ROHINGYA:CHEATED OUT OF THEIR LAND Shah Mohammad Fahim Prologue: Shansida Begum finally has a home made of bamboo.Though it is not secure, but it's a world of comfort compared to the refugee shelter that she and her family have called home for the past 10 years.She says she barely remembers life in the country of her birth. Her family, ethnic Rohingyas, fled Rakhine state when she was 12 years old to escape persecution by the military junta, which is accused of severely restricting Muslims' rights to travel & marry and subjecting many to slave labour. Now 22, Shansida says she still considers herself Burmese, but knows that unless the political situation changes in Myanmar, her 18-month-old daughter will only see her motherland from the Bangladeshi side of the Naf river which divides the two nations. This is the tales of Shansida, one of about 12,000 Rohingya Muslims living in an unofficial camp in southern Bangladesh.Though condition of the camps where Rohingyas live are below standard, with many refugees living in overcrowded shelters in desperate need of repair, the majority of them say that they do not want to return home until there is peace and democracy in Myanmar. History of Rohingya: Rohingya refugees are a muslim ethnic minority who live in the northern state of Arakan or Rakhine State, near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. They are setteled in arakan in 7th century as Arab Muslim traders settled here. Some of the Rohingyas are descendants of Arabs, Persians and Pathans who migrated to Arakan during the Mughal Empire. Majority of Rohingya people are physically similar to South Asians, particularly Bengali people.So it is thought that most of them are the descendants of Bengali people.At present there are over three million Rohingya people, living both inside and outside Myanmar (Burma). Due to widespread persecution, prejudice and ethnic cleansing inside Myanmar, nearly a half of the population (over 1.5 million) have been compelled to live in exile, particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Malaysia, and Thailand. Rohingya in Bangladesh: In 1978, a total of 167,000 Rohingya refugees entered in Bangladesh, following the Myanmar army’s “Operation Nagamin Sit Sin Yay”(Dragon King Operation), which resulted in widespread killings,rape and destruction of mosques and further religious persecution. After international pressure, the government of Myanmar allowed most of the Rohingyas who had fled to Bangladesh to return. But again in 1991, some 250,000 refugees from Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state fled by boat and on foot to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they were sheltered in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazar district. While the majority of these refugees eventually returned home, some 20,500 people – mostly Rohingya, remain in two of the original camps and have been classified as illegal immigrants of Bangladesh. However, though most of them were later repatriated back to the nation, some are still in exile, living in Bangladesh.Their condition is also miserable as their basic rights are ignored in Bangladesh. Recently the UNHCR has expanded its routine protection monitoring in Cox's Bazar to address the problems of sexual and gender-based violence as well as trafficking of women and children. The UN refugee agency continues to work with governments, other UN agencies and non-governmental organisations to try and find a durable solution for the Rohingya refugees.But how far they will be successful that is in question because inspite of many earlier efforts by the UN, the vast majority of Rohingya refugees have remained in Bangladesh. They are unable to return home because of the regime in Burma. Human rights violations: According to Amnesty International, the Rohingya people have continued to suffer from human rights violations under the Myanmar junta since 1978.Their freedom of movement is severely restricted and the vast majority of them have effectively been denied Myanmar citizenship. They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction; house destruction and financial restrictions on marriage. Rohingyas continue to be used as forced labourers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labour in northern Rakhine State has decreased over the last decade. In 1978 many Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, following the ‘Nagamin’ (Dragon King) operation of the Myanmar army. Officially this campaign aimed at "scrutinising each individual living in the state, designating citizens and foreigners in accordance with the law and taking actions against foreigners who have filtered into the country illegally". This military campaign directly targeted Rohingyas and resulted in widespread killings, rape,torture,eviction and religious persecution. During 1991 quarter of a million Rohingyas again fled to Bangladesh due to widespread forced labour,executions, torture and rape. Rohingyas were forced to work without pay by the Myanmar army on infrastructure and economic projects, often under harsh conditions. Many other human rights violations occurred in the context of forced labour of Rohingya civilians by the security forces. We can easily guess how they are being deprived of their rights by the following comment of Dr. Habib Siddiqui who is working on Rohingyas.He says, ‘The Burmese military regime has declared the Rohingya non-nationals or non-citizens. The Burma Citizenship Law of 1982, which violates several fundamental principles of the customary international law, has reduced them to the status of stateless.’ This is ARAKAN.The motherland of Rohingya people.They are cheated out of their land where they are living for centuries after centuries.But now they are denied of their lands.Their dreams, their works and their rights, all are virtually ignored.But they should not deprived of citizenship rights in their native country.We can only hope that the wishes of Rohingya people to achieve citizenship rights will one day be fulfilled. Plights of rohingya community: ‘I want to be a Doctor,’ told by Habib, a twelve years old boy of refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. He saw the death of his sister for not getting any treatment during her last days. So he wants to be a Doctor. But reality is that, there is no certainity to get his basic rights even and his dream to become a Doctor is build a castle in the air.Thus many dreams of Rohingya people becoming pale in each moment. In the refugee camps of Bangladesh, the Rohingyas survive in inhumane conditions. 16 or more refugees live in a room that is barely more than three-squre meters. There always prevail food and medicine scarce in the camps and the children are deprived of education. Conditions in Mayanmar is more painful. Arakan is the one of the fertile regions of asia.Product produces by rohingya people serve as the major portion of the total capital investment for the economic growth and national prosperity of Mayanmar.But they lead a life in sub-human condition with half naked body,full of hunger,fear and grief. They have been economically crippled, socially degraded, politically subjugated and culturally enslaved since the military rulers took over the power in 1962.The military rulers sown the seeds of communal animosity and hatred among the two major communities of Arakan, Rohingyas and Rakhaines by their ‘Devide & Rule’ policy.As a result Myanmar turned into a secret state of terror where human rights are constantly violated.Arakan turned into a land of blood & tears.Rohingyas living both in myanmar & Bangladesh are leading the life of refugee.Their groaning do not reach to anyone. Epilogue: So we should percieve deeply that the Rohingya community is one of the most down-trodden ethnic minorities of the world. They are victim of political oppression, economic exploitation, cultural slavery and communal violence in their ancestral land Arakan. UN, Many other international organisations, Government of different countries & lots of NGOs took many initiatives for changing their fates but still the reality is very pathetic. The international community should draw their kind attention to put an end to the plights of rohingya people and we should committed ourselves so that at least we can assure them to get their basic rights. Let us work together for the peace, prosperity and communal harmony of Rohingya people in their own motherland.