Tucked away in various corners of the world there are still peoples who are little recognized in the world, with scarcely a right to live anywhere. Many of them are distrusted because they have to survive by working in the margins of society. Often they are abused.
AlJazeera [thank you AlJazeera!] has been running a series of articles about a group that few of us ever heard of, the Rohingya. It seems that they are unwelcome everywhere. And of course they have a history of conflict with various other peoples, so they are regarded as troublemakers and on such grounds are abused. Subir Bhaumik, in his latest report calls them “the world’s most forgotten people.” Here are some of the things he says about them.
Bangladesh’s Awami League-led coalition government wants to send back all the
Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
“They are Myanmar
citizens and we have sheltered them long enough. Now they must go back and
settle down in Myanmar,”
The Awami League … see
the Rohingya as religious bigots who support their rivals in Bangladesh’s
Islamic party, the Jamait-e-Islami.
Unwanted now in an
the Rohingya are also not wanted in their own country, Myanmar. Even
President Thein Sein has said on record that the Rohingyas are migrants from
the Chittagong region of neighbouring Bangladesh and not indigenous to Myanmar, so
they should be taken away to some other place.
The president is supported by many of his countrymen in his perceptions that the Rohingya are
“dangerous trouble-makers” and “Islamic Jihadis”. In late
July, dozens of Burmese in Yangon chanted slogans in front of a UN office in
Yangon: “Go back Rohingya, get out of Myanmar, we support our
president”. They blamed the Rohingya for the recent riots in Rakhine
(formerly Arakan) state, though UNHCR officials say the Rohingya have suffered
much more than the native Rakhines.More
than 60 of the nearly 80 killed in the riots in Rakhine state this summer are
Rohingya. The riots started after Rohingya men were accused of raping a Rakhine
woman, and spread when angry Rakhines went on a killing spree.
And nearly 100,000 of them have been displaced from their homes and
herded into makeshift camps.
The Buddhist Rakhines
and the Muslim Rohingya have a long tradition of intense hostility that goes
back to the steady flow of Muslim immigrants from Bengal’s Chittagong region
into Arakan province, migration that was encouraged by the British. Thousands
of Rakhines and Rohingya died in riots in Arakan in 1942 during the Second
World War. The Japanese also massacred large number of Rohingya because they
supported the British.
… the Rakhines and
the Burmese military junta … unleashed “Operation
King Dragon” in the Rohingya-dominated areas of Arakan in 1978. The mass torture and extra-judicial
killings, gang rapes and demolition of mosques forced nearly one-third of the
Rohingya population to flee to Bangladesh.
From there, many of them moved into India
enroute to Pakistan and
elsewhere in the Middle east.
…thousands of them have
been migrating to Pakistan
through India from the
refugee camps in Bangladesh.
During the course of her research, she found a lot of Rohingya women in the red
light districts of Karachi
and many Rohingya men in the port city’s thriving fishing industry.
After the prospects of migrating to Pakistan
and the Middle East began to dry up, Rohingya turned towards Malaysia, travelling there through Thailand.