SRINAGAR – Escaping death on the hands of extremist Buddhists in their homeland, thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees are facing humiliation after being forced into cheap laboring in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“Since we left our homeland, we have not been accepted anywhere as if we are not humans,” Ahmad Irshad, a Rohingya refugee, told Press TV on Sunday, November 10.
“We’ve lost respect, honor and dignity,” he added.
Like thousands of Rohingyas, Irshad risked his life to escape death and humiliation by extremist Buddhists in his homeland in Burma.
Thousands of them arrived to India, which is not a signatory to the United Nations convention relating to the status of refugees.
Since there is no law that deals with foreign refugees, the government decides whether or not to grant the Rohingyas refugee status on a case-by-case basis, leaving thousands in dire condition.
Arriving in Kashmir, Rohingya Muslim refugees were pushed into cheap labor where he worked in a walnut packaging factory.
Though offering very little money, it was the only chance for Rohingyas earn their living.
“They pay us hardly two dollars a day,” said Maryam Batool, a Rohingya refugee.
“Since our children have no school to attend, we bring them along and they also make some money by working at least 10 hours a day.”
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.
They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.
The Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.
In July 2012, Burmese President Thein Sein said that Rohingyas should be settled in a third country.
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