Won’t go back to Myanmar: Rohingyas

Refugees in Delhi camp say they have lost faith in Aung San Suu Kyi

September 20, 2017 01:04 am | Updated 01:04 am IST - New Delhi

Future in flux:  Residents of a Rohingya refugee camp in Kalindi Kunj on Tuesday.

Future in flux: Residents of a Rohingya refugee camp in Kalindi Kunj on Tuesday.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s assurances on Tuesday that her country was ready to start the verification process to ensure repatriation of refugees who had fled the country over the past months has been received with much scepticism by the Rohingya community living in Delhi.

The Rohingyas living in a refugee colony near Kalindi Kunj said the leader in her address did not even once denounce the atrocities based on ethnicity that had been continuing for years in Rakhine State and gave no guarantee to the Rohingyas that they would be safe if they returned.

Global pressure

Mohammad Salim Ullah, who fled to Bangladesh in 2005 before coming to India in 2012, said: “Aung San Suu Kyi’s has broken her silence only under international pressure. So many people have died over the years and she has done nothing. We had a lot of faith in her earlier but she has given us no guarantee and has not done anything to give us any hope that we can return safely.”

‘Overstayed welcome’

Speaking of the threat of deportation from the Indian government, Mr. Salim Ullah said: “Any friendly person or country welcomes a guest with open arms and offers them biryani and kebabs to eat but if they overstay then the host will naturally not be that welcoming. The same is the situation in India where we were welcomed but as time has passed, the government is no longer as welcoming.” He said they would go to any country that welcomed them if deported, but they would never go back to Myanmar.

Sohail Khan, a fellow Rohingya who crossed over in 2012, said Ms. Suu Kyi has said there will first be a verification process and only then will they be given their nationality back.

“What if we go back based on the assurances given by her and then find ourselves thrown into a camp? In India, we are living as refugees but we have the freedom to work, earn a living and lead a decent life. Back home we will only fear being killed as there is no rule of law.”

The Rohingyas said that over the past month, in India, there has been a campaign to defame them by calling them terrorists and criminals.

“In our camp, all we are bothered about is going to work and earning a living for ourselves. We fear that this name-calling will affect our children who will then for the rest of their life have to keep defending this tag,” said Mr. Salim Ullah.

‘India gave us honour’

Those living in the refugee camp in Delhi said they have not faced any problems from the police or neighbours due to the allegations that they are a threat to national security.

However, in other places in India such as Hyderabad and Jammu, some members of the community have raised complaints that the attitude of the people who live in areas surrounding them have changed ever since the government changed its stance.

“India has given us honour, a country to live in and a chance to earn a living; why would we want to attack India,” asked a refugee, requesting anonymity.

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