There is a distinct act that you associate with the word “home”. To some it’s sprawling before the television while chanting the names of varied football players. To others it’s trudging in the farm whilst wiping glimmering sweat from their foreheads. To others, home is associated with scrumptious meals whipped up by either of their parents. What all homes happen to have in common is the reselient feeling of safety. You see, home is where you feel warm and secure, a place where being you is not only allowed but also embraced. Home doesn’t have to be where you were born or where you were raised, it can be anywhere you feel belonging. Sadly, there are people who have never grasped this concept, the concept of being home.
Recently the Rohingya community has been in the news following suspicions of a recurring genocide. Who are the Rohingya you ask? Well, this group of people are a part of the plethora of ethnic minorities that reside in Myanmar. The UN describes them as one of the most discriminated people globally. This conclusion is not at all subjective.
There is undeniable proof that the Rohingya have suffered the most heinous of attacks in the very place they refer to as home.
At the start of 2017, their numbers ranged between 900, 000 to 1000,000. These numbers dwindled significantly during the war lodged against them in the same year. Rohingya Muslims form the majority of Muslims in Myanmar. They have a uniqueness becrusted amidst them. They happens to possess their own language and culture. They are believed to be descendants of Arab traders who have been citizens of Myanmar for generations.
Genocide in 2017
In August 2017, a militia weaved from Myanmar attacked Rohingya Muslims causing the community to gather themselves and flee from a place they had called their own. They escaped in large numbers of hundreds of thousands across the border to Bangladesh.
288 Rohingya villages were incinerated during the attack, homes were annihilated leaving behind phantoms of what the community once associated with safety. This occurred in a region known as Rakhine, only Rohingya settlements were obliterated. This lasted between 25th August and 25th September. What is highly disturbing is the fact that Myanmar’s de facto leader, claimed that the attacks on Rohingya had seized as of September 5th. Maungdaw Township was the militia’s playground, a colossal of Rohingya people lost their lives there.
The death toll was stupefying. At least 6, 700 Rohingya people were brutally murdered. 730 of them were children under five, the troops actually attacked and killed defenseless toddlers. These appalling acts were fueled by local Buddhist mobs. Rohingya women and girls of all ages were raped and abused before meeting their daunting demise. The behemoths stripped the dignity of the females before stripping their lives.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
The Rohingya who managed to escape safely into Bangladesh were shocked to find a humongous amount of their people residing in Kutupalong, a refugee camp. The Rohingya refugees preceeding the ones who had managed to salvage their lives during the genocidal attack, had fled from Myanmar due to a similar ordeal. The 2017 genocide was not the first of its kind.
In March 2019, Bangladesh made an earth shattering announcement. They declared they would no longer fling their arms open to Rohingya refugees. If attacked again, the Rohingya community would have to seek refuge somewhere else.
The Rohingya have no true home till date.
Did the Rohingya return to Myanmar?
Would you return to a place where you experienced the butchering, inceneration and abuse of your people? It’s a repugnant notion isn’t it?
The Rohingya also held similar views after an agreement of the return of refugees was made in 2018 by the UN. No one returned claiming that they would only do so when they were granted actual citizenship in Myanmar. That’s right, the Rohingya are not even considered as citizens in that country.
You see Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country. This means that they hardly recognize any other religion. In fact the country went as far as excluding the Rohingya from the 2014 census. Even animals are counted during census, the Rohingya weren’t. It was no surprise when the world found out that the Rohingya were denied citizenship in Myanmar.
The Rohingya, prior the 2017 genocide, suffered immensely under the incessant abuse by the Myanmar police force.
The thing is, until date, the government of Myanmar refutes that they were behind the genocide that occurred in 2017. They claim they are still holding an investigation about the matter.
What is happening currently to the Rohingya in Myanmar?
There have been recent speculations of genocidal intents against the Rohingya community. The speculations are as a result of a warning issued by UN investigators. This is as a a result of the increasing numbers of the Rohingya residing in the Rakhine province. The number is now ranging at half a million. The investigators foresee a genocide recurrence.
Because of this, the international criminal court has issued a stringent order to Myanmar. They are to protect the Rohingya at all costs. Failure to this, the justice system promises mayhem upon the government of Myanmar.
The tragedies that have befallen the Rohingya are cringe worthy. The world does not wish to see this community suffer any more hurt/loss. We hope they finally have a home, a place they feel safe.
Here is a fun fact; did you know that Kutupalong is the world’s largest refugee camp with over 600,000 refugees?
I hope you never take your home for granted.