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Myanmar Refugees, including Muslim Rohingya likely to outpace Syrian Arrivals in US

State Department figures show the number of Rohingya arrivals from Myanmar jumped from just over 650 in fiscal 2014 to 2,573 in 2015

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FILE - Rohingya people pass their time in a damaged shelter in a Rohingya displaced-persons camp outside Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar, Aug. 4, 2015. VOA

But refugees from Myanmar, whose leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, visited Washington last week, have quietly outpaced Syrian arrivals in recent years, even as Syria’s civil war intensifies, with an increasing number coming from the marginalised Rohingya Muslim community, according to State Department figures.

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From October 1, 2015, to September 15 of this year, 11,902 Myanmar nationals were resettled in the United States, according to figures from the Refugee Processing Center, operated by the State Department, compared with 11,598 arrivals from Syria over the same period.

That was out of a total of nearly 79,600 refugees who arrived in the United States in that period. The largest group, numbering just over 15,000, was from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Arrivals from Syria, where Islamic State and other radical groups are active, are subject to additional screening processes, according to the White House.

State Department figures show the number of Rohingya arrivals from Myanmar jumped from just over 650 in fiscal 2014 to 2,573 last year. This year, 2,173 had arrived as of September 15.

During a meeting with Suu Kyi in the Oval Office last Wednesday, Obama announced that the United States would remove sanctions originally imposed on the country in 1997 when it was ruled by a military junta that brutally suppressed pro-democracy movements and showed little regard for human rights.

The decision raised alarm among rights groups, who are concerned about the plight of the stateless Rohingya among other ethnic minorities.

FILE - A boy searches for useful items among the ashes of burned-down dwellings at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine state near Sittwe, May 3, 2016.
FILE – A boy searches for useful items among the ashes of burned-down dwellings at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state near Sittwe, May 3, 2016. VOA

Long-persecuted minority

The Rohingya have long been persecuted in Myanmar, where they are viewed largely as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though many have lived in the country for generations.

Increased freedom of speech since the military stepped back from the direct rule in 2011 has allowed for the unleashing of long-held anti-Muslim sentiment.

Around 125,000 remain confined to temporary camps in Myanmar’s Rakhine state following waves of deadly violence in 2012 between Buddhists and Muslims. Most were stripped of their ability to vote in last year’s election.

Most Rohingya tend to come to the United States after spending years in Muslim-majority Malaysia and being granted refugee status by the United Nations.

Nasir Bin Zakaria, who founded the Rohingya Culture Center in Chicago — home to one of the largest populations of Rohingya in the United States — estimates that there are just over 1,000 Rohingya in the city. He fled Myanmar after being forced to work as a porter when he was 16, he said.

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Nasir Bin Zakaria said that the ability to move around freely and legally made life in Chicago far better than in Myanmar and Malaysia, but it is not without its own challenges for refugees. The city of 2.7 million is struggling with a surge of killings, with 509 killings this year, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Newly arrived children from refugee families, unfamiliar to the United States, are an enticing target for gangs looking to recruit, said Melineh Kano, executive director of RefugeeOne, a resettlement agency in Chicago.

“When we are selecting neighbourhoods, we have to be very careful about the crime rate and gang recruitment, because the majority of refugees come with kids,” she said. “You either join or you get beaten up.” (VOA)

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Crossfire between Rohingya Insurgents and Myanmar Military leaves Hindu Refugees In a Deadlock

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh

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Rohingya Hindu refugees
A Rohingya refugee distributes wheat, donated by locals, among other refugees at a camp for the refugees in New Delhi, India.
  • The Hindu refugees, who fled to Bangladesh, have placed their hopes on the Modi  government 
  • The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state
  • The Indian government was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting Rohingya Muslims from the country 

New Delhi, September 21, 2017: The crossfire between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar’s military has left hundreds of Hindus, who fled to Bangladesh, placing their hopes on the Indian government.

Around 500 Hindus have taken shelter in a cleared-out chicken farm, in a Hindu hamlet in the southeast of Bangladesh. The place is situated at a distance of a couple of miles, where most of the 421,000 Rohingya Muslims, who also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25, have taken abode, mentions the Reuters report.

The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to their villages in the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s restless Rakhine state. Modi government, meanwhile, is working to make things easier for Hindus, christians, Buddhists, and other minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain access to Indian citizenship.

“India is also known as Hindustan, the land of the Hindus,” said a Hindu refugee, Niranjan Rudra, “We just want a peaceful life in India, not much. We may not get that in Myanmar or here.”

The fellow refugees agreed and shared their desire of getting this message received by the Indian government through media.

The Indian government, however, has declined to comment on hopes of Hindu refugees. it was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims from India.

Achintya Biswas, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also called the World Hindu Council, on the other hand, stated India as the natural destination for the Hindus fleeing Myanmar.

Also readStop Lecturing And Demonizing India over its Plan to Deport 40,000 Stateless Rohingya Muslims: Minister

“Hindu families must be allowed to enter India by the government,” Biswas said, according to a report by Reuters, “Where else will they go? This is their place of origin.”

Biswas said the VHP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, would be submitting a report to the home ministry demanding a new policy that would be allowing Hindu refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek asylum in India.

While India’s Home Ministry spokesman, K.S. Dhatwalia declined to comment, a senior home ministry official in New Delhi, on the condition of anonymity, mentioned that no Hindu in Myanmar or Bangladesh affected by the violence had approached Indian authorities.

“At this juncture we have no SOS calls from Hindus,” the official said.

“Also, the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether India should deport Rohingya Muslims or not. The matter is sub-judice and any policy decision will be taken only after the court’s order.”

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rudra along with other Hindu refugees talked about how they fled soon after Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 Myanmar police posts, instigating a fierce military counterattack.

“Our village in Myanmar was surrounded by hundreds of men in black masks on the morning of Aug. 25,” said Veena Sheel, a mother-of-two whose husband works in Malaysia.

“They called some men out and asked them to fight the security forces … a few hours after we heard gunshots,” she added.

Soon after taking office in 2014, the Modi government issued orders stating that no Hindu, or refugees of other minority from Bangladesh and Pakistan would be deemed as illegal immigrants even if they had entered the country without having the required documents, on or before December 31, 2014.

India, indeed, is in a tough situation, where it can’t compromise with the principles it holds being a Secular nation that is always engaged in humanitarian activities, but will also need to keep in mind the potential security threats that might come along with such an act of acceptance.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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DACA is a Bold Welcome Step by President Trump

Stand for immigrants! But, please stand for legal immigrants, not fence crossers!

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Protest against Ending the DACA
Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA chant slogans and hold signs while joining a Labor Day rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 4, 2017.VOA

I congratulate President Trump for taking the bold decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

President Obama had introduced DACA under which kids brought illegally in the USA did not have to worry about deportation. DACA allowed these otherwise undocumented children to stay on and even get jobs. Now, since DACA has been rescinded by President Trump, it is estimated that 800,000 such beneficiaries risk being declared illegal and deported. However, it may be noted that Trump has asked Congress to legislate this issue and in effect has opened the possibility of finding some alternative solution.

The immigration system is in shambles in this country.  Millions of law abiding immigrants who enter the country with proper documents have to wait for painful long years to acquire the permanent residency (Green Card). Why? Because the immigration system is lethargic, inefficient and poorly funded. Also, legal immigrants do not constitute a big vote bank: after all educated, law abiding people do not turn into herds, flocks and tribes to demand swifter justice! Why would they? Also, the immigration policy is extremely biased and compartmentalizes people of different nationalities (thus,  legal immigrants from Europe (read the White) do not have to stand in long line (in other words, their Priority Date (PD) is typically always Current), but people from China, India have to wait for excruciatingly long years to get their Green Card (those who think India alone has social injustice in form of caste-based reservation where ‘castocracy’ trumps meritocracy, think twice! USA has a nationality-based reservation!).

No one talks about fixing the broken immigration system. The liberal media in the USA seems to have a permanent amnesia towards this issue. But, talk about illegal (undocumented workers) and the Democrats and liberal (I call them pseudo-liberal) media would erupt into an uproar. Obama had 8 full years to turn the monstrous immigration system into a vehicle of justice, equality, and the land of law. But, his priorities were elsewhere. The one thing Obama did not forget was to announce Amnesty for the illegal announcement. Amnesty is like awarding a lotto: in a single swift shot, overnight an illegally staying person in the USA becomes legal. What a joke! And, also, it is a slap on law abiding people who enter the country to make American dream true. A just society does not reward illegal immigrants with jackpots (read Amnesty), while legal immigrants continue to languish in the hope of getting their Green Cards!

Let us not forget DACA was the brain child of Obama only.

It is ludicrous to see Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft and other silicon valley companies raising a hue and cry about the death of DACA. All along these years, they should have lobbied hard for strengthening H1B visa program so that skillful professionals could come more easily to the US and contribute to the innovation and enterprise.

And one more point: Why is there an impression that Latinos come out openly in support of illegal immigrants? It is one thing if crowds come out and protest AGAINST illegal immigration. But perplexingly enough, human right advocates, liberal groups never tire out taking to the streets to support undocumented workers.

An illegal is illegal. S(he) is taking away space for a rightful person.

Stand for immigrants! But, please stand for legal immigrants, not fence crossers!

The author is the Editor-in-Chief of NewsGram. Twitter @drMunishRaizada

 

 

 

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Stop Lecturing And Demonizing India over its Plan to Deport 40,000 Stateless Rohingya Muslims: Minister

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming centuries-old roots

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Rohingya refugee girl
Rohingya refugee watch children attend madrass in a temporary shelter on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Wednesday, Aug.16,2017. VOA
  • Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have slammed India’s deportation plan as “outrageous”
  • The government says the Rohingya Muslims are illegal immigrants and should deported because they pose a potential security threat
  • There is no other country in the world which hosts so many refugees, so don’t demonize us, don’t give us lecture
Rights groups should stop lecturing and demonizing India over its plan to deport 40,000 stateless Rohingya and recognize that the country has treated millions of refugees from across the world humanely, a senior official said this week.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government says the Rohingya Muslims who have fled to India because of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are illegal immigrants and should deported because they pose a potential security threat.

“India is the most humane nation in the world,” said junior interior minister Kiren Rijiju, defending an order to states to identify and deport the Rohingya — including 16,500 registered with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).

“There is no other country in the world which hosts so many refugees, so don’t demonize us, don’t give us lecture,” Rijiju said.

Hundreds of thousands have fled Myanmar, where they are marginalized and sometimes subjected to communal violence, with many taking refuge in Bangladesh — and some then crossing a porous border into Hindu-majority India.

FILE - Children of Rohingya refugees attend a temporary school run by a nongovernmental organization at a camp for Rohingyas in New Delhi, India, Aug. 16, 2017.
FILE – Children of Rohingya refugees attend a temporary school run by a nongovernmental organization at a camp for Rohingyas in New Delhi, India, Aug. 16, 2017. VOA

On Monday, Myanmar security forces intensified operations against Rohingya insurgents, following three days of clashes with militants in the worst violence involving the Muslim minority in five years.

Indian minister Rijiju said registration with the UNHCR was irrelevant.

India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which spells out states’ responsibilities toward refugees. Nor does it have a domestic law to protect refugees.

ALSO READ: Refugees in India Looming For Basic Rights: Here Is Why India Needs Refugee Law! 

The Rohingya will be sent back from India in a humane way, following due legal processes, Rijiju added.

“We are not going to shoot them, nor are we planning to throw them in the ocean,” he said Monday.

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have slammed India’s deportation plan as “outrageous.”

Asia’s third-largest economy is bound by customary international law — the principle of non-refoulement — where it cannot forcibly return refugees to a place where they face danger, they say. (VOA)