Posted in Rohingya

Rohingya coming here are ‘economic migrants’, not refugees (UPDATED w Part 2)

Continuing Part Two, uploaded on Oct 23 

Has the passage of time cleared up confusion in the United Nations as to whether the world body supports or still objects to repatriating the Rohingya?

ON THE ONE HAND — Bangladesh is thrilled to hear fresh assurances from Myanmar that the latter country is prepared to take back the Rohingya refugees. This is the latest news reported today (see below) on the sidelines of an international donation campaign that raised US$600 million to help the Rohingya in the Cox’s Bazar camps.

BELOW: Beijing is the facilitator of a trilateral initiative involving China, Bangladesh and Myanmar to be commenced after Myanmar concludes its general election on Nov 8

ON THE OTHER HAND — the UN was previously pissed at India for deporting seven illegal Rohingya back to Myanmar.

New Delhi had been accused by the UN special rapporteur on racism of “breaching its international legal obligations by returning the men to possible harm”. This news item was reported by the BBC (see below) and other western media two years ago on 4 Oct 2018.

So, does the UN now consider it safe for the Rohingya to return to Rakhine state in Myanmar amidst the pandemic?

Latest data from the UNHCR

An estimated 76,000 Rohingya children under three years old have been born in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, Turkish media Anadolu Agency reported in late August quoting an analysis by Save the Children NGO.

There are a total of 862,000 (figure rounded up) Rohingya living as refugees in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Of this number, some 17,000 are babies under the age of one. All of them were born after the mothers fled Myanmar in 2016-17.

Of the Rohingya living in the camps, 37 percent are children under the age of twelve, according to a factsheet recently released up the government of Bangladesh and the the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees — see graphics below.

The huge population of Rohingya in Chittagong is causing social unrest among their Bengali host community. Although the UNHCR headcount pegs the Cox’s Bazar camp dwellers officially at 860,000 persons, other estimates by Rohingya activist organizations place the figure nearer 1.1 million in Chittagong and 1.6 million overall in Bangladesh.

Native Bengali are becoming increasingly angry and suspicious that the Rohingya swamping their districts have shown no signs of wanting to return to Myanmar. The Rohingya are resisting repatriation, claiming it remains unsafe for them to go back. Many of them, as we’re aware, prefer to sail to Malaysia and Indonesia in their people-smuggling boats.

At the same time however, the Rohingya have outstayed their welcome in Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh newspaper Dhaka Tribune this year (Apr 25) reported “the locals knew not what troubles awaited them” from the Rohingya.

Local Bengali are now regretting their earlier generous hospitality as the Rohingya have “become a burden” and are causing instability — see linked article.

The UNHCR population statistics – last updated 30 Sept 2020 as cited above – bear out the longstanding complaint by locals in Cox’s Bazar that the Rohingya are “born into camps, grow up in camps and become adults in camps”.

These Rohingya teenagers, who make up a significant strata of displaces persons, are a problem as they will not be able to fit into Burmese society even should they eventually return to Myanmar.

https://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/Rakhine_Commission_Report-en-red.pdf

According to the UNHCR data, 66 percent of the Rohingya refugees originate from the Rakhine township of Maungdaw and 24 percent of them hail from Buthidaung.

The Rohingya of Maungdaw and Buthidaung speak a form of Bengali but are unable to speak Burmese competently. In a Rakhine Inquiry Commission report (see extract above) published by the government in July 2013, it was stated that “they could not write or read the official Bamar language used in communications”.

If the adult Rohingya who had lived generations in Maungdaw and Buthidaung still could not speak Burmese, what more their grandchildren who are born and brought up in Bangladesh refugee camps.

Malaysia with our own 200,000 Rohingya will soon be confronting the same problem of Rohingya children growing up in limbo here.

Click to enlarge


ORIGINAL POST UPLOADED ON OCT 21 

Our government is winding up its field hospital for the Rohingya in Bangladesh, the media reported today. The Defence Ministry decision to bring home Malaysian doctors and nurses working in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp is welcome.

Mindef had committed 56 medical personnel to the Cox’s Bazar hospital operations. However, due to fear and stigma of Covid, the Rohingya have been afraid of seeking treatment at such humanitarian aid clinics.

Rohingya have overwhelmed Chittagong 

The Bangladesh government is moving some 100,000 Rohingya refugees out of their overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, Indian broadcaster WION said in its exclusive report today from the ground — see video below.

Although meeting stiff resistance from the Rohingya, Bangladesh is nonetheless proceeding with its plan to relocate a segment of the refugees to the Bhashan Char Island where new housing facilities have been completed. Both Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char are located in the Chittagong division.

It is important to note that while the Rohingya have refugee status in Bangladesh, those coming to Malaysia illegally are actually economic migrants.

The Rohingya fled Myanmar because of persecution by the Burmese army. But they can’t claim they’re escaping from Chittagong because of ethnic cleansing. The excuse given for their exodus from Myanmar’s Rakhine state is not applicable for Rohingya leaving Cox’s Bazar to sneak into Malaysia.

It’s not as if there are any Bangladeshis killing, torturing or raping the Rohingya in Chittagong. On the contrary, the Bengali people have been very generous to their Rohingya kinsmen by providing emergency shelter.


“We do not know how many Rohingya were forced out of Rakhine State, how many simply fled due to mass hysteria and how many were incited to flee. Undoubtedly some Rohingya were expelled from their villages by armed force, but most I suspect fled in panic. Hardly ‘deportation’ “— Derek Tonkin, former British ambassador to Indochina


And how do Rohingya repay Bangladeshis?

By throwing a temper tantrum, complaining that the Burmese government has designated their ethnicity as Bengali, and that ‘Bengali’ is a pejorative word (racial slur) as well as derogatory label. Therefore calling any Rohingya individual a ‘Bengali’ now amounts to “hate speech”.

It’s like if we were no longer allowed to call Lim Guan Eng ‘Cina’ because he insists his race is Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

BELOW: Burmese electon officials condemned for calling Rohingya ‘Bengali’ 

What an insult to the many, many Bengali of Bengal (refugee host community) to be told that their ethnicity is a dirty word all because the Rohingya are trying to rewrite history for political advantage.

Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is the place where the fleeing Rohingya have already found ‘refuge’. Yet the Rohingya coming illegally to Malaysia want to pretend that they deserve to be recognized as refugees when what they’ve done is pay good money to be smuggled here by human traffickers.

Why do some Malaysians want to tegakkan benang basah that the troublesome boat people are indeed ‘refugees’ and not merely economic migrants? Because the industries, SMEs and retailers want cheap undocumented labour, that’s why!


To be continued in Part 2

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