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Rohingya as a people facing extinction

Published : Saturday, 15 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 585

Rohingya as a people facing extinction

Rohingya as a people facing extinction

The Rohingya people, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group from Myanmars Rakhine State, have faced decades of systemic oppression and violence. This persecution has escalated to such an extent that, within one or two generations, there is a very real possibility that the Rohingya identity could vanish from their native land entirely.

Recent waves of violence have driven the majority of the Rohingya population out of Myanmar, making them one of the most persecuted and displaced groups in the world. If the current trends continue, the Rohingya may soon become an exiled people with no physical or cultural ties to their homeland, much like the Native Americans who lost their lands and way of life.

The exodus of the Rohingya from Myanmar has reached a critical point. According to estimates, there are now more Rohingya living in refugee camps and diaspora communities than in Myanmar itself. As of 2021, more than a million Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh alone, with significant numbers also in Malaysia, India and other countries. This mass displacement not only signifies a humanitarian crisis but also threatens the very survival of the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic and cultural group.

If the Rohingya population in Myanmar falls below 5 percent of the total Rohingya population worldwide, the chances of them being able to reconstitute themselves as a viable community within the country diminish drastically. This threshold is crucial; below it, their political, social and cultural influence within their homeland would be negligible. The Myanmar governments policy of expelling the Rohingya and redistributing their lands to other ethnic groups, including Rakhine Buddhists, further complicates any potential return. The physical and demographic landscape of Rakhine State is being irreversibly altered, leaving no place for the Rohingya to return to, even if repatriation were ever to be agreed upon.

The destruction of Rohingya villages and the redistribution of their land mean that the facts on the ground are changing rapidly. With each passing day, the likelihood of the Rohingya returning to their ancestral homes decreases. The Myanmar governments actions can be seen as an attempt to erase the Rohingya presence and history from the country altogether. This form of ethnic cleansing ensures that, even if international pressure mounts for the return of the Rohingya, there will be no land for them to return to, no homes to reclaim and no community structures to rebuild.

In refugee camps, the Rohingya are struggling to maintain their cultural and social practices. The harsh conditions, lack of resources and prolonged displacement are diluting their way of life. The camps are often overcrowded, lacking in basic amenities and rife with poverty and disease. Education is limited and opportunities to practice cultural traditions are sparse. As generations grow up in these camps, far removed from their homeland, the distinct elements of Rohingya identity - language, traditions and social norms - are at risk of fading away.

The situation of the Rohingya bears a tragic resemblance to the plight of Native Americans. The Native American experience in the US involved displacement, cultural suppression and a systematic attempt to erase their identity. Today, many Native American communities continue to struggle with the long-term impacts of this historical trauma. Their languages, cultural practices and traditional knowledge have been significantly eroded. The risk facing the Rohingya is alarmingly similar. If the current trends continue, the world may witness the near-total erasure of another Indigenous people.

The international community has a moral and ethical obligation to prevent such an outcome. The plight of the Rohingya must not be ignored. Governments, international organizations and civil society - and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in particular - must work together to ensure the protection of Rohingya rights, both in Myanmar and in diaspora communities. Immediate measures should include increased humanitarian aid, protection of refugees and sustained diplomatic pressure on the Myanmar government to halt its campaign of ethnic cleansing.

In the long term, efforts must also be made to preserve and promote Rohingya culture and identity. This can be achieved through educational programs, cultural initiatives and support for community organizations that work to maintain Rohingya traditions in those nations around the globe that host sizable Rohingya populations. Providing platforms for Rohingya voices and stories can help to keep their heritage alive. Additionally, legal avenues must be explored to hold those responsible for the violence and displacement accountable, ensuring that justice is served and future atrocities are prevented.

The potential disappearance of the Rohingya from their homeland is not just a tragedy for the Rohingya people; it is a loss for humanity as a whole. Every culture, every language and every tradition enriches the global tapestry of human civilization. The world must act now to ensure that the Rohingya people do not become another footnote in the long history of ethnic cleansing and cultural erasure. Their survival as a distinct people depends on the collective will to protect and preserve their identity for future generations.

SOURCE:ARAB NEWS






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