The Rohingya People And Their Struggle For Equal Rights


The term ‘refugees’ is spoken, heard and seen almost every other day. From Syrian refugees to Rohingya refugees, news about these individuals never seem to cease. We live in the 21st century where the internet enables us to reach out and hear the refugees stories. However the saddest part of it all is, despite all of that; the circumstances of the refugees is barely getting any better.

It would not be a surprise if many have heard and seen news of the Rohingya crisis. But the questions is, why are they speaking out and wanting to escape from Myanmar? The Rohingya people were called the ‘boat people’ by the international media when they were spotted waiting on board fishing boats off the coast of Indonesia, seeking asylum. As time passed, they were known as the ‘stateless people’.

And why is that so? Simply because Myanmar claimed them to be illegal immigrants, whereas “the Rohingya people say they have lived in the western state of Rakhine for generations“. Moreover, Bangladesh has repeatedly refused to allow the Rohingya people in their state and according to Amnesty International, “Bangladesh detained and forcibly returned hundreds” of Rohingyas.

The Rohingya crisis has been present since the 90’s and Amnesty International further revealed that “the Bangladesh government has since 1992 refused to grant refugee status to Rohingya arriving from Myanmar”. Thus, the Rohingya are more than often pushed back to Myanmar to a collective punishment.

Image Credit: Indian Defence Analysis
Image Credit: Indian Defence Analysis

The Indian Express mentioned “the fears of a fresh influx of Rohingya have compelled the Bangladesh government to refuse entry to those who have once again been exposed to the brutality of the Myanmar army”. Why are the Rohingya people so adamant to leave Myanmar? That is because they have been treated unjustly by the government and the military forces.

As told by many people from the Rohingya community, there have been many indiscriminate reprisal attacks on their people by the Myanmar security forces. International media outlets have mentioned attacks such as firing at Rohingya villages from helicopter gunships, torching hundred of homes, conducted arbitrary arrests and raping of women and girls.

Moreover, the Myanmar government has denied all the allegations against them and said there is no violation of human rights against the Rohingya. United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee mentioned in a news conference on 20 January 2017 how the Myanmar government’s refusal to address the allegations have lessened its reliability.

“The government’s response to all of these problems seem to currently be to defend, dismiss and deny,” Lee said.

” For the government to continue being defensive when allegations of serious human rights violations have persistently been reported, that is when the government appears less and less credible.”

Sure, the Rohingyas have faced atrocities and resentment in Myanmar but it’s not the only country who has been unfair to them. Bangladeshi authorities have repeatedly pushed the Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar which forced these asylum-seekers into hiding. The fact that Bangladesh detained and forced hundreds of refugees to return to Myanmar, the act itself was a violation of International Law.

Image Credit: Bangladesh Authorities - Southeast Asia Globe
Bangladesh Authorities – Southeast Asia Globe

As cited by Amnesty International, “the move is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement – an absolute prohibition under international law on forcibly returning people to a country or place where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations”.

Many out there often blame Myanmar for being the sole reason to the circumstances the Rohingya people are in, whereas Bangladesh has an equal or a greater part to play in their lives. The Bangladesh government has a policy from back in 1992 of refusing and returning Rohingya refugees back. This led to the Rohingya having to pay smugglers in order to take them across.

Furthermore, the Rohingya vulnerability made them a target for local thieves. Refugees tend to run from their homes without even the basic necessities and it’s not only upsetting but disappointing to see how two big nations have caused the Rohingya people to plead for help from the international media. Is this what democracy is like?

There is a clear violation of human rights against the Rohingya but apart from Myanmar declining these claims, they have further “blocked access to humanitarian aid and effectively barred independent journalists and human rights monitors from entering the area“. The question is if the Myanmar government has got absolutely nothing to hide, why are they not allowing access to “independent observers, including human rights monitors, aid workers and journalists“? Something to wonder, yes?

Aung San Suu Kyi, the ever famous Burmese politician and the prominent leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has the primary responsibility to lead the concern and conflict over the Rohingya people. However, she has failed to end or even address the Rohingya migrant crisis. Moreover NLD has refused to comment on the issue, which has turned into a concern for the international media.

Image Credit: BBC
Image Credit: BBC

Researchers in the West concluded that “despite the fact that this is the most significant test of Suu Kyi’s leadership, she has remained remarkably indifferent”. This crisis has also placed NLD and Suu Kyi’s image on the line as there are many doubts surrounding them.

Also, 28 global leaders have warned Suu Kyi of the consequences of not involving herself in the Rohingya crisis. As mentioned by Al Jazeera, “more than a dozen Nobel laureates have criticised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to uphold the human rights of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state, urging for immediate action to avoid ‘ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’ “.

However, despite numerous appeals; Suu Kyi has yet to taken any action to make sure the Rohingya people receive their deserved citizenship rights. BBC reporter Mishal Husain had interviewed Suu Kyi earlier last year and the Rohingya crisis was brought up. it was disappointing to see how Suu Kyi was more concerned about the cultural and religious differences between the Buddhist majority and the R0hingya people rather than what can be done to solve the crisis itself.

“I would like to make the point that there are many moderate Muslims in Burma who have been well integrated into our society, but these problems arose last year and I think this is due to fear on both sides,” Suu Kyi said.

“This is what the world needs to understand; that the fear is not just to the side of the Muslims but on the side of the Buddhists as well.”

Image Credit: Al Jazeera
Image Credit: Al Jazeera

The Rohingya crisis has been existent for decades, but the recent refugee crisis in Europe indefinitely overshadowed the Rohingya plight. It is still very much present and only seems to be worsening. The international media has no doubt voiced their circumstances and what atrocities they have gone through and are still going through.

Then why is there little done for them? Bangladesh and Myanmar both have contributed equally in worsening the Rohingyas situation and it is our duty as ethical individuals to speak up and be their voices, until the day it starts getting better.

Day in and day out, we hear refugee crisis going from bad to worse. Therefore, lets use our voices to speak out for these voiceless individuals as a larger force with a stronger voice might perhaps be their solace.

Mari Khan Safi 

Kashmir, The Buried Conflict

Technology should have been able to prevent wars in today’s era. However, history has proven time and again that humans misuse technology when it comes to territorial conflicts.

Kashmir is a never ending debate between India and Pakistan since 1947. One third of Kashmir falls under Pakistan while the other two third is controlled by India. The Kashmiri people have been fighting for independence since the British colonial rule.[1]

In the recent past few months, the Kashmir conflict has taken a worse and unfortunate turn. On the evening of July 8, 2016 the commander of the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen, Burhan Muzaffar Wani was killed alongside two of his followers during an encounter in the Anantnag district by the Indian Security Forces.[2] This resulted in an outpour of anger and sorrow in Kashmir as Burhan Wani was considered a martyr and hero in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

In the last few decades, there has been an astonishing amount of increase in militancy in Kashmir; many of those who are highly educated.[3] Education provides one with not only academic knowledge but a sophisticated way of thinking; or lifestyle. So what prompts the Kashmiri youth to become militants? It would be the loss of hope that the government would ever listen to their concerns.

On the morning of September 18, 2016 the Indian Army Base in Uri was brutally attacked. The attack left 18 soldiers dead and a sense of mourning took over India. India blamed the Pakistani Army for the Uri attack. The Director-General of Military Operations spoke to Pakistan counterparts claiming that some of the militants had objects with Pakistani labelled markings on them.[4] However, the Pakistan High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit said there is absolutely no chance for a conflict among two nuclear powered countries.

Moving on, India claimed to have carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan in response to the Uri Attacks against the terrorist units residing near the Line of Control. In contrast to what India said, Pakistan army rejected all claims made by the Indian military on conducting surgical strikes.[5] Pakistan did however admit to the loss of two of its soldiers during an exchange of fire which also caused the injury of nine others.[6] 

Kashmir has always been a controversial and sensitive topic between India and Pakistan. Any form of attack on either army bases could result in a possible war among the two countries. The question is would Pakistan risk their state’s security by attacking the Uri base?

Pakistan rejected claims made by India on attacking or being involved in the Uri attack. The Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi spoke about the Uri attack in her speech. She mentioned the timing of the attack on the Indian Army Base in Uri, seemed to have been a specifically designed operation to avert focus from India’s atrocities in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In response, the Indian envoy to the United Nations Eenam Gambhir, counterattacked Maleeha Lodhi by saying she made a false statement and gave misleading information of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.[7]

Furthermore, she questioned Pakistan’s home grown terrorist organisations. She ended her speech by repeating what India’s Minister of External Affairs stated in her address earlier on, saying the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always continue to be so.[8] However, Eenam Gambhir barely touched on the Kashmir dispute and the atrocities faced by the Kashmiri people in Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian forces.

“My country has been the principal victim of terrorism including that supported, sponsored and financed from abroad,” Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif said during the General Assembly at the United Nations.

“Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azab Operation is the largest, most robust and most successful anti-terrorism campaign anywhere in the world, deploying 200,000 of our security forces.

“Over a hundred Kashmiris have been killed, hundreds, including children and infants, blinded by shotgun pellets and over six thousand unarmed civilians injured over the past two months.”[9]

However, Eenam Gambhir was not impressed with his speech and claimed Pakistan to be a terrorist state. She further emphasised on that fact that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke of his support for a self acknowledged commander of a known terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen.[10] This brings us back to the question, why do young and educated youths join such organisations?


The Indian Express recently revealed 35-year-old Mohammed Ehsan became the 1,000th person to suffer pellet injuries to the eye by the Indian forces in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.[11] However, the Jammu Kashmir’s high court has refused to ban the use of pellet guns. The brutal treatment of the Indian forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been acknowledged worldwide, yet little has been done.


Moreover, for the very first time in 26 years, a curfew was set in motion during this year’s Eid-ul-Adha celebrations.[12] The curfew “culture” has been in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir since the start of the conflict. It restricts the Kashmiri people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir to carry on with their daily lives. It has also lead to the lack of food and medicines.[13] The curfew further causes the shut down of banks and ATMs.[14] Many are not able to purchase basic necessities due to no cash in hand.[15] This brings about a sense of retaliation and aggression in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Mirza Waheed a Kashmiri novelist and author of ‘The Book of Gold Leaves’ appeared in Al Jazeera’s segment, Inside Story earlier on in July. He repeatedly emphasised the need for both India and Pakistan to stop treating Kashmir as a territorial property, because it simply is not one.

“The primary dispute is to do with the aspirations of Kashmiri people,” Mirza Waheed said.

“They see their home as a colonised space and decide to resist.

“Pushing a new generation of Kashmir’s towards militancy.”[16]

The focus should not be on India and Pakistan’s political or economical ties as Kashmiri people are the ones suffering between the conflicts of these two states. The Kashmiri people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir ought to be given equal rights to voice their concerns to the Indian government so they do not have to seek external help.

The world needs to know the sufferings of the Kashmiri people in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. This is one of the extreme cases of Human Rights violation and it is time to voice these voiceless people.

Maria Khan Safi


“A Brief History Of The Kashmir Conflict”. 2001. Telegraph.Co.Uk.

“Abdul Basit Interview Excerpts: War Is Not Really A Solution To Our Problems”. 2016.Vidshare.Indianexpress.Com.

Ahsan, Sofi. 2016. “Jammu & Kashmir: Three Months, 1,000 Eye Injuries By Pellets”. The Indian Express.

Akmali, Mukeet. 2016. “As Restrictions, Curfew Continue, People Facing Difficulties In Finding Essentials”. M.Greaterkashmir.Com.

Baweja, Harinder. 2016. “Kashmir’s Disturbing New Reality | The Young Militants Of Kashmir”.Hindustantimes.Com.

“Full Text Of India’s Response To Pakistan At The UN General Assembly”. 2016. Huffington Post India.

“Full Text Of Nawaz Sharif’S Speech At UN General Assembly”. 2016.Http://Www.Hindustantimes.Com/.

“Kashmir Violence: Security Or Political Problem?”. 2016. Aljazeera.Com.

“Kashmir: Curfew In Entire Valley On Eid, Choppers And Drones To Keep Vigil”. 2016. The Indian Express.

Peerzada, Ashiq. 2016. “18 Soldiers Killed In Militant Attack In Uri”. The Hindu.

Peerzada, Ashiq. 2016. “‘Burhan Wani, Kashmir Valley’S Most Wanted Militant Commander, Killed’”.The Hindu.

“Surgical Strikes: Pakistan Rejects India’s Claims”. 2016. Aljazeera.Com.