The Rohingya Plight, photo essay by Kazi Riasat Alve
Rohingya people, an ethnic Muslim community in Myanmar, which is one of the most persecuted stateless communities in the world, a victim of ethnic cleansing mayhem led by Myanmar’s armed forces from last several decades. But this mayhem clearly turned into almost a genocidal state since August 25th of this year. At least more than half million people from this ethnic community have fled inhumane atrocities in the Rakhine state recently, which is a western state of Myanmar. A huge number of these people crossed the border and took refuge to Bangladesh. Most of these recently arrived Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are women, elderly people and children.
The plight of Rohingya people didn’t just start few months back. Under the citizenship law of 1982 in Myanmar Rohingya people were not considered as the citizens of the state. Thus they were barred from basic rights like formal education or healthcare. They no longer had any ground for taking part in civil and political activities legally.
During recent massacre in the Rakhine state villages after villages inhabiting Rohingya people were burnt down, women got raped, children were brutally killed and male members of the families were either abducted by Military forces or brutally got killed. Their assets, cattle were looted by the local Rakhine collaborators of armed forces. These Rohingya people had very few options other than fleeing to Bangladesh with what little they could carry on their backs. According to reports more than eighty percent of the newly arrived Rohingya refugees are women, children and elderly people . Many of the elderly people and children lost their family members and moved to Bangladesh alone. These people are carrying the trauma of horrifying situations they went through.
At least four hundred thousand Rohingyas were already living in both registered and unregistered refugee camps situated in Ukhiya and Teknaf regions of Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. But the number of the refugees just doubled since late August of this year. In these refugee camps basic facilities for living are just scarce. There is lack of food , medicine, and healthcare and so on. International community already considering this situation in the refugee camps as a state of humanitarian emergency. Bangladesh government, Bangladesh Army, UN agencies, NGOs are involved in continuous relief efforts but it has become almost impossible for them to manage the humanitarian disaster in the Rohingya camps.
The incoming wave of Rohingya people in Bangladesh didn’t stopped yet. Myanmar forces have put many landmines in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border area, so that it will be difficult for the Rohingya people to go back to their land someday. Many Rohingya people are losing their lives or getting badly injured while coming to Bangladesh recently.
The Rohingya refugees do not know fate, they do not know in future whether their land will consider them as citizen and thus they’d be able to go back to their homes or not. Other than the that remaining stateless, living a inhumane life in the refugee camps is their only future.
(by Kazi Riasat Alve)