buddhist mobs against the Muslim population in Rakhine.
Canada ‘to raise issue of Rohingya at UN’
Separately on Saturday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed concern over the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, saying that she will raise the issue and speak up on their behalf at the UN General Assembly next week.
“Based on the reports, this looks a lot like ethnic cleansing and that is not acceptable,” Freeland said at a rally staged in support of the Rohingya by several Canadian Muslim organizations in Toronto.
She added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had expressed his “very strong condemnation” of the treatment of the Rohingya directly to Myanmar’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this week.
Freeland declined to provide details on what she or Trudeau have planned to do at the UN but said the issue was one that both would be “focusing on.”
Another rally in support of the Rohingya is to take place in Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.