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The Rohingya Survey 2017

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During September-October 2017 we have collected 1,360 testimonies from Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar ( Bangladesh ) - This is what we found.

Context

❝The Rohingya are often referred to as ‘one of the world’s most persecuted minorities’ by activists and the press.❞

Rohingya Muslims are the largest Muslim community in Myanmar. They form a distinct ethnic group, with their own language and culture. However, the Rohingya are subject to severe discrimination from the Myanmar government, compounded by marginalization from the general population. The Rohingya are considered “illegal immigrants” from neighbouring Bangladesh despite being able to trace their roots back for centuries in the territory which now forms the State of Myanmar. As a result, the Rohingya have faced protracted displacement, discrimination, lack of access to education, and restrictions on freedom of movement.

Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law establishes three tiers of citizenship, the highest order of which is only attainable to members of 135 “national races” that are deemed “indigenous” under the law. Rohingyas do not appear on this list. In order for Rohingyas to be eligible for the basic level of citizenship (naturalised), they are required to provide evidence of their ancestry in Rakhine State prior to 1948, as well as uency in one of the national languages. The former, in particular, is an unattainable burden of proof for most. As such, the vast majority are effectively stateless, yet citizenship has de facto little impact on rights or ability to access services. Rohingyas and Muslims of other ethnicities that have citizenship documents face many of the same restrictions, despite the fact that their rights are technically enshrined in law.

This most recent ‘erasure’ of the Rohingya compounds existing restrictions that have left most unable to access their rights to work, study, travel, marry, register births, and health services, a process that accelerated following 2012 communal violence in Rakhine State. In northern Rakhine State (northern Rakhine), Rohingya face being deleted from government ‘residency list’ if they are not present during annual “household inspections”. The implications of this are that without proof of residence, Rohingya may not be able to acquire citizenship in the future; for those who ed Myanmar, complying with this regulation may prove insurmountably - and intentionally - diffcult.

The majority of Rohingya Muslims live in the northern areas of Rakhine State in northwestern Myanmar, with populations particularly concentrated in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships. Rakhine State is one of the most deprived states in Myanmar, with chronic poverty, poor infrastructure, limited access to basic services, few livelihood opportunities, as well as human security and human rights challenges. The Rohingya and other Muslim populations in Rakhine State face ocial restrictions on movement and segregation from other communities. Rohingyas in Rakhine State must obtain social permission in order to travel between townships or outside of the state, a process which is notoriously bureaucratic. Across northern Rakhine, travel between villages requires passing through checkpoints, making the Rohingya vulnerable to threats, extortion and physical violence. In these areas of the state, curfews are also often in place, prohibiting people from leaving their homes or travelling at night. Since the 1970s, a number of ‘crackdowns’ on the Rohingya have resulted in mass expulsions – most notably in 1978 and 1991-1992 – which sent hundreds of thousands over the border to Bangladesh, where they have remained.

Read the Full Survey Here