Bangladesh is the site of ram-shackled refugee settlements for nearly one million Rohingya.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been driven out of Myanmar as a result of the burgeoning violence. They were denied of identity, stripped of human rights, forced from their homes as a result of decades of hostility and oppression. Many more Rohingya remain trapped between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Amnesty International says there is irrefutable evidence of a deliberate campaign to push Rohingya out of Rakhine state.
Stories of executions, rape, mobs torching homes and burning villages, unarmed villagers cut down by soldiers are being told by the fleeing Rohingya. There have been charges laid against the Myanmar political leaders of ethnic cleansing. Myanmar’s military have dismissed these charges but referred to their activities as counter-insurgency operations. However, Myanmar political leaders have prevented any attempts of investigation by human rights investigators of the United Nations. The UNHCR have received multiple reports and satellite
Since 1962, Myanmar governments have stripped Rohingya of their civil and political rights, which includes rights of citizenship. Reports have reached United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) that Myanmar authorities will only allow refugees back in the country if they can provide “proof of nationality”.
The Rohingya refugees arrive at the Bangladesh border exhausted and desperate for aid. As the existing refugee camps are already overcrowded, the refugees are spread out in open spaces and on the road sides.
A spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said, “it’s beyond overcrowded. A few days ago, we thought it was at saturation point. Since then, more people have arrived. And they’re still coming.”
The Bangladeshis welcome them, for now. Over the years, influxes of Rohingya refugees have created an atmosphere of ambivalence amongst the Bangladeshis. They are torn between the urgent need to render support and the apprehension of the magnitude of their sheer numbers.
Bangladesh is a poor country and refugees present a huge problem for them. Bangladeshis struggle to survive themselves. How will they cope with such a large influx of newcomers? However, the refugees have no where to go. In Myanmar, the Rohingya are regarded as a stateless people and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The origins of the Rohingya can be traced back to the 12th century, according to Rohingya groups and many historians. They have occupied an area known as Rokhine, formerly Arakan, situated on the western coast of Myanmar (Burma).
British rule in Burma lasted from 1824 to 1948. Various parts of Burma including Arakan were annexed by Britain during the Anglo-Burmese war in 1824 – 1826, the first of three wars fought between the British and Burmese empires in the 19th century.
In 1852, lower Burma was annexed after a second Anglo-Burmese war.
In 1885, the British annexed upper Burma.
After three wars the British finally occupied all the area of present-day Myanmar, making the territory a Province of British India on 1 January 1886.
On 4th January 1948 Burma achieved independence from British rule. Upon gaining independence, the name Burma was rejected by the ruling junta in favour of the name ‘Myanmar’, due to the implication of the country’s former British Colonial rule.
During the more than 100 years of British rule, a significant number of labourers migrated to what is now called ‘Myanmar’ from India and Bangladesh. The migration of labourers was viewed in a negative light by the native Burmese population.
After Burma became independent in January 1948, tensions between the government and the Rohingya grew. The government contributed to the escalation of tension by treating the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and denied right to citizenship.
May 1978, the Burmese army forcibly evicted 200,000 Rohingya. As a result of the alleged widespread army brutality, rape and murder, the Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh.
1991 – 1992 a second exodus took place. More than 250,000 Rohingya refugees fled religious persecution, forced labour and rape at the hands of the Burmese army. Once again, the Bangladeshi government sheltered the new influx of refugees.
In 2017, almost 400,000 Rohingya refugees surged into Bangladesh. They came from Rakhine State in Myanmar.