The vast majority of Rohingya, seek to be repatriated to our homes in Burma but only after proof that full rights and citizenship will be granted. Distressingly, this dream of safe return grows dimmer each passing year.
Mohammed Husson Ali Rohingyas
I am a Rohingya man, now living in the United States. I keep a very close watch of all news related to the Rohingya and my frustrations concerning our continued persecution are growing. Recent stories of dangerous and fatal sea crossings by Rohibgya seeking a better life tear my heart. I, like the vast majority of Rohingya, seek to be repatriated to our homes in Burma but only after proof that full rights and citizenship will be granted. Distressingly, this dream of safe return grows dimmer each passing year.
Here are just a few headlines in the last few weeks:
Rohingya refugees reach Indonesia after month at sea (BBC)
Second boat with 185 Rohingya arrives in Indonesia’s Aceh (Al Jazeera)
UN says 2022 among deadliest years for Rohingya at sea (Al Jazeera)
U.N. urges countries to help Rohingya at sea as hundreds land in Indonesia (Reuters)
Displaced from Myanmar: Can’t Go Back and Can’t Go Forward (The Diplomat)
Nearly 200 starving Rohingya refugees rescued from stricken vessel (CNN)
Myanmar: Action needed to stop carnage, says UN expert after adoption of Security Council resolution (UN press release)
Myanmar arrests 112 Rohingya ‘without documents’ (Bangkok Post)
The Rohingyas are indigenous people of Northern Arakan (Rakhine) State, Burma, an ethnic minority group. According to the United Nations and most humanitarian rights advocacy organizations the Rohingya are the most persecuted people in the world. Rohingyas have been facing persecution and genocide since 1962 military coup. In 1982 the Burma Citizenship Act of 1982 erased the Rohingya as citizens of Burma (Myanmar). Those in power use the derogatory words “Kalla” or Bangali, referring to the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite the fact Rohingya have been in Burma for many hundreds of years, pre-dating British colonization. Then, in 2017 the Myanmar military and the NLD (National League for Democracy) government accelerated the persecution and initiated a genocidal clearance operation against Muslim Rohingya. This included arbitrary arrests, extra Judicial killings, orders to “shoot on sight,” burn villages, rape and kill women and other horrific abuses. The fact of this genocide has been officially recognized by the US Department of State, the UN, and the International Court of Justice.
The Burmese military attack on the Rohingya had explicit and violent religious overtones and included the widespread attack on mosques and madrasa, and purposeful desecration of Holy Book Koran. The Buddhist majority Tatmadaw stated, “If they’re Bengali, they’ll be killed”.
In August of 2017 more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh and for the last five years have lived as refugees in the Kutupalong refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar. As of 2022 there are now a total of 1.5 million Rohingya are residing in Bangladesh, most arriving in 2017 but many who fled Burma in the last 30 years. There are also more than 150,000 Rohingya languishing in open air prisons as internally displaced (IDPs) within the borders of Myanmar. Additionally, the Rohingya diaspora include many tens of thousands of Rohingya scattered across the south Asia nations with no rights, even for employment, making them vulnerable to exploitation, arrest, and human trafficking.
Here are some additional facts.
The United States has provided critical humanitarian emergency funding for the Rohingya refugees including $1.9 billion since it began in August 2017. The United States is the biggest international donor among others
On 21 March 2022 on behalf of United States US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken declared that the Burmese military had and continued to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya.
In late December, 2022 President Joe Biden signed the The Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2022 – or BURMA Act – which was passed by the Senate as part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
As a Rohingya man I believe I speak for the vast majority of all Rohingya in offering very many thanks to the United States for its continued generosity and ongoing policy decisions supporting humanity and dignity for the Rohingya people.
For the above reasons, I respectfully appeal to the Biden administration to move forward with urgency on the following;
To involve even more aggressive use all diplomatic and economic tools to once and for all end the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
To work for the rights, liberty and justice of Rohingyas including an internationally monitored repatriation to Myanmar with full citizenship and an assurance of absolute safety. We seek the creation of a ‘Safe Zone’ for the Rohingyas within Arakan State in the Rohingyas ancestral homeland under supervision of United States.
Using the UN language, to take “Responsibility to Protect” Rohingyas, safe lives and liberty.
To provide technical support and training to Rohingya and facilities for basic human rights including access to education, health care, food security and other livelihoods both now in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and after repatriation in Myanmar.
More than five years have passed since the 2017 genocide and justice has yet to be done by the international community. Though the United States has frequently led the fight for justice, more needs to be done before more desperate acts are committed by Rohingya seeking to be free from living in an open air prison that is the world’s largest refugee camp.
How the world responds to the most egregious crime of all -genocide- is a measure of our collective humanity. I cannot rest until I have done everything possible to seek justice for my fellow Rohingya, and I humbly request that the US government travel the same path toward a more just world for all humans.
Sindh Courier has received this appeal of Rohingya through Mr. Nazeer Ahmed Arijo, an educationist and a freelance contributor.