Rohingyas stand up to fight for their right to life

Protest at Jantar Mantar sees refugees and residents come together and demand action against ‘mass killings’ in Myanmar

September 06, 2017 07:37 am | Updated 07:37 am IST - New Delhi

Grim picture:  Rohingya Muslims during a protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.

Grim picture: Rohingya Muslims during a protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday.

Over a hundred Rohingya refugees who have taken shelter in the Capital came together on Tuesday at Jantar Mantar to condemn the genocide of Rohingyas in Myanmar and to request the authorities concerned to take action to prevent mass killings in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

The protest was planned following a post on social media by a Jammu resident, Waquar H. Bhatti, last Tuesday. The post, where he had shared heart-wrenching photos and videos of Rohingyas in Myanmar, was shared by many.

According to Mr. Bhatti, it was important for him organise this demonstration as “having lived in a condition which is high vulnerability to crime and violence”, he could understand the distress of the Rohingyas.

“Years later, if these children whose parents and families the government is killing pick up guns, no one will have the right to call them terrorists. This is how terrorism is born and the entire world will be responsible for it.”

Placards and slogans

The gathering at Jantar Mantar also included some Indians as well as volunteers from organisations working with the Rohingya refugees.

Holding placards which read “Allow UN investigation team into Arakan (former name of Rakhine in Myanmar)”, “Allow aid workers to work freely in Burma (old name of Myanmar)” and “Stop mass killings against innocent Rohingya” the protesters demanded international attention towards the issue.

Talking about their plight in Myanmar, 16-year-old Usman Mohd said: “Back home, our people were not allowed to go for namaz on Id-ul-Azha. Many people were dealt with harshly when they opposed it.”

‘Lucky to flee’

Mohd. Jani, a 22-year-old Rohingya, spoke in fluent English, a skill he learnt in India, about his family’s misfortune. “My family has been trying to reach to me for a long time. They say I was lucky to have run away from home. I fled to India in 2013 in hope of completing my education,” he said.

Mohd. Jani lives in a camp in Uttam Nagar and is studying at NOIS. He hasn’t been able to talk to his family for almost a month. The last time he spoke to his mother, she was crying, asking him to help her.

Anees Ahmad Ansari, a 69-year-old man who joined hands with Mr. Bhatti for organising the protest, said: “The violence that the Rohingyas are suffering is much more than meets the eye. Media is not allowed into these states, but from what we know through videos on social media, their condition is ten times worse.” The Supreme Court will hear a plea against the government’s decision to deport Rohingya immigrants on September 11.

‘India can help’

Anjum Singh, one of the protesters at Jantar Mantar, said, "I don't see it as a religious issue that only Muslims should fight for. Seeing all those videos on social media, I couldn’t stop myself from coming here and extending my support to the Rohingyas.”

On what she felt about the government's stance to deport the Rohingyas, she said, "Even Bangladesh is letting them stay in their country. And our country has always extended support to the needy, why can't they help these poor refugees?"

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