1 . SECURITY BEEFED UP TO STOP ROHINGYA ENTRY
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE– GS II . INDIA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD RELATIONS
- Security has been beefed up and patrolling by the Assam Rifles intensified along the Mizoram-Arakan (Myanmar) border in Lawngtlai district, in view of the possibility of Rohingya Muslim militants and refugees attempting to enter the State.
WHO ARE THE ROHINGYA ?
- They are an ethnic group, majority of whom are Muslim, who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar.
- Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingya who live in the Southeast Asian country.
- The Rohingya speak Rohingya or Ruaingga, a dialect that is distinct to others spoken in Rakhine State and throughout Myanmar.
- They are not considered one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups and have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, which has effectively rendered them stateless.
- Nearly all of the Rohingya in Myanmar live in the western coastal state of Rakhine and are not allowed to leave without government permission. It is one the poorest states in the country with ghetto-like camps and a lack of basic services and opportunities.
WHERE ARE THE ROHINGYA FROM ?
- Muslims have lived in the area now known as Myanmar since as early as the 12th century, according to many historians and Rohingya groups.
- The Arakan Rohingya National Organisation has said, “Rohingyas have been living in Arakan from time immemorial,” referring to the area now known as Rakhine.
- During the more than 100 years of British rule (1824-1948), there was a significant amount of migration of labourers to what is now known as Myanmar from today’s India and Bangladesh.
- Because the British administered Myanmar as a province of India, such migration was considered internal, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
- The migration of labourers was viewed negatively by the majority of the native population.
- After independence, the government viewed the migration that took place during British rule as “illegal, and it is on this basis that they refuse citizenship to the majority of Rohingya,” HRW said in a 2000 report.
- This has led many Buddhists to consider the Rohingya to be Bengali, rejecting the term Rohingya as a recent invention, created for political reasons.
HOW AND WHY ARE THEY BEING PERSECUTED ?
- Shortly after Myanmar’s independence from the British in 1948, the Union Citizenship Act was passed, defining which ethnicities could gain citizenship. According to a 2015 report by the International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, the Rohingya were not included. The act, however, did allow those whose families had lived in Myanmar for at least two generations to apply for identity cards.
- Rohingya were initially given such identification or even citizenship under the generational provision. During this time, several Rohingya also served in parliament.
- After the 1962 military coup in Myanmar, things changed dramatically for the Rohingya. All citizens were required to obtain national registration cards. The Rohingya, however, were only given foreign identity cards, which limited the jobs and educational opportunities they could pursue and obtain.
- In 1982, a new citizenship law was passed, which effectively rendered the Rohingya stateless. Under the law, Rohingya were again not recognised as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. The law established three levels of citizenship. In order to obtain the most basic level (naturalised citizenship), there must be proof that the person’s family lived in Myanmar prior to 1948, as well as fluency in one of the national languages. Many Rohingya lack such paperwork because it was either unavailable or denied to them.
- As a result of the law, their rights to study, work, travel, marry, practice their religion and access health services have been and continue to be restricted.
- The Rohingya cannot vote and even if they jump through the citizenship test hoops, they have to identify as “naturalised” as opposed to Rohingya, and limits are placed on them entering certain professions like medicine, law or running for office.
- Since the 1970s, a number of crackdowns on the Rohingya in Rakhine State have forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, as well as Malaysia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. During such crackdowns, refugees have often reported rape, torture, arson and murder by Myanmar security forces.
HOW MANY ROHINGYA HAVE FLED MYANMAR AND WHERE HAVE THEY GONE ?
- Since the late 1970s, nearly one million Rohingya have fled Myanmar due to widespread persecution.
- According to the most recently available data from the United Nations in May, more than 168,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2012.
- Following violence that broke out last year, more than 87,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh from October 2016 to July 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.
2. CHAKMAS CAN’T BE GIVEN CITIZENSHIP – GOVERNMENT
SOURCE – HINDU
RELEVANCE – GS MAINS . PAPER – II
- Days after Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said the government would honour the 2015 Supreme Court order on granting citizenship to Chakma-Hajong-Buddhists and Hindu refugees from undivided Pakistan, he made an about-turn on Tuesday saying the “apex court’s order was not implementable”. The two communities came to India in the 1960s from the Chittagong Hill area (in present day Bangladesh) fearing religious persecution.
- Mr. Rijiju said that granting Indian citizenship to the two communities would disturb the “social and demographic structure” of the tribal State and the court order was not easy to implement.
Who are Chakmas and Hajongs?
- The Chakmas and Hajongs are ethnic people who lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, most of which are located in Bangladesh.
- Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus.
- They are found in northeast India, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
If they are indigenous people, why are they called refugees?
- The Chakmas and Hajongs living in India are Indian citizens.
- Some of them, mostly from Mizoram, live in relief camps in southern Tripura due to tribal conflict with Mizos.
- These Indian Chakmas living in Tripura take part in Mizoram elections too. The Election Commission sets up polling booths in relief camps.
- The Chakmas and Hajongs living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts fled erstwhile East Pakistan in 1964-65, since they lost their land to the development of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River.
- In addition, they also faced religious persecution as they were non-Muslims and did not speak Bengali.
- They eventually sought asylum in India.
- The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after five decades.
- According to the 2011 census, 47,471 Chakmas live in Arunachal Pradesh alone.
Why does Arunachal Pradesh have a problem with Chakmas?
- In the 1960s, the Chakma refugees were accommodated in the relief camps constructed in the “vacant lands” of Tirap, Lohit and Subansiri districts of the erstwhile North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), a political division governed by the Union government.
- In 1972, NEFA was renamed Arunachal Pradesh and made a Union Territory, and subsequently, it attained statehood.
- The locals and regional political parties opposed re-settling refugees in their land fearing that it may change the demography of the State and that they may have to share the limited resources available for them.
What about Bangladesh?
- The Chakmas and Hijongs opposed their inclusion in undivided Pakistan during Partition.
- They later opposed their inclusion in Bangladesh when East Pakistan was fighting the Liberation War with West Pakistan, on grounds that they are an ethnic and religious minority group.
- A group of Chakmas resorted to armed conflict with Bangladeshi forces under the name ‘Shanti Bahini’. The conflict increased the inflow of refugees to India.
- In 1997, the Bangladeshi government headed by Sheik Hasina signed a peace accord with the Shanti Bahini, which resulted in the end of the insurgency.
- According to the accord, the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Murang and Tanchangya were acknowledged as tribes of Bangladesh entitled for benefits and a Regional Council was set up to govern the Hill Tracts.
- The agreement also laid out plans for the return of land to displaced natives and an elaborate land survey to be held in the Hill Tracts.
- Bangladesh was willing to take back a section of Chakma refugees living in India, but most of them were unwilling, fearing the return of religious persecution.
Why grant citizenship now?
- In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajongs who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69.
- The order was passed while hearing a plea by the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas.
- Following this, the Centre introduced amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Bill is yet to be passed, as the opposition says the Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion, which is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
- The Union government is keen in implementing the Supreme Court directive now since the BJP is the ruling party in both the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh.