Rohingya Refugees Relocated To Cyclone Prone Bhasan Char

Source: DD News

More than 3000 Rohingya people have been relocated to a newly emerged island (about 20 years ago) via four Bangladeshi ships from the Chattogram port for Bhasan Char island in the Bay of Bengal by the Bangladeshi government. 

They have been transferred to the Bhasan Char island in two batches of 1800 and 1600 people. The Bangladeshi government plans to decongest the Cox's Bazar refugee camp by transferring approximately 100,000 refugees to the island of Bashan Char.

This newly formed island is prone to cyclones and flooding and that’s why United Nations and rights groups have condemned the relocation of one of the most persecuted people in the World. According to rights groups, many of the persecuted refugees might have been coerced into moving to the flood and cyclone-prone island of the Bhasan Char.

Discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence have forced Rohingya people to migrate from the Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh. The spike in migration was significant during violent attacks faced by these persecuted people in 1978, 1991-1992 and in 2016.

Hundreds of thousands Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh after a deadly clampdown by Myanmar’s army in August 2017. After this clampdown, Cox's Bazar became the world's largest refugee camp inhabiting more than one million Rohingya.


Who Are The Rohingya?

Rohingya are an ethnic group comprising of Hindu and Muslim minority group who are predominately residing in the Western province of Rakhine, Myanmar, earlier known as Arakan. 

These people are considered as “stateless entity" because these people have not been granted full citizenship of Myanmar as they migrated to Myanmar during the Colonial rule. 

They have been living in South East Asian country for a very long time but were never entitled as citizens of Myanmar and never allowed to move freely within the state of Rakhine. 

Rohingya people are deprived of the legal protection from the government and face strong hostility in the country. These people often try to enter other Southeast Asian countries through illegal means and also request support from different humanitarian groups in the host countries.

Rohingya people are regarded as “the most vulnerable groups of the forcibly displaced” by the United Nations Refugee Agency.


What Happened To The Rohingya In 2012?

Until 2011, Myanmar was under the control of military junta which deported thousands of Rohingya to Bangladesh in the seventies and enacted the Citizenship law. The United Nations considered the military junta accused of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2011.

In 2012, riots between Rohingyas and Rakhine Buddhist took place when a group of Rohingya men were accused of the rape and murder of Buddhist woman which led to casualties from the sides of both parties. 

Later on, Rohingya women were raped and murdered and their homes were burnt by Buddhist nationalist in retaliation. In October, violence again flared up but this time government transferred a million of Rohingyas to refugee camps.

Thousands of Rohingyas fled their homes and took shelter in refugee camps of Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country. Others sought asylum in neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

In 2015, first general elections were held in Myanmar after the political reforms took place and Htin Kyaw became the first democratically elected president who was also not in favour to grant citizenship to Rohingyas.

This conflict between Buddhists and Rohingyas was not limited to only one province but also spread to other provinces of Myanmar and was finally ended in 2013 when the military intervened.


The 2017 Crisis

In 2017, the largest human exodus occurred in Asia when Rohingya fled from Myanmar to other Southeast Asian countries.

On 25 August 2017, Rohingya ASRA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) militants launched attacks on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine. The Army launched the counter-attacks and almost 59 of the insurgents and 12 security personnel were killed.

ARSA is active since 2016 and claims for a “democratic Muslim state for the Rohingya". Armed forces have always been their target. Due to the troubles created by ARSA in Myanmar and other neighbouring countries, a clearance operation was launched by Myanmar military to take down ARSA which affected the lives of Rohingyas more abysmal ways. 

Villages were burnt, children were killed and youths were being picked up for interrogation after the militant attack. The persecution was described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" by the United Nations.

In September 2017, the Permanent People’s Tribunal having a panel of seven members found Myanmar military and authority blameable of the offence of genocide against the Rohingya and the Kachin minority groups.

Later in November 2017, a deal was signed between governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to bring the Rohingyas to Rakhine state from the refugee camps within two months but that step received almost no attention from international onlookers.

On 23 January 2020, The International Court of Justice directed Myanmar to preserve the records of past attacks and to prevent genocidal violence against Rohingyas. 


Written by - Sanjana Yadav

Edited by - Christeena George

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