CM – « It’s like we’re locked up everywhere »

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« It’s like we’re locked up everywhere »

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NEW DELHI – After decades of persecution in Myanmar, culminating in the genocidal action of the military in 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims around the world have sought refuge. Many of the refugees are fighting for resettlement to their asylum countries – especially in India, where almost 17,000 Rohingyas live in refugee camps. Many say that the opportunities and health care are worse here than in other countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

Rohingya refugees in India are not only faced with miserable living conditions, but are also increasingly being confronted for the same reason persecuted as in Myanmar: their religion. Anti-Muslim sentiment in the country has risen since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 from the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state, to the passage of a controversial citizenship law against the whole India has been widely protested and that is supposed to effectively render many Muslims stateless. Rohingyas have become the target of the anti-Muslim right. Now they are worried that they will be forced to flee again.

Drooling Kyaw Min, director of the Rohingya human rights initiative and a refugee himself, can tell exactly when the hatred of Rohingyas began. « Since 2017, our community has been attacked by extremist groups in certain states of India, » he said. « Camps were set on fire, refugees were beaten, hate speech against us increased and our mediocre life was faced with many restrictions. » These restrictions include biometric verification and the placement of police personnel outside of refugee camps.

NEW DELHI – After decades of persecution in Myanmar, culminating in the military’s genocidal crackdown in 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims around the world have sought refuge . Many of the refugees are fighting for resettlement to their asylum countries – especially in India, where almost 17,000 Rohingyas live in refugee camps. Many say that the opportunities and health care are worse here than in other countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

Rohingya refugees in India are not only faced with miserable living conditions, but are also increasingly being confronted for the same reason persecuted as in Myanmar: their religion. Anti-Muslim sentiment in the country has risen since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 from the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state, to the passage of a controversial citizenship law against the whole India has been widely protested and that is supposed to effectively render many Muslims stateless. Rohingyas have become the target of the anti-Muslim right. Now they are worried that they will be forced to flee again.

Drooling Kyaw Min, director of the Rohingya human rights initiative and a refugee himself, can tell exactly when the hatred of Rohingyas began. « Since 2017, our community has been attacked by extremist groups in certain states of India, » he said. « Camps were set on fire, refugees were beaten, hate speech against us increased and our mediocre life was faced with many restrictions. » These restrictions include biometric verification and the placement of police personnel outside of refugee camps.

In 2017, India’s then Interior Minister Kiren Rijiju said, « The government has issued detailed instructions on how to deport illegal aliens, including Rohingyas. » While violating Indian and international law, it provoked unprecedented crackdown on the community. In October 2018, Modi’s government prevented refugees from obtaining the Aadhaar card, an essential biometric identification document required to access basic services – such as banking, health care, education and jobs – in India.

Since then, said Drool Kyaw Min, the pandemic has only increased survival concerns in a country that does not offer refugees legal protection. (India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention.) His community in Delhi, like the refugee communities for Afghans, Somalis and Sudanese, is always nervous for fear of imprisonment, threats of deportation and increasing police force.

Rohingya refugees im all over the country say that life was not good to them. In New Delhi, around 56 barracks were burned down on June 12 in the Madanpur Khadar refugee camp due to a short circuit – the second fire in the camp in three years. The refugees snatched all the documents they had when they saw their makeshift lives turn to ashes. « In Myanmar we fled out of fear of the military, » said one refugee on condition of anonymity. « And here we ran to save our future from collapse. »

Nearby, in Delhi’s Sharan Vihar Camp, floods claimed lives on September 1st. An 18-year-old refugee, Mohammed Jashim, died stepping into the water that touched a live wire in his tent while his parents watched helplessly. “The parents kept cursing their fate. They kept saying that the boy wanted to earn well for them, ”said Noorul Amin, a refugee from the camp.

Also Mohammed Rofiq, a 29-year-old Rohingya who lived in a camp in the city of Punhana in northern India State of Haryana lives, talked about floods. Rofiq lives under three brightly colored tarpaulins that are secured with nylon ropes and reinforced with bamboo sticks, similar to most of the other houses in the camp. Since July he has been mending the holes in his tent house almost every week because of the monsoons. « When it rains, it fills the tent and our belongings float away before our eyes, » says Rofiq.

Rain also comes with the threat of scorpions, snakes and poisonous insects. Rofiq recalled an incident on September 17th: “A snake bit a sleeping 3-year-old in our camp. The child turned blue and died instantly, ”he said. “This is the kind of place we live in; this is our life as refugees. ”

In another camp in Haryana, Hussain, a community leader who only asked for your first name to avoid police reprisals, spoke of similar problems – and financial ones. Hussain once dreamed of becoming a mathematician, but instead worked as a day laborer mixing cement on a construction site. Now he is struggling to support his family. The finances have been grim, he said, since he arrived in India 10 years ago.

Due to a lack of documents, refugees in India can only look for informal jobs as day laborers, plumbing workers, tailors, tobacco rollers or, like Hussain, in the construction industry apply. That means no fixed salary, no contract or no health insurance. As a result, many refugee families have underpaid jobs or survive on minimal financial support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The 18-year-old refugee Noor Marjan said the financial insecurity hit women in particular. For example, poverty is forcing some women to use clothing instead of feminine hygiene products like sanitary towels.

The pandemic made things worse. Nasrullah, a refugee from Madanpur Khadar camp in New Delhi, who also asked for his first name only for his personal safety, said the entire community was staying in the camp to avoid disease, minimize movement and use strips of cloth as face masks to use. He later stated, “It wasn’t COVID-19 that we feared. We feared we would have to die for treatment in hospitals because of poor finances. ”He takes care of his family’s health by making them drink a homemade blend of herbs. He knows the brew has no scientific value, but it is the only cure he can afford.

« It would have been better if the virus had killed us, » said Salma Bi, a refugee in one Next door to Nasrullah. “Life so far has been all about escape. We fled Arakan [Myanmar’s Rakhine State]. We fled Bangladesh. Well, here we have a life, but we don’t really live. It’s like we’re locked up everywhere. ”

On the run from genocide, Hussain dreamed of living a life without fear in India – studying, making money and not hiding his religion in public like in Myanmar to have to. « My mother made me flee so I could live, » said Hussain. Like many other Rohingyas, Hussain dreamed that life in India would be worth living, even if it meant starting from scratch. « We used to see the news about India, watch Indian movies, » he said. « From Myanmar, we saw India as a democratic, progressive country that valued secularism. »

Since 2014, the BJP has made its goal of marginalizing Muslims very clear. From building a Hindu temple on the ruins of the Babri Mosque to interfering with Muslim marriage law, the BJP has lived up to its electoral program. Even as the world battled COVID-19, the BJP was busy spreading lies about how Muslims tried to deliberately spread the virus. For Muslim refugees, this relentless discrimination has only exacerbated the existing difficulties of statelessness and limbo.

Anti-Muslim persecution has only worsened this year. In March, around 170 Rohingya refugees, including women and children, were transferred to the Hiranagar Sub-Prison in Kathua, India, after the government claimed they were illegal immigrants. Parents were separated from children who cried in empty tents and lived without food. The refugees are still in custody today.

News of atrocities against Muslims rolled in every week in August. In major Indian cities, from Ajmer to Kanpur, Indore to Delhi, Muslims were beaten, forced to chant Jai Shri Ram (Hindu mantras) and witnessed right-wing Hindu groups calling for their genocide.

From right-wing extremists to the Driven closely, the Rohingyas worry not only about their living conditions, but also about being driven out of India. “Don’t see us as Muslims or refugees. Think of us as people in danger, ”said Hussain. « We’re survivors of a genocide. »

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Rohingya people,Bangladesh,Refugee,Cox’s Bazar,Rohingya people, Bangladesh, Refugee, Cox’s Bazar,,

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