Mumbai: Rohingya Muslims are World’s most persecuted people, only 1.1 million living in Myanmar. They live predominately in Rakhine state where they have co-existed uneasily alongside Buddhists for decades. They denounce themselves as descendants of Muslims, perhaps Persian and Arab traders who came to Myanmar generations ago are currently stateless and unwanted.
On 25 August, violence broke out in northern Rakhine state when militants attacked government forces. In response, security forces supported by Buddhist militia launched a “clearance operation.”
The Myanmar government repeatedly kept denying the accusations of “ethnic cleansing”. In the month of June, they mentioned that they would not cooperate with a UN investigation focusing on allegations of killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims.
It was clearly visible thousands of Rohingya’s have fled ethnic violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with thousands crossing through Bangladesh into India since the 1980s. About 40,000 got settled, more than 16,000 of whom were registered with the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
Last year, the military operations that were carried out against Rohingya villages were so intense and cruel that the minority’s defenders warned of an unfolding genocide.
Formerly in the beginning of this month, India’s ministry of home affairs sent a letter to each of the country’s state governments to identify and deport all illegal immigrants, including Rohingya refugees.
While, the Supreme Court on Friday has agreed that on 4 September it will listen to the plea against deportation of illegal Rohingya Muslim immigrants to Myanmar on several grounds, including violation of international human rights conventions.
The government had accused international aid workers of helping “terrorists” besiege a village in Rakhine state. Aid workers, who fear for their safety, condemned the claim as dangerously irresponsible.
The plea said, “This act would also be in contradiction with the principle of ‘Non-Refoulement’ which has been widely recognised as a principle of Customary International Law,” hinting direction to the government not to deport them and so the other members of Rohingya community.
In addition, Madhurima Dhanuka, coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s prison reforms programme said that deporting the Rohingyas to Myanmar was “legally, procedurally and practically impossible.”
“Rohingyas are not merely economic illegal immigrants, but people who have been forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution,” she said. “This distinguishes them from other illegal immigrants who the government has the authority to deport or prosecute.” she added.
On the other hand, Burmese authorities as illegal, interloping Bengalis, claimed facing apartheid-like conditions that deny them free movement or state education while government forces intermittently drive out and slaughter them.
The death toll inevitably rose after Burma, also known as Myanmar, blocked UN agencies from delivering vital food, water and medicine supplies to 250,000 Rakhine residents desperately in need.
Officially, though it was reported that close to 400 people had died by early September, however human rights activists claim to have confirmation of at least 1,000 deaths and believe the figure is much higher than can be seen.