Rohingya, like any other persecuted community, deserve humanitarian treatment

At a time  when the military has once again taken over the reign of the Myanmar and  also when the junta is facing backlash from the several countries, the United Nations can play an important role by invoking clauses of human rights. Since 1970 Rohingya have been displaced and were taking refuge in the neighboring Bangladesh, but the atrocities on the minorities became very obvious when the Myanmar government rendered them stateless. Recently, The Supreme Court of India denied the release of the Rohingya held up in jails in Jammu and ordered that they can’t be deported without due process.

About 40,000 of Rohingya are currently residing in India and only 15 were last deported.  But what should these poor souls do and where should they go?  The Amnesty India regretted India’s decision to deport Rohingya and called for co-operation.

“India has been a generous host to refugees through centuries and it will be in consonance with Indian tradition if the government and its people show magnanimity for this community  and extend asylum  and all possible  support for dignified existence.  It must be noted that refugees all through different countries and in history have made valueless contributions to the economy, society, and scientific knowledge of host countries. Some famous examples are Einstein and Dalai Lama to name a few,” says Mazher Hussain, Executive director, COVA Peace Network.

Every country has both minorities and majority communities and it is the responsibility of the host country to protect each person as long as he or she is residing within their borders with due respect to the laws of the land.  Why are Chakmas refugees protected when Rohingya are denied the same treatment?

The atrocities they are also facing in their refuge countries, why?

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,” is enshrined in the UN declaration of  Human Rights 1948 and supported by 1951 convention relating  to the status of refugees and protocol relating to the status of refugees.

Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia are the countries  where these people are seeking asylum after getting ditched by their own  country.

Many Rohingya struggle to meet basic needs in refugee camps in Bangladesh and face mental health-related concerns that appear linked to such challenges.  This is the systematic human rights violations, traumatic events, daily stressors, and mental health symptoms. More to this, they are considered as unwanted, illegal immigrants and aggressors. The economic condition of Rohingya in Bangladesh camps is grim. In search of better livelihood, they have been taking risky sea voyages to South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and as far as to Australia.

Many Rohingya have been trafficked via Thailand to various countries to work as bonded labour. Many of them have died on the high seas and were killed while crossing the Thailand-Malaysia border.

These minorities should get assistance under established principles of international refugee law, human rights law, and humanitarian law. They should not be forced to return to Myanmar until their safety is ensured.

In India, the new citizenship bill seeks to provide citizenship to non- Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Act does not include Rohingya, who are termed  as the most persecuted minority in the  world. So how is it justifiable when one   minority is given citizenship while the other is denied the same right?

The home country should immediately stop ethnic cleansing and take back their  people with respect and honor.  The countries who are receiving influx can   enter into bilateral agreements with other countries for the economic security of Rohingya.  Diplomatic initiative has to be undertaken taking it as a global issue. Humanitarian support has to be provided and legal status has to be given to these wretched people.

Fatima Hasan is a Hyderabad based journalist

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