The Rohingyas are of the Muslim religion in Myanmar who are “stateless entities” even though the Rohingyas’ ancestry can be traced back to the Rakhine State, formerly known as Arakan, in Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has refused to recognize the Rohingyas as citizens, which gives space for their legal persecution. Except snatching away their core rights, their movement in the country is restricted, they do not have access to health, education, economy and numerous other rights, which forces them to be in the poverty cycle perpetually.
In 1982, when the Myanmar government decided to renew the list of the ethnic categories, the record did not include Rohingya. The discriminatory 1982 citizenship law allows only those people to access citizenship who can trace their residence in the country before 1823. The Rohingyas are called “Bengalis” and are treated as illegal migrants in Myanmar, insinuating that they came to the Rakhine State as part of the British East India Company’s augmentation into Burma.
The current Rohingya Crisis is not an isolated event, instead, it is a result of a series of events leading up to a full-blown crisis which is now affecting various countries, namely, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Thailand, India, Bangladesh and much more.
The rape and murder of a Rakhine-Buddhist woman, allegedly by two Rohingya men triggered Rohingya-Buddhist clashes. The repercussions of these clashes — burning of several Rohingya villages, and migration of 1,40,000 into Bangladesh. October 9, 2016, saw another clash between the police and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). 9 Myanmar policemen were killed on the border with Bangladesh, these killings were claimed by ARSA. This claim widened the already enormous gap between the Rohingyas and the State machinery. There have been innumerable tiffs between the other “identified” ethnic groups (read: Buddhists) and the Rohingyas which have led to an increase in their feelings of frustration and alienation.
In 2015, when the Rohingyas were bestowed with voting rights, there were widespread protests from the Buddhists which lead to the then-president Thein Sein canceling their temporary identity cards, effectively revoking their newly gained right to vote. Furthermore, Additionally, it has been observed and reported that the country-wide, anti-Muslim sentiments make it difficult for the government to take any steps for the betterment of the Rohingyas.
The discrimination against the ethnic group has been institutionalized through the various restrictions that have been imposed on them that curtails their personal freedom. For instance, a Rohingya couple is not allowed to bear more than 2 children, they have to seek permission to marry and travel outside their township. Rakhine State is the least developed state in Myanmar with 78% poverty, poor infrastructure, widespread illiteracy and lack of employment which clearly indicates the disinterest of the Myanmar government in Rohingya matters.
The cherry on top was the recent August 25 attack on police posts and army bases, that has been claimed by the ARSA which has generated a harsh response by the Myanmar security forces which has led to 2,50,000 Rohingyas feeling to the neighboring countries to save their lives. The violence against Rohingyas by the security forces has raised worldwide protests as it violates major UN Human Rights. The wide-scale Rohingya migration to Bangladesh, Thailand, India, etc has led to various cross-border conflicts as this unchecked migration creates security and economic crisis for the nations. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto Foreign minister in the Myanmar Government has been condemned for her erring silence surrounding the Rohingya Crisis. There has been a global talk of taking away her Nobel Peace Prize for her cowardly silence and zero action against the never-ending violence against the innocent Rohingyas.
The diplomacy around the issue of the Crisis is surely disheartening. It is clear that no country wants the Rohingyas, they have nowhere to go, and they belong nowhere. Evidently, the Crisis will not be solved anytime soon. Therefore, countries like Thailand and Malaysia are ready to accommodate the Rohingyas for the time being.But on the condition that they will be deported once there is peace in Myanmar. This condition is one of the reasons behind the increasing pressure on the Myanmar government to restore peace so that the neighboring countries do not suffer.