12 Rohingyas are Human Too! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:28 AM ]
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' meaning 'the whole world is one family', is an ancient Sanskrit phrase found in the Maha Upanishad, one of the sacred texts of Hinduism. This important phrase underlines a basic tenet of Hindu philosophy, which includes welcoming, hospitality, tolerance, harmony, unity and adaptability. For several centuries, India as a country, and a large percentage of Indians have been doing their best to live up to this ideal. India has been home to races, nationalities, tribes, religions and cultures from across the world.

India has always been a welcoming home to refugees. During the bloody and painful days of Partition, there was a steady influx of refugees into India. Thanks to the statesmanship of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, several hundreds of thousands of Tibetan refugees (including the Dalai Lama) have made India their home for more than fifty years now. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 saw another major influx into the country; it was estimated that more than ten million East Bengali refugees entered India to escape mass killings and the brutality of that war. Though most returned to Bangladesh after independence, an estimated 1.5 million have continued to stay on in India. The Soviet-Afghan war of 1979, the more than twenty-five years of civil war in Sri Lanka since 1983, the atrocities on minorities in Myanmar, have in their wake brought in huge numbers of Afghanis, Sri Lankan Tamils, Chins and Rohingyas into India.

The persecuted Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar today and the stand of the current Indian Government is very much in the news. The Rohingyas (1.2 million approx.) are an ethnic minority group, mainly Muslim, who are concentrated in Myanmar's Rakhine State. Despite having roots and living in the Buddhist-majority country for centuries, the Rohingyas since 1982 are denied citizenship, disenfranchised, regarded as illegal immigrants and rendered stateless. Since the late 1970s, many of them have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, particularly Bangladesh.

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