World View: Burma’s Rohingya Crisis Merges with the Kashmir Crisis, Inflaming the Entire Region

Rohingya have been leaving mainly Buddhist Myanmar in steady numbers for years before the military crackdown last month that opened the floodgates, with thousands ending up in India
Sajjad Hussain/AFP

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Bangladesh builds huge refugee camp for 800,000 displaced Rohingyas from Burma (Myanmar)
  • Rohingya crisis expands into Kashmir, creating a mega-crisis

Bangladesh builds huge refugee camp for 800,000 displaced Rohingyas from Burma (Myanmar)

Hindu nationalist National Panthers Party billboard demands that Rohingyas 'Quite Jammu', or else be deported. (Hindustan Times)
Hindu nationalist National Panthers Party billboard demands that Rohingyas ‘Quit Jammu’, or else be deported. (Hindustan Times)

Some 500,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have crossed the border from Burma (Myanmar) into Bangladesh since August 25, when Burma’s army launched a full-scale scorched earth ethnic extermination campaign on the Rohingyas in Burma’s Rakhine state. According to Bangladesh authorities, some 4,000-5,000 additional Rohingyas were crossing the border each day, with 10,000 more waiting at the frontier.

Bangladesh had originally allocated 2,000 acres of land to set up a refugee camp to accommodate 500,000 refugees, but with the flood of refugees continuing, officials have set aside another 1,000 acres for the new camp, to expand the camp to house 800,000. Rohingyas have already set up 23 makeshift camps along the border, and Bangladesh will move them all into the new camp.

This is an extremely serious situation, as it has been “the largest mass refugee movement in the region in decades,” according to the United Nations.

After several years of these atrocities by Burma’s army, Rohingya activists have formed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which conducted terrorist attacks on August 25 and triggered the current round of “clearance operations” by Burma’s army. Burma’s ethnic cleansing is radicalizing many young men in the Rohingya population, with plans growing for retaliatory attacks on the Burmese population and army.

Regular readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war, pitting the US, India, Russia, Iran and the West against China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim nations. It is impossible to predict the exact scenario that will lead to that war, but today there are two clear crises that could escalate into world war: The North Korea nuclear missile crisis, and the enormous Rohingya Sunni Muslim refugee crisis. Guardian (London) and Reuters and NPR

Rohingya crisis expands into Kashmir, creating a mega-crisis

For years, there has been a community of several thousand Rohingya Muslims living peacefully in India-governed Jammu and Kashmir. That number has increased by over 6,000 between 2008 and 2016. J&K is thousands of miles from their original homes, but the Rohingyas have said that they were forced to be there, according to 35-year-old Mohammad Yusuf, the head of a camp for Rohingya refugees:

We are in India because of some compulsions, and not out of choice. We know this is not our land. We will leave on our own once those compulsions are addressed by the global community and we get justice.

We were boarded into a train and asked to embark at the last station when the whole train gets empty. We were not aware that it is Jammu. We came to know at the railway station that some Rohingyas were living here and met them. This is how we reached here.

The Rohingyas co-existed peacefully and even received money and supplies from other residents last year when a large fire in the refugee camp destroyed all their belongings.

But apparently, some residents harbored underground resentment of the Rohingyas, because this resentment suddenly exploded into full-scale xenophobia and hostility in April.

At that time, the Hindu nationalist Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party began putting up large billboards asking residents to “wake-up” and “save the history, culture, and identity of the Dogras.” The billboard directed Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees to “quit Jammu.”

The National Panthers reportedly threatened to launch an “identify and kill movement” unless the government deported the refugees. They also reportedly demanded that any resident renting out a room to Rohingyas should be arrested and sent to jail under a law that allows detention without trial for six months.

The Rohingyas say that they are just trying to survive with their families. “We are not involved in any criminal activity and are doing odd jobs to make our living. Most of us work as wage laborers, rag-pickers, scrap-dealers and a few are working at railway stations as sweepers.”

Indian officials say that Rohingyas in Kashmir and elsewhere in India are being radicalized by terrorist groups from Pakistan, training the Rohingyas for terror attacks in India.

Pakistan has always taken the view that it is India that is committing atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, and that the Rohingya crisis has now given India one more weapon to use against Pakistan in Kashmir.

It appears that the Rohingya crisis between Burma and Bangladesh has merged with the Kashmir crisis between India and Pakistan, resulting in a much larger crisis. As hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas are forced to leave Burma because of its ethnic cleansing program, the entire region is becoming more destabilized, with the possibility of triggering a war. Scroll (India, 8-May) and Pakistan Observer and First Post (India, 20-Aug)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burma, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rohingyas, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, ARSA, India, Jammu, Kashmir, Mohammad Yusuf, National Panthers Party, Pakistan
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