Who are Rohingya Muslims?
An ethnic group of Muslims that is often called as the most persecuted minority in the world, Rohingya Muslims are a majority of people who speak a dialect of their own that is different than the language spoken in the country of Myanmar living in the western province of Rakhine. About 1.1 million Rohingya living in the Southeast Asian countryof Myanmar are not considered among the 135 official ethnic groups and have been rejected citizenship since 1982 thus effectively leaving them stateless. Also, the Rohingya Muslims dwelling in the state of Rakhine have been restricted any movement without government permissions and is considered as one of the poorest states that lack basic amenities and opportunities.
Where are they from and why are they not considered?
According to sources, Rohingya Muslims have been living in the area since 12th century. As stated by the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, the Rohingya Muslims have been in the Arakan area since time immemorial, where Arakan is referred to the Rakhine state of Myanmar. As per Human Rights Watch, the significant amount of migration from India to today’s Myanmar and Bangladesh during the years of British rule (1824-1948) was considered internal since Myanmar was administered by the British as a province of India. Negatively viewed by the majority, the migration of labourers after independence was considered illegal and hence refused the citizenship to the Rohingya majority, as per the 2000 report of Human Rights Watch. After the independence of Myanmar from the British rule, according to the Union Citizenship Act, the ethnicities could entitle citizenship. But as per a 2015 International Human Rights Clinic report, Rohingya Muslims were not included. Initially, Rohingya Muslims were given citizenship for those who had families living at least for two generations, and during this time, many also served in the parliament. But after the military coup in 1962 in Myanmar, there were drastic changes for the Rohingya. The opportunities for education and jobs were restricted since they were only given foreign identity cards. Again in 1982 a new citizenship law was passed as per which, the Rohingya Muslims were stateless. As a result, their rights were limited to marry, travel, work, study, practice their religion or access health services.
Where have the Rohingya Muslims fled to from Myanmar?
From the 1970s, the crackdowns enforced on the Rohingya have resulted in hundreds of thousands to move in to the neighbouring Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and various Southeast Asian countries. According to the reports of the United Nations, over 168000 Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar since 2012. Also, according to the International Organisation for Migration, since October 2016, over 87000 Rohingya Muslims have sought shelter in Bangladesh due to the violent break out the previous year. Many RohingyaMuslims have also tried to enter Malaysia by means of a boat through the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Over a 1000 people have been killed and 500000 Rohingya Muslims have left for the neighbouring countries since the beginning of violence in Myanmar.
What is ARSA?
ARSA is the abbreviation of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army that was previously known as Al-Yaqeen Faith Movement that states its obligation to defend, salvage and protect the Rohingya. The ARSA group of people says to do “with our best capacities as we have the legitimate right under international law to defend ourselves in line with the principle of self-defence. Inspite of the rejections stated by ARSA, the Myanmar government considers the community a terrorist organisation.
What is the solution to the overall challenge of the Rohingya?
Through all the bad times, there is a scope of hope for the Rohingya Muslims since the formation of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state. Kofi Annan, former secretary general of UN, is supposed to head the nine-member commission. The Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is no doubt not answering the awkward questions asked in favour of Rohingya Muslims. People are questioning the Nobel laureate for her help to those suffering. The state of Rakhine is increasingly segregated now and the commission is now the sole hope for the Rohingya. The recommendations and solutions put forward by the commission either will change the game or will bring more trouble.