“We don’t want to stay in the camps. Enough is enough. Let’s go home.” (Rohingya Community Leader, Sayed Ullah)
Faced with uncertain future and global negligence, the Rohingyas organized ‘Go Home Campaign’ demonstrations in 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar just a day before World Refugee Day, demanding repatriation to their homeland in Myanmar, which they fled amid waves of ethnic and religious persecution dating back to 1978. Demonstrations were held under the slogan “Let’s Go Home.” The Rohingya distributed leaflets with a 19-point demand that includes quick repatriation to Myanmar with citizenship; amendment of the 1982 citizenship law; involvement of various countries and organizations in the repatriation process, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, ASEAN, and Bangladesh; repatriation from village to village; and return of one’s own land and deposit. The Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah first launched the safe and dignified returns campaign in 2019. However, with the assassination of Mohib Ullah, the repatriation movement from the Rohingya community was diverted.
Why is the ‘Go Home’ demand?
The unprecedented move of the Rohingyas under the banner of ‘The Go-home demand’ was caused by a couple of factors. First and foremost, the community is determined to return to their country rather than relying on outside assistance. Second, the recent evolution of the Rohingya camps reveals the establishment of several internal factions linked to trans-border crimes and anti-repatriation activities, which raises insecurity among them. Third, the Rohingya community faced a hostile environment as a result of Myanmar genocide and global ignorance, and they need a unique effort to communicate their demands, which the peaceful Go Home campaign provides. Fourth, the campaign will reject the argument over the Rohingya’s origin and ethnicity, as represented by Burmese authorities. There is no way that anybody calling the Rohingya people are not Myanmar natives. Furthermore, the history of the Rohingya community’s voluntary repatriation has not been smooth, so the Rohingyas knew they had to do something different to get the world’s attention. Nonetheless, the Rohingyas’ willingness to leave their homeland was shown by the Go Home campaign. This demand is significant since the group thinks they belong to their motherland.
How does the region affect by ‘Go Home’?
The relationship between Indo-pacific and South Asia is dependent on stability in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, where the presence of the stateless Rohingyas in the camps is a major source of concern. Moreover, recent economic and strategic ties between the Indo-Pacific and the West have increased the importance of this region more than ever. Besides, China’s phenomenal growth has partly created a development and connectivity opportunities. At the same time, Myanmar and its neighbouring states have the potential to attract foreign investors with its skilled and unskilled labour, and propose a transit for South Asia to connect to the Indo-Pacific region. Rakhine State is the home of millions of Rohingya and is a part of the region’s development. In that case, the area needs a stable socio-economic position and ethnic harmony. So, it is obvious that the continuing Rohingya crisis will hinder the region’s security if the world doesn’t recognize their struggles. The “Go home” program of the Rohingya is a ”wake-up call” for the region and the world.
On the other hand, Rohingya repatriation will benefit Myanmar from several points of view. First, Myanmar is a country that has more than 135 ethnic groups. The return of the Rohingyas is the key for Myanmar if they want national unity among all the ethnic groups and, at the same time, they want to recreate their image. Second, Myanmar is currently facing countless ethnic clashes inside the country. Some ethnic groups like the Rohingyas are now vocal about their rights. The ethnic minorities in Myanmar are struggling to believe in and support the administration. The resolution of the Rohingya crisis can set an example for Myanmar to achieve trust and confidence in the government. Third and more significantly, from an economic standpoint, Myanmar needs a significant economic boost to modernize its society. Due to continuous internal conflicts and the Rohingya issue, Myanmar is an ostracized nation and marked by instability and chaos that hamper its efforts for rebuilding its economy. In that case, supporting the Rohingya repatriation is the pragmatic and most beneficial decision for Myanmar.
The Rohingya crisis represents the quintessential example of human depravity. The Myanmar government has treated these defenseless, and stateless populations with cruelty and inhumanity for decades. On the other hand, the international community has forgot them, although Rohingya populations are residing abroad for decades. Bangladesh, a developing country, continues to assist the Rohingyas and provide them with living facilities from a humanitarian standpoint. Bangladesh simultaneously advocated for the return of the Rohingya people to their homeland in all international and local platforms. However, the situation for Bangladesh and the Rohingyas has remained unchanged, so the community has opted to speak out and demand their rights. “Go home” is the initiative that indicates that the Rohingyas have decided to connect with global actors because their demand is basic and simple as human beings – repatriation to their homes in Myanmar.
[Photo by Tasnim News Agency, via Wikimedia Commons]
*Doreen Chowdhury is an aspiring author and analyst. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral studies at University of Groningen. Her areas of interest are Comparative Politics, Globalization, South Asian Studies and Migration Studies. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.