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Rohingya- an overview of the crisis

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 27, Oct 2021
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The Karnataka Government has objected to a petition in the Supreme Court to “identify, detain and deport" Rohingya within a year, stating that there is no reason to take coercive action against or immediately deport them.

What’s the issue?

A petition has been in the High Court against the presence of illegal immigrants and infiltrators, including Rohingya, in the country.

  • The petitioner recommended that “infiltration” should be made a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence.

Who are the Rohingya?

Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”, the Rohingya are one

of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities.

They numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017.

  • They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.


The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people.

  • It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

When did the latest crisis happen?

In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

  • They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
  • But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.

What has been the international response?

  1. Amnesty International says the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.
  2. A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”.
  3. The ICJ case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim countries, called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched.

Where are they now?

About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

  • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.