Skip to main content

Rohingya refugee issue continues to hang fire with no early solution in sight: Modi refuses to discuss it with Myanmar leaders

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
The burden of Rohingya refugee influx continues to be mainly on Bangladesh and India. No rich Muslim country has come forward to financially mitigate the problem. They have only lip sympathy for their religious brethren who are today history’s most persecuted and distressed group of refugees. The rest of the world seems quite satisfied by raising the question of human rights violation and leave it at that.
The Prime Minister of India in his talks with Myanmar leaders did not question the refugee issue. He raised the issues of terrorism and security. India’s silence on the question of denying citizenship to Rohingyas was also eloquent. The Myanmar government denies the use of force to displace the Rohingyas from their habitat. It does not stand to logic that nearly half a million Rohingyas will leave their home and hearth suo motto unless they were forced to do so. Nearly two lakh of them are officially in Bangladesh and India, and the rest are scattered in Malaysia, Pakistan and other countries.
There certainly may be radicalised elements among the Rohingyas who support terrorism or the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) may have links with international terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. But to combat them, why should such a largescale assault be launched on the Rohingya population as the Myanmar government has done? Are all Rohingyas terrorists or terrorist supporters? Or is it because their religion is Muslim while Myanmar is largely Buddhist?
Is it the same logic that the BJP government follows here? Does the question of deporting Rohingyas from India stem from the same premise? The Indian Express (7 September) has editorially spelt out: “The truth is that a BJP ruled India seems ready to welcome only Hindu refugees fleeing countries where they are a persecuted minority , the Rohingya being Muslim does not fit the bill”.
The Rohingya refugee issue however is only one aspect of the Rohingya problem. The bigger issue is the denial to their human rights and forcible statelessness imposed on them.
The Myanmar government does not consider the Rohingyas as Myanmar citizens. That is why they are being hounded by Myanmar armed forces. The repression on Rohingyas intensified after a Rohingya militant group ARSA set fire to two police stations and killed 12 security personnel in October 2016. Myanmar considers the Rohingyas as Bangladeshi Muslims who have crossed over to Myanmar.
Yet the fact is that the Rohingyas are an ethnic minority in Myanmar. They had an independent state called Rakhine that existed for many centuries. The over 1.4 million strong Rohingyas have since not only lost their own independent Rakhine state but have been rendered stateless. Yet they have a history extending to 8th century of their own state. The British included Rakhine state in the Arakan province. The Rohingyas took part in Burma’s national affairs and were even elected to Parliament.
The problem really arose after the military coup of General Ne Win in 1962. Myanmar, earlier called Burma, won independence in 1948. Till then the Rohingya problem was not so acute. Only a very few Rohingyas since have been granted citizenship by Myanmar. At the same time Bangladesh does not accept them as Bangladeshis either but feels they are refugees from Myanmar.
It is the military regime that enacted the nationality law and refused to accept Rohingyas as an ethnic minority. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved and a nominal civilian government took office. Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners were released.
Aung San Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from becoming President as her two sons are British nationals despite her party winning majority in the 2015 elections. The military continues to wield considerable clout in the affairs of the state. In short, the democratic government in Myanmar is not yet fully sovereign and cannot really act on its own.
The NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, is faced with a double jeopardy. It can neither overrule the Junta imposed nationality law which is now supported by many Buddhist citizens including from among its own party members nor can it oppose the current ethnic cleansing which is backed by Myanmar armed forces. Not only that the Myanmar economy is also largely controlled by the supporters of the military.
Probably these factors also weighed with Modi while dealing with the Myanmar leaders. He possibly avoided all questions that might impair and jeopardise the position of the Myanmar civilian leaders. He concentrated on security and development assistance. Eleven new agreements were signed.
However, it is not easy for India to develop closer relations with Myanmar. The external trade and internal economic development of Myanmar are largely dominated by China. The Kyaukhphu port and gas pipeline running through Myanmar to Kunming are being built by the Chinese besides other economic projects. One-third of Myanmar’s external trade is with Chine while with India it accounts for a measly 7 per cent.
Myanmar has been India’s neglected neighbour though it has been providing some developmental assistance. But the Indian bureaucracy’s lackadaisical attitude coupled with India’s notorious delay in execution of projects impeded any rapid progress. It is now expected that assistance for security and development including the Kaladan multi-modal transport corridor will get a boost and the time frame will be adhered to. India has also shown a nice diplomatic gesture by offering gratis visa to Myanmar citizens who wish to visit India.
India has made additional commitments in several areas. These include projects on education, health, agriculture and allied activities, agro-processing, community development, construction of small bridges, up-gradation of roads, small power projects, livelihood activity, setting up of training centres, promotion of household crafts, conservation of environment and cultural heritage.
One has to wait and see how these commitments shape up. Meanwhile the Rohingya refugee issue continues to hang fire with no early solution in sight!

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Kailash Satyarthi NGO makes slum kids laud RSS founder Hedgewar as freedom fighter

By Rajiv Shah  In a move which may raise many an eyebrow, a Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported child rights NGO has celebrated Prime Minister Narendra Modi-intitiated Har Ghar Tiranga by commemorating 75 freedom fighters by "narrating their famous deeds and chanting slogans of each leader", including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai and a person who had little or nothing common with the freedom movement -- RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. A communique from the Kailash Satyarthi Childrens Foundation (KSCF), which organised the event, said among the freedom fighters celebrated by 75 children on the occasion of 75 years of India's independence placing photographs of each freedom fighter included that of Hedgewar, who is alleged to have maintained a distance from Indian Independence movement led by Gandhiji. According to Hedgewar's biography, when Gandhiji launched the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Hedgewar sent information ev

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Gujarat's 'low-key' communalism: right-wing groups compete for anti-Muslim space

By Rajiv Shah  Noticing the emergence of a novel trend, a just-released report based on a fact-finding team's observations following its interaction in particular with Hindu and Muslim political activists, administrators and police officials, has claimed that a major reason why chasm between the two communities in Gujarat has lately reached new heights is, a veritable competition between Hindu right-wing groups and leaders to capture the existing communal space. Titled "Hindu Right, Communal Riots and Demolitions: Emerging Pattern of Communal Riots in India", the report has been prepared against the backdrop of what it calls "low intensity" communalism which has characterised rioting in Gujarat in the recent past, especially after the 2002 communal carnage, one of the worst in Independent India. Especially focusing on riots in two Gujarat towns, Himmatnagar and Khambhat, which took place on April 10, the day clashes broke also out in different parts of India on

Gujarat govt 'contradicts' MHA memo while freeing Bilkis Bano gangrape convicts

By Our Representative  The All-India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah "must answer for the decision to free Bilkis Bano's gang rapists." In a statement, AIPWA has wondered, "What was the basis of the Gujarat Government’s decision to free those men on August 15, 2022, to celebrate what the PM Modi calls India’s Amrit Kaal? Was remission and freedom a reward for rape and murder of Muslims?" The statement comes amidst an Ahmedabad-based legal rights non-pofit, which took up the cause of Bilkis Bano and fought her case right up to the Supreme Court, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), suggesting that the Gujarat government move to allow remission to the convicts contradicts the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Guidelines for Granting Special Remission to Prisoners on August 15, 2022 (75th anniversary of Independence), January 26, 2023, and again on August 15, 2023. Citing the MHA notificat

Need to ask at today's 'critical juncture' of India's history: Whose Freedom@75?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The official propaganda states that: “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of independence and the glorious history of it's people, culture and achievements. This Mahotsav is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey but also hold within them the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The official journey of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commenced on 12th March 2021 which started a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of independence and will end post a year on 15th August 2023.” So as India completes a landmark seventy-five years of freedom – a platinum jubilee – the only question one needs to ask at this critical juncture of the country’s history is “whose freedom@75?” Since March 2020, it has been a di

Har ghar tiranga: will the hungry bellies raise their hand to unfurl the national flag?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians are going to unfurl the tricolour to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's Independence on 15th of August 2022. Indian freedom struggle has not only shaped India as a modern constitutional democracy but also shaped the nature of state, society and citizenship. The anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle were the four pillars of Indian freedom struggle that laid the foundation of a sovereign nation state promised to pursue a society based on socialist, scientific and secular values to ensure egalitarian citizenship rights without any form of discrimination. These inalienable values are central to the unity, integrity, peace, prosperity and progress of India as a multicultural society and secular state. It is time to celebrate these values and promises of Indian independence, a product of struggles and sacrifice of millions of working-class people across the country. India at 75 is still a young nation but old e

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil