Indians Abroad for Plural India (IAPI) and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) condemn the Government of India’s endorsement of the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya minority that has been described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing” and the Hindu nationalist BJP government’s determination to expel the Rohigya refugees already in India as illegal immigrants.
Rohingyas are a historically persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, who have been denied citizenshiprecognition as an ethnic minority though they have been settled in the Arakan district for hundreds of years, with the majority of them being settled there by the British after they conquered Arakan in early nineteenth century. They have been denied even the right to call themselves “Rohingyas,” being insistently named “Bengalis” instead by the state. They have been subjected to genocidal violence since 2012, which has led to the fleeing of hundreds of thousands and the internment of thousands in camps in abysmal conditions.
In the current spate of state violence, triggered as genocide often is by the attack of a group of Rohingya resistance, the military and Buddhist extremists have unleashed a terror that has driven more than 400, 000 Rohingyas fleeing in desperation to already over-burdened Bangladesh. The attack on August 25 by Rohingya militants on a police outpost in northern Rakhine state that triggered this current violence and exodus has given both the Buddhist nationalist Myanmar and the Hindu nationalists of India the justification of framing this genocide/ethnic cleansing as a fight against Muslim terrorism. We deplore this familiar genocidal alibi that falls within the currently popular bogey of Muslim terrorism.
We deplore religious nationalism in Myanmar and India. We demand that the Modi government immediately stop its attempts to expel the Rohingya refugees. We demand that the Government of Canada take the strongest measures to stop the genocidal violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar and strip Aung San Suu Kyi of honorary citizenship in Canada. We further demand that the Government of Canada use all diplomatic means to persuade India to respect its international commitments by protecting rather than persecuting the Rohingya refugees currently resident in India.