Before we learn about the Rohingya crisis let’s first understand their history. Rohingyas are an Ethnic group who has lived for centuries in Myanmar. While the ethnicity followed in the country is majorly Buddhism, the Rohingyas are mostly Muslim by religion. Their language is Rohingya (which is closer to Bengali). While Rohingyas have lived in the Rakhine state of Myanmar for centuries – they have been denied citizenship since 1982. This is because Myanmar considers them to be immigrants who migrated during colonial rule. Rohingyas are only eligible for citizenship if they produce proof of ancestry to the Myanmar Government.
Most of the Rohingyas are laborers by profession and have tried to migrate to more developed states of Myanmar in search of a better life. This migration was viewed negatively by the majority of the native population.
A History of statelessness:
The Rohingya have been a constant target of the military after they (the military) took over Myanmar in 1962. They have been portraying the Rohingya as a common threat in order to unite the Buddhist population of Myanmar.
The attacks date back to 1978, where the Rohingyas were attacked and their women were raped by the military. This caused 2 lakh Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh and other countries around Myanmar. In 1991, an operation (called operation clean and beautiful nation) caused nearly 2.5 lakh Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. One of the most brutal attacks happened in 2012 when 4 Muslim men were accused of raping a Buddhist woman in Rakhine state. Protests and attacks led to casualties – the local population burned entire Rohingya villages rendering them homeless and stateless.
In 2016, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) retaliated by coordinating a small attack on the Rakhine border against the Myanmar officers. This led to strong retaliation by the Myanmar military causing hundreds of deaths, rapes – leading to an exodus of nearly 9 lakh Rohingya to Bangladesh and neighboring countries since 2017.
Defying the world
While the entire world was acknowledging the plight of the Rohingya and driving efforts to stop the violence, the state chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi (a former noble peace prize winner) refused to even discuss them. Instead, she pushed back the international criticism of ethnic cleansing and in an interview with BBC, she even denied it.
Owing to the outcry of various Muslim majority nations and plights to protect the Rohingyas, the UN court started investigations in 2017. Myanmar today is facing a lawsuit at the international court of Justice. In January 2020, the court’s ruling ordered the country to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingyas from genocide.
Why are the Rohingya currently on Indian news?
After the crises in 2017, nearly 40,000 Rohingya have migrated to India, living mostly in Delhi, Jammu, and Hyderabad. There has been news that some of the individuals from the Rohingya ethnic group may have been the part of Tablighi Jamaat event. It is feared that their migration back into the home states may expedite the spread of the virus. News reports state that 30% of the Indian CoVID-19 cases have been linked to this event.
Understanding the nature of this virus, this 30 % of the cases may lead to higher transmission rates in the population. The center has alerted the states to keep an eye out for the Rohingyas that attended the event. Some states have already identified the links and are ensuring the spread is contained.
To read about CoVID-19 led recession head here.