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National Security 2020: Pondering Why Rohingyas Are Hated In Myanmar – Part 2 of 4

refugee rohingya

According to the UNHCR, it is estimated that there are about 25.9 million refugees all around the world of which, more of than a million is Rohingya refugees. The impact of these refugees on the host nation is, unfortunately, is not positive. Image source: UNHCR

Read Part 1 here

I initially planned for just one post on this topic but as I keep reading the materials and digging more information, the planned post which supposes to be about 1,000 words somehow spiralled to more than 4,000 words and growing.

It did not make sense to put one very long post which may be too much to read. Besides breaking it up into 4 parts will allow me to keep up with new contents for the blog for at least 2 weeks,

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Concern to Malaysia

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The video was back in 2016 but the tension between the locals and the immigrants around Selayang has persisted since then.

rohingya selayang lock down

Ever since the enhanced lockdown was put in place at Selayang Baru especially the Selayang Wet market, a known place for the illegal immigrant, they have been in the bad side of the news lately. Image source: Free Malaysia Today

Apparently their unhygienic way of living, unrealistic demands from Malaysia and comments in the social media have irked Malaysians to the core. Pictures of these immigrants tying up cows by the roadside and keeping chickens & goats inside the house have surfaced on social media.

And before that, there were complaints of illegal stalls put up by these illegal immigrants in front of legal, licensed stalls depriving them of customers. Of course, no can expect these immigrants to pay any taxes.

Such problems with these Rohingyas especially those living around the Selayang area are well known. These illegal immigrants have been breaking the law without any care or respect is also well known. There have been many times that these illegal immigrants using the UNHCR cards gotten away after breaking the law. Some may even be with fake UNHCR cards.

This is accumulated to an increased call from Malaysians to deport these illegal immigrants.

But the safe haven for the Rohingya that Malaysia once seemed to offer has turned into hell for him and his peers, as hostility against them has reached new heights amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic that has afflicted poor migrant communities and sparked xenophobia.

The xenophobia seemed to have reached its peak after alleged postings by the president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia, Mr Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani. The postings, which he has said were not written by him, demanded equal rights and citizenship for the Rohingya.

This led to hateful online comments, such as “send them back to where they came from”, “if a paramilitary wing is set up to gun them down with machine guns, count me in. Ethnic cleansing is fun”, and, “now, we know why the Myanmar government murdered them”.


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Even till now, there are many boats filled with these illegal immigrants on their way to Malaysia which most of them have confirmed as the country of preference.

Concern to Arab Saudi

Interestingly this “change of heart” is not only happening in Malaysia.

There is always a call for Muslims to help other Muslims in need but does this happen in real? One of the expectations is that the Middle East countries would be helping out these illegal immigrants by taking them in. But in reality, even they hesitating to assist these illegal immigrants.

Saudi Arabia who supposes to be the main Muslim country is also deporting these Rohingyas who are also Muslims in mass numbers:-

Saudi Arabia has continued to deport Rohingya to Bangladesh despite calls from the United Nations to give members of the stateless minority refuge in the Gulf kingdom.

Footage sent to Middle East Eye on Friday showed Rohingya who had been detained indefinitely by Saudi Arabia for several years, handcuffed and en route to Jeddah airport.

The detained Rohingya can be seen on a bus in the middle of the Saudi desert, alongside other detainees of the Shumaisi detention centre, set for deportation.


Apparently Rohingya refugees who fled to Saudi Arabia in the years between 1992 to 2011 did so by obtaining passports using fake documents provided by organized human trafficking groups.

Rohingya refugees who fled to Saudi Arabia in the years between 1992 to 2011 did so by obtaining passports using fake documents provided by organized human trafficking groups.

With these forged documents, Rohingya refugees were able to obtain temporary immigrant status and work visas in the Kingdom, but then “all this changed in 2011 when Saudi Arabia introduced a fingerprint-based immigration control system,”

As their fingerprints were registered according to the passports they have presented at entry points, they have been identified as different nationality than their original country, Burma or Myanmar,”

Saudi Arabia has launched an unforgiving and uncompromising crackdown on its Rohingya refugees, carrying out a series of immigration raids and incarcerating those who possess fake documents or confess to entering the country illegally.


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Concern to India

india rohingya

It gets bad in India which is neighbouring Bangladesh and also open for intrusion from illegal immigrants from Myanmar via the sea.

To make the matter worse, there is a strong anti-Muslim campaign by some extremists and an issue with the current changes to the citizenship laws in the country where Indian citizenship for non-Muslims who arrived in India before 31st December 2014, from its Muslim-majority neighbours, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan is fast-tracked compared to the same who are Muslims and had arrived in India before 31st December 2014.

It is not a big secret that considering the number of problems that the country already facing, the last thing they need is an influx of illegal refugees who may end up becoming serious to their national security. Image source: Jakarta Globe

It is also deporting these illegal immigrants:-

United Nation human rights experts have expressed dismay over forced deportation of Rohingya Muslims by India, according to a statement by UN Human Rights Council.

“We are dismayed by the decision of the Indian Government to continue forced returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, where they face high risk of attacks, reprisals and other forms of persecution because of their ethnic and religious identity,” said the statement issued on Tuesday.

India has deported eight Rohingya to Myanmar in two batches since the beginning of 2019.

In 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had told the country’s top court that it considers the Rohingya “a security threat.”


As to how these illegal immigrants pose a threat to India’s national security, various news agencies quoted the following factors:-

Factor 1 – Present violence by armed Rohingya militants in Myanmar 

India shared Myanmar’s concerns about “extremist violence” in Rakhine state.

This is after Myanmar says its forces are carrying out their legitimate duty to restore order after guerrilla attacks on Aug. 25 on security posts and an army camp in which about a dozen people were killed.

Violent methods adopted by insurgent groups has alienated the community further and sowed a fear among the Buddhists of the area.

Factor 2 – Possible connection between Rohingya and other terrorist groups already in war with India

Intelligence agencies suspect that Rohingya Muslim leaders in India are in touch with Pakistan-based militant groups.

There are also reports that the IS and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) are trying to recruit Rohingyas taking refuge in Jammu while the Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, has also supported the Rohingyas.

AqaMul Mujahidin, the terrorist outfit of Rohingya Muslims, has links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and LeT, all in Pakistan.

According to a 2016 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) ARSA leader Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a.k.a. Hafiz Tohar, was born in Karachi and went to a madrassa in Saudi Arabia.

ARSA mentor Abdus Qadoos Burmi, another Pakistani of Rohingya descent, has even appeared in meetings with LeT supremo Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed. According to ICG, ARSA is led by a committee of Rohingya immigrants in Saudi Arabia

Factor 3 – Other illegal activities that undermine the security of the country

Rohingyas have involvement in “illegal/anti-national activities i.e mobilisation of funds through hundi/hawala channels, procuring fake/fabricated Indian identity documents for other Rohingyas/Bangladeshis, and also indulging in human trafficking”.

Concern to Bangladesh

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This is a UNHCR video on the magnitude of the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh – the world’s largest refugee camp in the world with almost 900,000 refugees and you will know how strained these refugees are on the host country.

Bangladesh presently hosting about 1.1 million Rohingya refugees (as at September 2018) and they have been bearing the brunt of the influx of refugees since the crisis started. They have put a strain on Bangladesh’s infrastructure, finance and security and there are more waiting to cross over to Bangladesh.

It has come to a point where Bangladesh may not even rescue these illegal immigrants stranded in high seas:-

The Bangladesh government has refused to allow some 500 Rohingya refugees stranded on board two fishing trawlers in the Bay of Bengal to come ashore, drawing criticism from rights groups.

“Why should Bangladesh take the responsibility every time? Momen asked.

“Bangladesh has already taken more than a million of Rohingya. We are running out of our generosity now.”


Many are running out of generosity considering the numbers of illegal immigrants entering their borders and causing problems with the locals.

China’s Support Factor

One should not discount China, Myanmar’s close ally in assisting Myanmar to fend off the international pressure in regards to the Rohingya’s crisis.

Over the past two and a half years of the current Rohingya crisis, Myanmar’s neighbours have demonstrated extreme reluctance to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi over the Tatmadaw’s behaviour.

The reason is simple: China. China has made clear that it will not sanction Myanmar for the security forces’ behaviour in Rakhine – or in any of its other insurgencies.

Chinese diplomats have actively sought to protect Myanmar from criticism at the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere.

If Myanmar’s largest trading partner won’t support sanctions, then there seems little point in others imposing them. India sees itself locked in a zero-sum game with China for influence in Southeast Asia, so it is very unlikely to support punitive measures.


To be continued in Part 3

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