The Myanmar & Assam case: Bangladesh faces undue allegations
By Nizam Ahmed
Bangladesh encountered several allegations over violation of human rights and instigation of violence when communal riots raged in neighbouring Assam state of northeast India last month and in Rakhine state in northwest Myanmar in June. The allegations based on unsubstantiated grounds were mooted as Bangladesh is contiguous with the troubled states of the two neighbouring countries.
Also as most members of a beleaguered community in both the scenes of riots are Muslims and speak either Bengali or any Bangladeshi dialect, Bangladesh has been tipped as a prodder for deadly violence in both the countries. A section of politicians and media in India, pundits in Myanmar and ‘rights gurus’ in the western world while analysing the incidents and aftermaths have either promptly found Bangladesh as violator of human rights or instigator of communal riots especially in Assam, ahead of launching formal investigation to probe both the mayhem.
Before going to the roots of the communal unrest inAssam and Rakhine they have tried to link Bangladeshand its Muslim people with the violence that raged in the parts of their respective countries. Moreover the pundits and the gurus lately backed by the United States Department of State blamed Bangladeshfor not opening up its borders for Rohingyas fleeing riot in Rakhine state.
The statement issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the US State Department blaming Bangladesh even did not mentioned that the impoverished county had been hosting more hundreds and thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees of Myanmar for years. It means either the US and the HRW did not know aboutBangladesh hosting the Rohingyas for decades or they intentionally ignored that the poor Bangladesh had been hosting some 400,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees in addition to some 30,000 registered Rohingyas for years and decades.
The registered Rohingyas are the remnants of some 250,000 Rohingyas who crossed into Bangladesh in late 1991 alleging persecution by the then military junta in Rakhine formally Ararak until 1989. However the central government in New Delhi denied last week that Bangladesh had any role in the Assamriot. India’s Home Secretary RK Singh ruled out alleged involvement of anyone from Bangladesh saying “the international border is sealed. It is simply impossible for any organised group crossing over to India from across the border to carry out the attacks.
Stressing the need to address the “root cause” behind the recent round of communal violence in Assam, senior BJP leader LK Advani demanded that the government act against illegal migration from Bangladesh. However authorities in Bangladesh denied repeatedly about any migration of Bangladeshi people to India over the past decades. They said the 10 million Bangladeshi people who took shelter in India in 1971, were repatriated completely and none settled in India.
Advani during a day-long visit to Assam on July 31, said the state as well as the central government has committed criminal delay in dealing with the situation. Advani pointed out that illegal migration from Bangladesh was the root cause behind the ethnic violence in Assam as indigenous people of the state are being “squeezed out” of the own land. “Due to the collusion between Government of India and the state government on illegal migration three problems have arisen.
“First, the indigenous people of Assam are feeling alienated as they are losing control of their own land, while illegal Bangladeshi’s have embarked in land grab. “Second is the ethnic problem as people fear that they will be marginalised in their own areas. “The third reason is the demographic change taking place in entire Assam,” Indian newspapers quoted Advani as saying.
On Tuesday (July 31), Tarun Gogoi, Assam’s chief minister, responded that the opposition party did not act to stop the illegal immigration when it was in power and that illegal immigrants were not responsible for the riots. The latest riot erupted between Bengali Muslims and indigenous Bodo tribe in several districts of Assam after a mosque was burned down allegedly by latter in Kokrajhar. The mayhem erupted in Tungup between Muslims and Buddhists when a Buddhist woman was allegedly raped and killed by a gang and subsequently killing of 10 Muslims in reprisal attack on passenger bus. At least 55 people were killed and many maimed in week-long clashes since July 19 in the Muslim-majority districts of Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Chirang, where houses of minorities were burned turning thousands homeless.
In Rakhine state some 80 people were killed and scores wounded in sporadic clashes in June when some 90,000 people were take refuge in government sponsored shelters. However local administration quelled the violence in respective areas by enforcing sate of emergency including clamping periodic curfew at the volatile areas. In Rakine state it has been alleged by the United Nations agencies that government forces aided by local Buddhists continued persecution of Rohingyas.
As the riot intensified between indigenous Bodo and Bengali Muslim, many vested groups started blamingBangladesh as most of the Muslims of Assam were said to be migrated from Bangladesh over the past decades. As the riot in Myanmar subsided and official persecution of Rohingyas has mounted in the past week, riots between Bodo tribes and Muslims erupted in Assam.
August 8, 2012