The Rohingya: a People Caught in the Crossfire

  • | Sunday, 15 July, 2018
The Rohingya: a People Caught in the Crossfire

     The Rohingya population, who have fled their country to escape the persecution and brutality of the Burmese authorities, at whose hands they were put to the scourge of murder, burning, torture and rape, are still suffering, but this time in a land other than their homeland that gave them every reason to flee in hopes of moving to a safer terrain. The figures indicate that nearly 700,000 Rohingya people have taken refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017, in addition to 300,000 others who, before that date, had been forced to leave their homeland, Rakhine, in phases for the same reasons during the last three decades. As though destined to go through eternal suffering, the Bangladeshi authorities demanded that Burma must reclaim their refugees. Meanwhile, the Burmese authorities consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants who are not entitled to any citizenship rights, including the acquisition of the Burmese nationality.
The sufferings of the Rohingya have extended to their refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. There have been reports of many inscrutable killings in the camps, which have intimidated hundreds of thousands of refugees. Nineteen people, some of whom are community leaders, have been killed in the camps since the beginning of the crisis in August. Bangladesh police have announced a number of arrests alongside the investigations into these killings, but the motives and reasons for such crimes are not usually reached through the investigations. Witness testimonies indicate that these incidents are often committed by gangs of men carrying firearms, knives and sticks, and that they happen in the dark because, although the army guards the camps during the daytime, the presence of the police in the evening is limited. The crimes prompted Iqbal Hussain, the police chief in the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar, to announce that a special force of 2400 men had been formed to guard the camps. Another senior police official, Aphrogol Haute Totol, said the number of police was increasing and that we now have 1,000 policemen to take care of a million people.
In addition to these murder crimes, the humanitarian situation in the refugee camps marks a humanitarian disaster after the fall of the heavy monsoon rains, sending an influx of water carrying many diseases and epidemics into the refugee camps. The camps lack basic sanitation-such as lavatories-and clean drinking water. Observers have reported unpleasant smell from the camps for these reasons, and some diseases have already begun to spread among refugees, especially children, among whom diarrhea has become widespread. The observers believe that all these realities may lead to a major health disaster, and that it is imminent.
A breakthrough of the Rohingya crisis does not seem imminent as the tragic situation is still ongoing and the flow of refugees from Myanmar has not stopped. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein, stated that the Rohingya Muslims are still fleeing Rakhine State steadily because have witnessed the killing of their loved ones and the burning of their homes and villages within the practices of ethnic cleansing. Al-Hussein said that the number of Rohingya who had fled to Bangladesh this year was 11432. Reports revealed that Myanmar authorities are exercising great pressure on returning Rohingya refugees to accept identity cards which stipulates that they need to apply for citizenship and citizenship rights. The Rohingya crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history. Between a country where they lived for centuries and denied them citizenship rights, and another that has been their refuge for decades and wants to send them back to where they came from, the Rohingya Muslims are still caught in the crossfire, and unless the stakeholders, human rights organizations cooperate to find a way out of this dilemma, hundreds of thousands of innocent people will continue to face the danger of annihilation.


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