Rohingya: Citizens of Nowhere

Aviral Chandraa

Nationality has been a cornerstone of every major human rights treaty and statelessness has been a conundrum of it. Article 15 of the 1948 United Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to a nationality”. The Rohingya refugees have been one of the most persecuted groups in the world, and they predominantly belong to the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Myanmar considered them ‘Illegal Bengali Immigrants’ and denied them citizenship, though historical evidence clearly states that they are inhabitants of Myanmar. As per the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law, Rohingya people were excluded from the list of 135 national ethnic communities. Consequently, it effectively rendered 800,000 Rohingya stateless, denying them their rights to study, access to health services, marry, work, and practice their religion. Post-1992, the situation of Rohingya people worsened when an ‘Interagency Border Protection Force’ was formed to oppress them. After being denied citizenship and persuaded into the country, some 250,000 Rohingya left the country and fled to Cox Bazar, Bangladesh. According to World Vision, since 2017 after genocidal acts and constant brutal campaign violence against them, over 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar. Another brutal campaign, “Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation”, propelled 200,000 Rohingya to flee from Myanmar. 

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The unrelenting onslaught on the Rohingya: A COVID19 Reality

The onslaught of the COVID19 pandemic has brought upon us a troubling year. The potency of the virus has seen the health systems around the world fall under immense pressure. Additionally, the imposition of various restrictions on social and economic activities in order to contain the spread of the virus, have consequently exacerbated the misery of vulnerable groups worldwide. The bereft refugees are inherently a part of these groups and stand defenseless in what one might affirm as the greatest health emergency in over a century. The Rohingya are, as labelled by the international community, the most persecuted minority on earth and these victims of neglect stand on the crossroads of survival as the pandemic aggravates their plight. 

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