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Rohinyas: The State Identity Crisis

The Rohingya refugee crisis is a genocidal humanitarian disaster that has grown rapidly in numbers and yet, not everyone is aware of what exactly is happening to these people. This is an intensified conflict between the majority Buddhist Burmese and the minority Muslims who were formerly living in the Rakhine State within the province of Myanmar. The article aims to examine the condition of the Rohingya people and their identity as to who they are, what does their history hold, where do they belong?

In this context, the article conveys the Rohingya refugees being part of India and the challenges confronted on national security in India which lead to its socio-economic complexities. The article also shares an outline of international responses and India's MOU towards Rohingyas. The article highlights the opinion based on the findings that have been clearly stated as to why India needs a concrete refugee policy and law to deal with such a refugee crisis.

The Rohingya tragedy has been the longest conflict that has been subjected to violence and oppression for decades. The unidentified identity of these Rohingya communities has begun an identity crisis in Myanmar which has led to the displacement of a large number of people across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

The Rohingya are considered to be one of the many ethnic minorities which represents the larger ratio of Muslims in Myanmar with the highest population living in Rakhine state. The Rohingya community has its language, culture and said to be the descendants of Arab traders who have been for generations.

A brief timeline that indicates the history and other key events that elevated the scathing and the emergency alert status of the Rohingya refugee crisis:

The main cause for the violent attacks and clashes lies between the Myanmar government and the Rohingya people is because of the religious and ethnic identities.
Year Key Event
1962 The military rule became the supreme law throughout Myanmar. This resulted in the fleeing of refugees to Bangladesh as the Muslim population was overpowered by the militants and Buddhist majority.
1982 Declaration of 135 nationally recognized ethnic groups in Myanmar which excluded the Rohingyas leaving them stateless and denied their citizenship
2012 The violence that broke out in the Rakhine state noticeably targeted a large group of Rohingya community where more than 200 Rohingya people were killed
2014 The first official census was conducted where the Rohingyas were forbidden to take part.
2015 After the easing of military rule, democratic elections were held. The Rohingyas were forbidden to take part as both candidates as well as voters
2016 Armed conflicts in the Rakhine state has led 87000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh
2017 The violence once again broke out and there were series of attacks, gang rapes, deaths that have led to the movement of Rohingya into camps within Cox�s Bazar to which more than 600,000 Rohingyas fled since their communities were destroyed.
2018 An estimation of 781,000 refugees have set up camps in nine settlements within Cox�s Bazar.

Rohingya Refugee In

Rohingya Refugee In India

After years of long denial of asylums and citizenship rights in Myanmar, the humanitarian crisis has been channelized to pervasive discrimination and violent attacks due to which many minorities Rohingya Muslims have escaped or expelled from the Buddhist-majority country to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries including India.

India's longstanding principle of welcoming refugees have been with the highest number of refugees in entire South Asia. India in its 73 years as an independent nation has dealt with one of the biggest refugee crises that started with Partition itself. Statistically, Rohingya Muslims scattered across different states in India, it was also estimated that 40,000 Rohingya refugees lived in India. The Union government considered these people not as refugees but as �illegal immigrants� or �infiltrators�

Challenges Confronted On National Security In India

The Indian administration has challenged to deport 40,000 Rohingyas living in India posing a threat to national security in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, this was in response to a case filed by the Rohingya refugees against the involuntary deportation of refugees. India has customarily adhered to the policy of nonrefoulement as it is neither a signatory of the 1951 UN Convention of Refugees and its 1967 protocol nor possessing a domestic legal framework for refugees.

The Supreme Court in the response has advised the Indian administration �to strike a balance between human rights and national security interest�. While Myanmar has been more approachable to Indian concerns to which India fears that any reproval in Myanmar's treatment towards Rohingyas might affect the growing security of the relationship between the two nations.

The current situation in India is that there is no separate statute for refugees and until now it has been dealing with refugees based on the precedents. The presence of the Rohingya refugees in India has imposed a serious threat to national security ramifications which have led to the serious possibility of eruption of violence against Buddhists who are the citizens of India and who stay on Indian soil by radicalized Rohingyas.

International Responses And India's MOU

Under the International refugee law, the definition of the term refugee is a crucial treaty given by the Protocol relating to the status of refugee. A half-century ago on 4 October 1967, the treaty entered into the force, and 146 countries are the protocol. The Rohingya crisis burst onto the international stage in 2015 where the Myanmar government eliminated down the Rohingya people violently.

Another report by the UN investigators where Myanmar's military was accused of carrying out mass killings and rapes with �genocidal intent�. The Burmese Politician rejected the accusations of genocide when she appeared at the court in December 2019. In January 2020, the court's initial ruling ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures in order to protect the Rohingya from being persecuted and killed. UNHCR is a UN Refugee Agency has asked for renewed support and solutions for displaced and stateless Rohingya communities both within and outside of Myanmar.

India and Myanmar have signed an agreement for socio-economic development. This was the first government-to-government agreement that has been contracted between India and Myanmar has focussed on Socioeconomic development and livelihood initiatives in Rakhine state. Under this MoU, the Government of India proposes to take up, among others, a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State so as to meet the immediate needs of returning people.

To sum up, India needs a concrete refugee policy and law to deal with such a refugee crisis. India's ad hoc refugee policy and strategic legal ambiguity, due to its lack of domestic and international legal restrictions allow states to differentiate between their groups while treating refugees and put other interests over humanitarian concerns. The ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis requires urgent attention. Otherwise, the current ethnic cleansing will mount into full-fledged genocide.

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