'Deporting Rohingya Refugees Most Inhuman Thing Indian Govt Could do'
"Severe persecution started before I was born. From street to school, from market to travel, from healthcare to education, every aspect of life is in extreme persecution, which is systematic and state-directed."
An exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touches the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip. (Reuters)
Dr Hla Kyaw Khubybe is a Rohingya in exile in Holland and the Chairman of the European Rohingya Council. Speaking to News18.com’s Debayan Roy, Khubybe talks of the persecution that Rohingya are facing on their ancestral land:
Being a Rohingya has never been an easy existence. Severe persecution started before I was born in the sense that my mother was not allowed to get prenatal care. From street to school, from market to travel, from healthcare to education, every aspect of life is in extreme persecution, which is systematic and state-directed.
Rohingya are borderland people. They have been living peacefully with Arakanese people in an area called Arakan in western Myanmar for hundreds of years.
The existence of Rohingya in Arakan region dates back to many centuries. There are countless historical documents proving that Rohingya have been living in Arakan with Arakanese-Buddhist people.
I am a Rohingya. I was born in Rakhine in Myanmar which is burning now. Though I am no longer there, my heart continues to burn.
My childhood experience in Rakhine state was the bitterest one. As a student in middle school, discrimination at the hands of fellow students and the teachers became a norm. You would never get a good grade even if you deserved it. Rohingya are considered sub-human, deserving not to be dignified.
I still remember that summer of 2001 when I was invited to a state-level award ceremony after securing the first place in English and ranking fourth in the whole of Rakhine. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to travel to Yangon as I’m a Rohingya.
In all the time that I’ve spent in Myanmar, I used my Burmese name (Hla Kyaw) instead of the name given by my family (Khubybe) to avoid any discrimination during exams. The history of discrimination is long that I could write a book on it. It was never easy; we weren’t even allowed to be a part of Friday prayers during school days.
Myanmar got its independence from the British in 1948. Even though the Rohingya are verifiably one of the ethnic communities in post-independent Myanmar, we were recognised as citizens by four successive governments.
As my countrymen continue to flee their motherland, I hear countries are gearing up to deport Rohingya refugees. India deciding to deport the 40,000 Rohingya refugees, I believe is the most inhumane decision the government could make. How can the people of India allow the deportation of peace-loving Rohingya to a country where children are burning alive and women are raped in hundreds? I believe that the compassionate people of India will stop their government from deporting Rohingya refugees, at least until there is peace in Myanmar.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the Rohingya have any link with terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Islamic State. Rohingya are peace loving people who contribute with all that they have to offer to the country they are living in. They would add value to India if given a chance to grow. India's claim that Rohingya have terror links is based on prejudices, bigotry and it is not very different than Myanmar's view.
The international community must come up with a concrete action plan that puts pressure on Myanmar's Army to change their mindset of hate and discrimination towards Muslims in general and Rohingya in particular. This will happen only if the West and East stop pursuing geopolitical and commercial interest at the expense of a million Rohingya lives, who’ve been victimised by Myanmar's genocidal persecution.
In 1962, after a coup by the military, General Ne Win took power in Myanmar. The military commander hated Muslims, especially Rohingya, and that gradually infiltrated into all government institutions in the country. It soon consumed each and every administrative unit in Myanmar. General Ne Win gradually began to launch several operations against Rohingya. In February 1978, he launched an official ethnic cleansing operation against Rohingya — King Dragon Operations. It continues to this date, just with many names.
In 1982, General Ne Win enacted a new citizenship law carefully designed to outcast all Rohingya. Overnight, Rohingya from being officially recognized citizens and an ethnic community of Myanmar became stateless. Since then, the government started restriction on movement, birth, access to education, marriage, healthcare etc.
Since 1982, the government stopped issuing birth certificates to Rohingya, making every newborn stateless. The government of Myanmar is being extremely deceitful to the international community.
In 2012, the government came up with new operations: burning Rohingya houses, displacing Rohingya and making them a group of displaced people in their own ancestral land. As the United Nations describes it — Rohingya are the most persecuted people on earth.
India's strategic and commercial interest in Rakhine State, at the expense of a million Rohingya lives, gives impunity to Myanmar's Generals in pursuing Rohingya genocidal projects. Rohingya would never be part of any terrorist activity.
In Myanmar, being a Muslim is akin to holding a burning piece of coal in your hands. Rohingya are mainly persecuted because they are Muslim.
— As told to Debayan Roy
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