While Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Myanmar for his first bilateral visit on Tuesday, Rohingya Muslims gathered at Jantar Mantar to protest against the atrocities being committed on their community. Raising slogans such as “Stop the genocide” and “UNO, break your silence”, these refugees fled from their country and came to India in order to save themselves.
Twenty five-year-old Nazeer Ahmed came to India five years ago. Saying he had no other option but to flee from his country Myanmar, he accused the Burmese government of treating Rohingya Muslims worse than animals. “I have come here only to tell the rest of the world about the cruelty that is being inflicted upon us in Burma. Has humanity completely left this planet?” he questions.
“The Burmese government does not even allow us to make phone calls. If they see a phone in our hands, they call us terrorists and put us in jail. They then ask for 20 to 25 lakh as bail amount. The amount is always higher than what we can pay. If they don’t get the amount they asked for, they kill those in custody,” Nazeer told IndianExpress.com.
Nazeer is living in Delhi with his parents and two brothers. He recounted the story of the time when he was travelling to India from his country. “One day suddenly, the police fell upon us. They started picking up and killing whoever they could get their hands on. We had no money, just some gold and silver. We gave that to a man who ferried us across.”
Noor Qasim is another Rohingya Muslim who came to India in 2012. His family is still back home and were the victims of the latest violence that began on August 25 in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state. “Our slum back home was torched. My mother and sister ran away into the jungle in order to save themselves. They come out during the day and hide in jungle every night to stay alive.”
“Recently, the Burmese military force again started mass killings against our community there. More than 3,000 people have been killed, and 95 per cent of those are women and children,” Ali Johar, another Rohingya Muslim, said. “To wipe out the evidence, they are burning all the dead bodies. More than 20 villages have been burned down within this week,” he added.
Waqar Bhatti from Jammu and Kashmir was one of the people spearheading the protest on Tuesday. “Humanity is being murdered in Myanmar. Omen and small children are being thrashed and burnt alive, and the whole world is keeping mum over it. We have organised this protest as a message so that people raise their voice against the atrocities taking place on Rohingya Muslims in Burma and some action is taken,” he said.
The protesters also raised slogans against Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy of Myanmar. According to the latest data released by United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR), over 1, 23,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh in order to escape from the violence. Myanmar leader Suu Kyi’s silence over the matter is also being questioned.
On a day when PM Modi began his official visit to Myanmar, human rights organisation Amnesty International urged him to provide assistance to Rohingyas in the violence-hit Rakhine state and not to “threaten” the immigrants in India with deportation. On the same day, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “I want to tell the international organisations whether the Rohingyas are registered under the United Nations Human Rights Commission or not. They are illegal immigrants in India.” He added that the Rohingyas “stand to be deported”.
Recently, two Rohingya immigrants approached the Supreme Court of India, urging it to direct the central government to not deport them to Myanmar. The SC on Monday issued a notice to the Centre, asking what its stand on the issue. It, however, refused to put a stay on their deportation.