PLIGHT OF THE ROHINGYA; searching for solution

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ROHINGYA

ABSTRACT

Has the Rohingyan HUMAN RIGHT crisis been resolved?
While Malaysia and Indonesia’s temporary settlement may save the lives of the thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslim migrants who have been starving on over-crowded boats as monsoon season ramps up, it does nothing to resolve the broader issues behind the crisis. The ongoing persecution of the Rohingya minority by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar government’s denial of citizenship and other rights for the Muslim group are the real underlying issues. Unless these issues are resolved by the international community, the temporary reliefs offered are far from ending the larger crisis. There needs to be sustained pressure from the UN and wider international community on the Myanmar government to pass through legislation that recognises the Rohingya as legitimate citizens, with rights to vote and rights to civil liberties. In other side, the treatment of the Rohingya has wider regional repercussions and has led to an increase of refugees. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 24,000 people left Rakhine State by boat from January to August headed to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. As of December, 131,387 Burmese refugees and asylum-seekers had been registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, of whom 32,611 are Rohingya. UNHCR also note a large number of people of concern who remain unregistered. The status of Rohingya refugees transiting Thailand has also come under particular scrutiny. In early 2013, several thousand Rohingya were arrested and detained, some in extremely cramped and unsanitary conditions. Media and NGO reports alleged that Rohingya refugee boats were towed out to sea, boats were shot at, Rohingya were smuggled, and some officials were handing Rohingya to human traffickers. Local journalists are facing criminal defamation charges in Thailand for citing one of these reports. Yet no one should feel confident that the migrant crisis at sea has been resolved. The struggle against smugglers will lead to some routes being closed down but, just as quickly, other more expensive and dangerous routes will open up. While the desire of people to escape persecution and poverty remains, and avenues for immigration are closed, smugglers will continue to have a market. And unless conditions in Myanmar change radically, the plight of the Rohingya will keep troubling the region. Resettlement offers short way out of the current situation for a million marginalized Rohingya in Myanmar. The hopes for incoming several solution from this conference could be the great applied approaches in order to help Rohingya people and other parties that involved. As a result, we are called to hold an international conference on the plight of Rohingyas issues in order to find the innermost better solution for them for the sake of human right. Namely as International Conference on Rohingya; Searching for a solution.

BACKGROUND ISSUES Who are Rohingyas?
The Rohingyas are a distinct Muslim ethnic group who are effectively stateless and have been fleeing Myanmar for decades. The Rohingyas maintain they are descendants of Arab traders who have been in the region for generations but Myanmar’s government states they are not a genuine ethnic group but are actually Bengali migrants. They also live in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights and are heavily restricted. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor with no documents or job prospects. They are stateless Muslims.

What has been the situation of Rohingyas in Myanmar?
The crisis of Rohingyas is not new. For the last 50 years, Myanmar governments have been introducing policies to repress the Rohingya. In June and October 2012 there were large scale attacks on Rohingyas. Even the Buddhist monks and the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi who herself spent considerable time in exile, has not condemned violence against the Rohingyas. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands were made homeless during three months of inter-communal rioting between Buddhist and Muslim gangs in western Burma in 2012. The systematic campaign of persecution, violence and exclusion has led many activists to argue that Rohingya are the victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The UN has described them as among the world’s most persecuted people. An estimated 68,000 have been living in appalling conditions after they were forced out of their homes. Consequently, in the past three years more than 120,000 Rohingyas have boarded ships to flee abroad, according to the UN refugee agency.

Why are Rohingyas stranded at Sea?
As many as 8,000 Muslim migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar are believed to be stranded at sea. Traditionally, the smugglers have taken them to camps in southern Thailand and effectively held them at ransom. The smugglers who arranged the journeys often misled, exploited, extorted, enslaved or sold their charges. But, the plight in Myanmar was so catastrophic, the Rohingyas were prepared to take this immense risk. However, recently, the Thai government has begun a crackdown on smugglers and consequently the smugglers are now reportedly abandoning the Rohingyas at sea. For many weeks, Rohingyas have been in the sea without much or any food and no shelter. Seeking to escape grinding poverty, violence and humiliation, Rohingyas have finally arrived in Malaysia and