Rohingyas’ flight

By Haroon Habib

, by Frontline

Bangladesh is facing another influx of Rohingyas following sectarian violence in the Rakhine state in western Myanmar.

The spillover of the sectarian violence that began in early June in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, located south of Bangladesh, has once again started affecting the border regions of the neighbouring country. The state’s majority Buddhist Rakhines have been frequently clashing with the Muslim Rohingyas, who are locally called Bengalis and not considered a fellow ethnic community. Bangladesh is in a terrible predicament: should it open its border, which was closed in response to the unrest, and take in more refugees? The Bangladeshi border police have been turning back those fleeing the violence.

While the issue is a humanitarian one, it may be recalled that Dhaka has not succeeded in repatriating the thousands of Rohingyas who crossed the border in 1978 and 1991-92. Myanmar has repeatedly refused to take back the refugees, questioning their identity. Repatriation has been slow as Myanmar has been insisting on ascertaining the identity of the refugees as many of them either had not acquired a state identity or had to leave everything behind to save their lives. The ethnic Rohingya Muslims, classified under a 1982 law as stateless citizens, have been treated as illegal immigrants in Myanmar and have faced discrimination at the hands of successive military regimes.

Read more on Frontline