The Walls Are Closing in on the Rohingya

We recently saw the Rohingya relive the trauma of their villages and some of their people being burned back in their home of Burma. On March 23, nearly 50,000 of the over 900,000 residents of the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh were forced to flee due to a fire that ripped through the camp. Fleeing was made more difficult due to the barbed wire fence that surrounded the camp.

This was the third fire in four days, bringing forth calls for more complete investigations into what is going on and why.

The Rohingya’s situation is worsening. Once again, we are seeing the struggle of Muslims in South and Southeast Asia, and most of the world’s unwillingness to do anything of substance about it.

No Place To Go

As previously discussed, the military coup in Myanmar (or Burma) makes prospects for this unlikely. The brutality of the Burmese military, coupled with the misguided calls of protestors to bring back ‘their leader’ Aung San Suu Kyi, who was complicit in the genocidal attempts of her military, leaves the Rohingya with little hope for a smooth and safe resettlement.

Bangladesh, although one of the few places to accept them, has also demonstrated their reluctance to fully deal with the problem. Many are asking why little was done, for example, to stop the fire. Furthermore, while Bangladesh has allowed the Rohingya refuge in their country, a hand that many other Muslim majority countries did not extend, Rohingya do not have refugee status there, which denies them, for example, the right to work, education, and the possibility to apply for residence.

This past December, Bangladesh began sending Rohingya to the remote island of Bhasan Char, despite safety concerns. The island is in the path of deadly cyclones.

Malaysia allowed Rohingya to come until late last year, citing concerns about dwindling resources and economic strain due to the pandemic. It also does not grant refugee status to Rohingya. Even despite the limited conditions under which the two countries are accepting them, both appear to be growing increasingly frustrated with their presence and with this crisis in general.

On top of this frustration, Bangladesh’s increasing ties to India under Modi also demonstrates the precariousness of the Rohingya situation. As noted previously, not only India is unwilling to provide refuge to Rohingya from Burma, a country which shares a border with them, they actively seek to suppress Muslims within their country, such as with their Citizenship Amendment Law.

Writing in India’s The Telegraph, historian Mukul Kesavan pointedly describes what’s behind this:

“Couched in the language of refuge and seemingly directed at foreigners, the CAB’s [Citizenship Amendment Bill’s] main purpose is the de-legitimization of Muslim citizenship. This is why Myanmar, a country bordering India, was left out of the group of nations specified in the bill and this is why Afghanistan, a country that doesn’t share a frontier with India, was included. To include Myanmar, which the logic of the bill demands, given its emphasis on giving refuge to religious minorities in India’s neighbourhood, would mean granting amnesty to Rohingyas, the most famously persecuted minority in South Asia. This would defeat the whole purpose of the bill which is to lay the foundation for a modern Inquisition aimed solely at India’s Muslims.”

Of course, let’s not put any hope in China, another neighbor of Burma, in helping the Rohingya. They continue to commit genocide against the Uyghur and have a lot of money invested in Burma through their Belt and Road Initiative. At this point, it’s probably a blessing that China helping is completely off the table.

The Rohingya have now been in Cox’s Bazar for almost four years. Those of us outside need not forget what’s happening and slide into complacency. The international community has done little to aid the Rohingya, and sadly, Muslim countries are no exception to this. We are grateful for Bangladesh’s hospitality, but the conditions under which the Rohingya are leaving must change.

May Allah aid the Rohingya, reward them for what they are enduring, and may we not forget their struggle.

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Thank you for raising voices for them


Brother, keep up this work. Not enough Muslims like you.