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Rohingya protest at Bhashan Char


Several thousand Rohingya staged protests against living conditions on a cyclone-prone island off Bangladesh where they were moved from vast camps on the mainland.


GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are the Rohingya?
  2. About Bhasan Char
  3. Concern regarding the Bhashan Char island relocation

Who are the Rohingya?

  • The Rohingya people are stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar, and the Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar.
  • They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
  • They are described by the United Nations (UN) as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
  • But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognize them as a people. It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • Although Rohingya history in the region can be traced back to the 8th century, Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight national indigenous races.
  • Despite mounting evidence and international pressure, Myanmar continues to deny it all. It says, it is just countering violent insurgent groups.

How does India view the Rohingya issue?

  • India maintains that Rohingyas are a threat to its national security and have links with international terror groups.
  • India has so far refused to exert any pressure on Myanmar for taking the Rohingyas back and giving them recognition as the citizens of Myanmar.

About Bhasan Char

  • Bhasan Char (Floating Island) also known as Char Piya or Thengar Char Island, is an island in Hatiya, Bangladesh. It surfaced only 20 years ago and was never inhabited.
  • It was formed with Himalayan silt from the mouth of river Meghna in 2006 spanning 40 square kilometres.
  • It is underwater from June to September because of the monsoon.
  • The island, which was once regularly submerged by monsoon rains, now has flood protection embankments, houses, hospitals and mosques built at a cost of more than 112 million dollars by the Bangladesh navy.
  • As Bhashan Char falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclones, it is not considered safe for human settlements.

Concern regarding the Bhashan Char island relocation

  • In 2015, the Bangladesh government suggested resettling Rohingya refugees on the Bhasan Char island under its Ashrayan Project, and now it has starting acting upon the idea and begun relocation of Rohingyas to the Bhashan Char island.
  • Since the end of 2020, Bangladesh has shifted 18,000 out of a planned 1,00,000 refugees to the low-lying silt island of Bhashan Char from the Cox’s Bazar region, where around 8,50,000 people live in squalid and cramped conditions.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024