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The Death of Justice for Rohingyas
by Rohingya Human Rights
2009-03-14 08:26:18
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On Feb 27,2009, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said it will send hundreds of Rohingya boat people back to military-ruled Burma. Meeting at its 14th annual summit, the 10-member bloc agreed to compile and pool information and interviews on the Rohingyas, who washed up on the shores of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia having fled oppression in Burma.
 
thailandia__rohingyia_refugees_400At the same time, quoting the Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win, the Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said, Burma is ready to take back the Rohingya migrants if they can prove they are of Bengali descent, which is a recognised ethnic minority there. Truly, there can be no appropriate word in the vocabulary to denounce such a farcical statement of  the Burmese Foreign Minister. The fact is, the Burmese military regime has snatched away Rohingyas' right to citizenship of Burma simply branding them as the descendants of the Bengalees and thus denied them of their ethnic status.
 
However, on March 28,2008, the then Prime Minister of Thailand Samak Sundaravej said, the Thai Navy is exploring a deserted island to place all the Rohingyas living in Thailand mostly as undocumented refugees. He made the statement after emerging from a two-hour long meeting of the country's National Security Council.
 
And in continuation of such policy, the Rohingya boat people have been recently dumped into the deep sea so that they get perished there beyond anybody's notice. But fortunately or unfortunately, they all did not perish. Some of them survived to draw international attention and thus cause a big headache not only for Thailand but for the ASEAN bloc. So, in order to remove their headache, the ASEAN leaders found it the best way to hand over the Rohingyas to the Burmese army so that they can solve their problem of 'Rohingya headache' once and for all by cutting the heads of the Rohingyas.
 
However, on Jan 27,2009, Thailand said Rohingyas do not face persecution in Burma. They said the Rohingyas caught in Thai waters are illegal immigrants, not refugees, and will never be let into the country.
 
"There is no reasonable ground to believe that these migrants fled from their country of origin for well-founded fear of being persecuted," the government said in a statement defending its treatment of the Rohingya boat people.
 
The definition of 'persecution' might be different for the Thai authority. But the Rohingyas have been fleeing Burma because of extreme human rights violations unleashed by the Burmese military regime to annihilate the entire Rohingya populations from Arakan which is a state under the Union of Burma. They have been subjected to severe persecutions including denial of their citizenship, a ban on marriage without government permission, severe restrictions of movement, religious persecution, extortion, land confiscation and restrictions on access to education. Arakan State is a closed zone for the media and so there is no scope for the world media to cover what is going on on the Rohingyas inside Arakan.
 
However, these unfortunate Rohingya refugee boat people have already suffered a lot. They have come back to life from the mouth of death after passing several weeks in the deep sea without food and water. And hundreds of them have perished in the deep sea after the Thai navy has left around 1,000 Rohingya refugees adrift in the ocean in boats without engine or food or water.
 
Being crowded in hundreds in rickety wooden boats, they have tried to escape persecutions and grinding poverty and washed ashore in Thailand and Indonesia. And again, while fleeing to Thailand, a group of these boat people were intercepted by the Burmese navy and the navy sailed their boat south toward Thailand. The survivors said soldiers from four boats boarded their vessel with wooden and metal rods and beat them.
 
A group of 78 refugees who survived being at sea for a month, then being beaten and burned, and later washed ashore in Thailand were having serious burns and wounds after their boat had been attacked and detained by the Burmese navy and then set on fire in the deep sea. There were many injuries on their backs, legs and many other parts of their body.
 
Later, a Thai court convicted those barefoot, dishevelled Rohingyas on the charge of illegally entry to the country. A Ranong provincial court judge fined each defendant 1,000 baht ($30) a sum that none of them could produce. So he sentenced them to five days in prison. There were twelve minors who were too young to be tried in the court.
 
It is also true that even though the Rohingyas have been continuously mutilated by the Burmese regime from all sides of their life because of their Muslim religion, but their Muslim identity has never been able to draw minimum sympathy of the Muslim countries.
 
Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority-nation of the world. Thailand and Brunei are two powerful Muslim countries of the world. They are also the members of the ASEAN. In order to sign the capital punishment for the Rohingyas for causing headache to them, they have also happily joined their hand with other ASEAN leaders on their decision to hand over the Rohingyas to the military regime.
 
Rohingyas are one of the most liberal Muslim communities of the world. Therefore, they love and prefer to introduce themselves with their secular ethnic name 'Rohingya' which does not bear minimum significance of their religion.
 
But inspite of this, the Rohingyas have been continuously subjected to the worst human rights violations and a systematic genocidal operations because of their Muslim religion and also because of being majority in many townships of Arakan Sate of Burma before ( now Rohingyas are majority only in two townships in Western Arakan ).
 
Through the century-long persecutions, the entire Rohingya community have been reduced to a skeletal human group. Sub-human standard is the standard of their living. Most of them live like packs of rats in a sewer with half naked body which is full of hunger and grief. Most of them appear to be haggard and emaciated. Every day they struggle to arrange two meals a day for themselves and for their malnourished children. They leave their wives and children behind while they set out on perilous sea journey to find refuge and work in some other country.
 
Of course such wretched condition of the Rohingyas is a matter of great amusement for the Burmese military regime. On Feb 9,2009,  the Burmese Counsel Ye Myint Aung in Hong Kong, in a letter to his fellow diplomats, termed the “Rohingyas as ugly as ogres” meaning that the Rohingyas can not qualify as Burmese citizens because of their appearance.
 
“You will see in the photos that their complexion is dark brown,” said the Burmese Counsel, referring to the Rohingya boat people. He went on to describe the complexion of Burmese as “fair and soft, good looking as well.”
 
Once the Rohingyas believed that it is only Burma which is a hell for them and if they can some how escape to somewhere outside Burma or if their luck can help them reach Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia through the sea route, then they will find sanctuary and will be able to save the life of their hungry family. But the decision of the ASEAN leaders have clearly demonstrated that those who will brave to go to them, will be pushed back to the mouth of death of the military regime.
 
There are huge nice and promising words in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also in different international laws or conventions which have been adopted to ensure justice and protection of the persecuted human beings. But for the Rohingyas those words are something like dreams. Their experience has made them clearly understand that those clauses or law or by-laws are not meant for the Rohingyas. They also clearly understand that their cry for justice and human rights will never save their life. They also understand that they were born to live as parasites of the human society. Today, they are forced to believe that it is only 'Pity'..only 'Pity' which can save their life. And that is why one Rohingya boat tragedy survivor Mamoud Hussain, pleaded to the Thai court: “Have pity on us. They [Burmese army] will kill me and my family if I go back.”
 
................................................................
 
Ahmedur Rahman Farooq, an Ethnic Rohingya. Address: 2975 Vang i Valdres, Norway. Email: arahman567@yahoo.com, www.rohingyareview.com

   
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