They were once the residents of Rakhine state. Then they became victims of persecution. Then they turned into refugees, desperately crossing the Naf river to seek refuge in Bangladesh. And now they have become a burden, who everyone sympathises with but no one bothers to support with meaningful action in their quest for a return to their land, except of course Bangladesh—the nation currently hosting them—and a handful of other nations such as The Gambia.
The protracted stalemate over the Rohingya refugees continues with Myanmar doing absolutely nothing to create a conducive environment for their return. On the contrary, over the last few years, Myanmar has bulldozed Rohingya villages in Rakhine state and established new installations and infrastructure. A recent report by Al Jazeera stated that the UN has said that Myanmar has erased the name of Kan Kya—once a Rohingya land—from its official maps.
According to the same Al Jazeera report, “Where Kan Kya once stood, there are now dozens of government and military buildings including a sprawling, fenced-off police base, according to satellite images publicly available on Google Earth and historical images provided to Reuters by Planet Labs… On maps produced in 2020 by the United Nations mapping unit in Myanmar, which it says are based on Myanmar government maps, the site of the destroyed village is now nameless and reclassified as part of nearby town Maungdaw.”
Kan Kya is just one of the more than dozen villages whose names have been changed or erased in Myanmar. And since 2017, more than 400 villages once inhabited by the Rohingya have been razed to the ground. The Rohingya refugees fear that this is a tactic by the Myanmar government to completely remove the possibility of the Rohingya refugees ever returning to Myanmar. If they have no roots, where will they return?