By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor
The international community and media has identified the Rohingya as the most persecuted minority in the world. The Rohingya are a stateless minority with a long history of persecution in Myanmar, a mainly Buddhist country, and are in need of a safe place to live. They began to flee the country on August 25 after the killings of nine border police in October 2016. Myanmar troops began attempts to drive them out, such as burning their villages and attacking civilians. Currently, over 480,000 people are without homes.
The Rohingya have fled to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, one of those being India. It’s estimated that 40,000 people are taking refuge from the violence in India, and now the Indian government is calling for them to be deported.
It is wrong to try to return people to a place of abuse, especially considering that they have no where else to go. This is incredibly disappointing news to hear since Hinduism is considered a religion of peace, with an emphasis on non-violence against all creatures. If the Rohingya return to Myanmar they will be killed, and their blood will be on the hands of the Indian government.
The government is calling for the deportation of the refugees claiming that they have ties to the Islamic State and Pakistan’s Intelligence Network ISI. According to India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Rohingya are “illegal immigrants.” Some people are debating that this is unjustifiable due to the fact that India is legally bound by the UN principle of “non-refoulement”, which forbids a country to try to force asylum seekers to return to a country in which they would be in danger of life-threatening persecution.
“Any nation has a right, and indeed a responsibility, to consider security risks, but that cannot be confused as an excuse to knowingly force an entire group of people back to a place where they will face certain persecution and a high likelihood of severe human rights abuses and death,” Daniel Sullivan of Refugees International told BBC News.
Technically yes, the Rohingya are illegal migrants. But migrants are divided into two different groups: economic and refugee. Economic migrants that are simply there for job purposes may be deported, but refugees are protected under the constitution (Article 14- Right to Life, Article 21- Personal Liberty).
Many leaders have come out to express their concern for the Rohingya, except for Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor and (ironically) Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, urged her to speak out in a recent letter, ”I appeal to you and your fellow leaders to reach out to all sections of society to try to restore friendly relations throughout the population in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.”
“As a fellow Buddhist and Nobel Laureate, I am appealing to you and your colleagues once more to find a lasting and humane solution to this festering problem,” he said.
Varun Gandhi, a member of the Indian parliament, is asking the government to keep in mind “the rich Indian tradition” of helping refugees. India has taken in over 200,000 refugees, stateless people and asylum seekers, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
After living in Myanmar for generations and countlessly being denied citizenship, the Rohingya are deserving of safety and recognition. The treatment of these refugees is what the UN is calling, “textbook ethnic cleansing.” These people are deserving of a shelter, food and medical aid, and it’s against Hindu values to turn away someone in dire circumstances like these. As a Hindu myself, I’m ashamed of India’s decision to turn a blind eye to the apparent genocide against these helpless people. If India will not save them, it’s up to other countries to stop this crime against humanity and provide refuge for the Rohingya.