When three-year-old Alan Kurdi was washed up on the Mediterranean Sea, the image of the dead toddler highlighted the refugee crisis. In a dark moment reminiscent of it, 16-month-old Mohammed Shohayet, a Rohingya refugee drowned with his family while escaping the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
CNN reports, in a bid to escape the violence of Myanmar's Rakhine state, Mohammed along with his mother, uncle and 3-year old brother fled their home. However, not far from, all of them drowned. So, why were the running away from their own home?
Who are the Rohingyas and why is Myanmar torturing them?
One of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya people are an ethnic Muslim group from the Rakhine State in Myanmar, which has a majority population of Buddhists. While the Rohingya traces its origins back to the fifteenth century, ever since independence in 1948, governments in Burma (renamed as Myanmar in 1989) denied any recognition to the group and identified them as 'illegal Bengali immigrants.'
Due to this, Rohingya people are forced to stay in ghetto-like camp areas. Probes conducted by UN have discovered that while Buddhists have a deep-rooted hatred against the group, Burmese security forces have been conducting execution, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment.
A report in 2015 by Al Jazeera says, that in order for the Rohingya people to attain citizenship, they need to prove that they have lived in Myanmar for 60 years. However, while this paperwork takes longer than usual or never takes place, their subsequent claim to get services for health, education also get obstructed.
Despite living in Myanmar for generations, Rohingya people are confined to slum-like areas where they are beaten, raped and have grown malnourished as well. While many fled away by boat, others drowned like Mohammed.
What do the authorities say?
While the Myanmar government flatly denies allegations of such abuses, it was under the international pressure that Aung San Suu Kyi ordered a commission to investigate the attacks.
Meanwhile, the United Nations have been getting daily reports of rapes and killings of Rohingya minority.
In December, while Suu Kyi said that the government is committed to the resolution of the Rakhine state but added that "time and space are critical for the efforts to bear fruits."
On the other hand, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said in a statement that the government, led Suu Kyi, had taken a "short-sighted, counterproductive, even callous" approach to the crisis, risking grave long-term repercussions for the region.
What is the current scenario?
The commission appointed by Suu Kyi issued interim findings refuting allegations of abuses by security forces on Wednesday, even as authorities were still investigating alleged police abuses after a video emerged appearing to show officers beating and kicking Rohingya villagers.
The report submitted by the commission states the fact that the 'Bengali' population is residing in the Maungtaw region, proves that there has been no genocide and religious persecution in the region. It added that no cases of malnutrition were found in the area.
Matthew Smith, founder of campaign group Fortify Rights, said the commission's report was sharply at odds with accounts collected by researchers interviewing civilians in northern Rakhine and those who have fled to Bangladesh. Smith added that the commission is "whitewashing" the atrocities inflicted upon the group by the army.
(With inputs from Reuters)