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Rohingya Muslims fighting to protect their identities

24 July 2012 13:09 (Last updated 24 July 2012 13:13)

AA team entered the camp in Bangladesh where Rohingya Muslims are staying.


Rohingya Muslims who escaped from the violence against them in Arakan region in the west of Myanmar and now staying in camps alongside Bangladesh border with Myanmar are fighting to protect their identities.

Anadolu Agency (AA) team entered on Monday the camp in Bangladesh where Rohingya Muslims are staying. 
Reporting from the camps, AA correspondent said that Rohingya Muslims were fighting to protect their ethnic and religious identities. 
Rohingya Muslims whose citizenship was rejected byMyanmar government due to being Bangladeshis, are now trying to survive under difficult conditions in the camps.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingya Muslims. The government says the Rohingyas are not native and classify them as illegal migrants, although they have lived in Myanmar for generations. 
Myanmar's President Thein Sein had earlier said Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by United Nations.
Rohingya Muslims are also being rejected by Bangladeshi authorities due to crowded population and economical reasons in Bangladesh. 
Speaking to press corps, a Bangladeshi lawmaker claimed that usually jobless people demand to take shelter in their country.

-Information pollution about Rohingya Muslims' population

There is an information pollution about Rohingya Muslims' population in Arakan region. It has been known that their population is between 1 million and 5 million. However, both sides are using different numbers to declare their population. While Myanmar administration says there are 1 million Muslims in the region, Rohingya Muslims say the number is approximately 5 million.
While Bangladeshi government is welcoming Rohingya Muslims to the camps alongside their border, they do not respond to Muslims' demand to take shelter in Bangladesh.

-Fasting for two days without food

Dalo who is an escaper among others told details about her journey to AA correspondent.
With a jobless husband, "They were killing us without discrimination, including children and women. There were no other options rather than fleeing. We have no work, no income here. I have been fasting for two days without a food," she said.
Zuhura Hatun who is a blind woman also said that they were struggling to find food. 
Defining their circumstance as deplorable "There is no time frame like morning or evening for us. Sometimes we do not even got a meal in a day. We are fasting but if we find something, we will be able break our fast with a food," she said.
Mentioning that there was no option like going back to Arakan, "If we return there we can not stay alive. Better to live here as hungry rather than going back and dying there," Zahura Hatun said.

-Violence against Rohingya Muslims dates back to 1940s

Around 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar.
Decades of discrimination has left the Rohingya stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.
Violence against them dates back to 1940s.
Some Muslim groups in Arakan took up arms against ethnic cleansing and religious violence years ago. However they failed.
After 1950s, the violence against Rohingya Muslims escalated. They were being forced to abandon the region.
Around 28,000 Rohingya Muslims are currently living in the camps alongside Bangladesh border. Moreover, hundreds of them are trying to survive in several villages and at mountains out of the camps. 

Reporting by Mustafa Keles