This is an update on the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar (Burma). We haven’t written about them for some time so when I saw this opinion piece in the Daily Star from Dhaka, the Capitol of Bangladesh, I decided to post it to bring readers up to date.
Muslim Bangladesh is pushing fellow Muslim Rohingya back across the border into Myanmar. Where is that much ballyhooed Muslim charity?
A European Parliament resolution passed only last month called on the Bangladesh government to “recognise that the unregistered Rohingyas are stateless asylum seekers who have fled persecution in Myanmar and are in need of international protection.” However, in spite of such calls, the government still continues with its forced repatriation drive. In recent months, border authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown in Bangladesh, pushing over 2,000 Rohingyas back across the border into Myanmar where they are likely to face arrest for leaving their villages without a travel permit.
Citizens of Bangladesh fear job loss, radicalization (Islamic?) and crime with the influx.
Though half of the Rohingya who make their way to Bangladesh are taken in by sympathetic local families until they find their feet, it remains a fragile relationship. Many locals are competing for jobs with the Rohingya (who are often willing to work for less than Bangladeshis) and this often fuels local tensions. Others worry that armed extremist gangs are radicalising the youth of this marginalised, leaderless community, and suspicions of drug smuggling and an increase in petty crime in the camps have been recorded in the local press.
Bangladesh didn’t sign the 1951 UN Convention, the country is poor and so the West needs to help. What else is new?
Bangladesh, like India, Thailand and Pakistan, didn’t sign the 1951 Refugee Convention (the global treaty that defines who is eligible for refugee status and what rights they are guaranteed) and cannot be expected to take on such a massive challenge single-handed. As one of the poorest nations in the world, it doesn’t have the financial resources to cope with such a huge influx of people. However, the Thai boat crisis of 2009 should have made clear that regional solutions are needed to solve this issue. There has to be sustained regional pressure (including from India and China) on Myanmar to stop the ethnic cleansing and to recognise the Muslim Rohingya alongside the other 146 non-Muslim ethnic minorities.
The international community must also help relieve the pressure on Bangladesh by accepting some of the refugees that have already been registered. Since 2006, the UNHCR has resettled as few as 749 Rohingya from the registered camp. Five hundred were relocated in 2009 and another 190 are pending departure for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the US. It’s a rate of departure that barely covers the population growth of 2.9 percent within the registered camp; right now, the system is simply paying off the human interest.
Coming to a town near you? Probably Ft. Wayne is on the list so as to add to the incendiary mix of Burmese they already have!
Oh, here is an idea, maybe rich Saudi Arabia could take in their fellow Muslims. No, that won’t work, I just remembered that Saudi Arabia imprisons and deports Rohingya here.