26 August 2020 | Salaam Foundation | Photo: Azhar Vadi
The 25 August 2020 marked the 3rd commemoration of the violent and grotesque attacks that were launched against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military, and armed Buddhist militias in 2017, bringing to the fore a genocide slowly perpetuated from as early as the 1970s.
The orgy of violence in 2017 that included, rape, mass executions and wanton killing has resulted in over 70% of the population fleeing to Bangladesh and other neighbouring states.
The days that followed August 25 of that year, will forever be an indictment on each of us and as yet another attempted erradication of a people took place on our watch. Despite all attempts by the Myanmar government to whitewash the atrocities, each year it will remain the obligation of justice seeking sectors of humanity to remind the world about this tragic crime.
Close to 1 million stateless Rohingya refugees now officially reside in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas refugee camps in Bangladesh at present.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the vast majority live in 34 extremely congested camps, including the largest single site, the Kutupalong-Balukhali Expansion Site, which is host to approximately 626,500 Rohingya.
While basic assistance for survival has managed to trickle into the camps, life for the Rohingya is far from normal. Rendered stateless and without national belonging, they exist in legal limbo and their prime objective has been to return to their ancestral lands with full rights just as other Burmese citizens.
While humanitarian aid continues from places like South Africa and other parts of the world, pressure for their return to homeland must increase on Myanmar and other global players so that a long term, sustainable and dignified solution can be found to their crisis.