Violence is sweeping Myanmar and in a short span of two weeks lakhs of ethnic Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh and thousands have lost their lives. Satellite data shows, large parts of the Rakhine state, home to most of the Burmese Rohingya population have been set on fire, and murders, rape, arson, loot and forced displacement of the Rohingya population is taking place on a scale, that should be alarming for all humanity. Even the UN secretary general has called out to Mayanmar to end violence against the Rohingya and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has urged Mayanmar state Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against the persecution of the Rohingya. The tragedy facing the Rohingya is of an unprecedented scale and needs to be addressed with a sense of utmost urgency.
As Indian citizens, we need to break the silence on ethnic violence against the Rohingya and the unconstitutional proposed deportation of a wide and long-residing Rohingya community from India, to certain death that awaits them in Myanmar. The Rohingyas have been living as a peaceful refugee community in various parts of India since the 1970s, with no criminal records or history of crime. Let us not be a part of this genocide. Let us stand up for justice and humanity, and raise our voice against the killings, displacement and deportation of the Rohingya!
We also wish to state that those who have petitioned for deportation of the Rohingya from India are doing it for the sake of communal polarization, and false concerns of ‘national security’ and ‘integrity’ are being raked up rhetorically, as part of a false propaganda. We believe this discriminatory victimization of the Rohingya Muslims is part of the larger right-wing campaign against Muslims, and against the secular social fabric of the country.
We believe, the recent murder of independent journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was a long-standing voice of rationality and a vocal critic of this campaign of hatred by the fascist right wing, is also part of the same ‘politics-of-hate’ and the murders of Gauri Lankesh, Kalburgi, Dabholkar as well as the mob lynchings of Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Junaid and countless others are all part of the same narrative of hate and demonization and a culture of silencing dissent by use of force and intimidation. We believe, the false propaganda of security-threat from the Rohingya is a part of the same exercise of hate and demonization and needs to be condemned and resisted by all secular, progressive and rational people.
Discriminatory identification and victimization of the Rohingya is being practiced in the case, contrary to the international understanding about right to life of anybody in refuge, and in violation of the principle of non-return (under article 21 of the Indian Constitution) and contrary to existing legal precedence. If we are silent, we are silently endorsing and condoning the illegal and unconstitutional deportation of people back to where certain death and savagery awaits them. As Indian citizens we wish to state in unambiguous terms that this cannot and should not be done in our name.
As citizens of a free and democratic India, we condemn the unconstitutional and unsympathetic treatment being meted out to the Rohingya community and wish to challenge the mainstream media’s silence on the issue, by speaking out. We also urge and appeal to progressive voices among all sections of the society including progressive voices within the media to take the issue up, before the matter is heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow and tell the government that the citizens of India do not want the Rohingya to be deported back.
Pappu Ram Meena
M U Frooque
Sanjaya Kumar Bohidar
Admiral L. Ramdas
Syed Mohsin Waheed
Abha Dev Habib
P. K. Vijayan
Samita A. Chattopadhyay
Sandhya D Nambiar
Shamim Uddin Ansari