Update: May 14, 7:15 pm

The appalling inhumanity toward desperate refugees shown in some parts of the world continues with the news that Malaysia and Thailand are turning away hundreds, if not thousands, of starving boat people fleeing persecution in Burma who now face almost certain death after their boats were abandoned by smugglers.

The full report is available at the Huffington Post. See:

Refugee Crisis Looms As Malaysia, Thailand, Turn Away Hundreds Of Boat People


My original post follows:

Recently, Europe's inadequate response to the drownings of hundreds, if not over a thousand, of refugees trying to reach Southern Europe from North Africa was in the headlines. Now, another horrendous refugee crisis is in the news, this time in Southeast Asia:

The Guardian, among many other media covering this story, is running an Associated Press report dated May 12 from Langkawi Island in Malaysia, where more than 1,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees from Burma (Myanmar) have landed, only to face being turned away and sent back out to sea by the Malaysian authorities.

See: Malaysia says it will turn away migrants stranded at sea unless boats are sinking


The Guardian/AP report states:

"South-east Asia is in the grips of a spiraling humanitarian crisis as boats packed with Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees are being washed ashore, some after being stranded at sea for more than two months. [Emphasis added.]

As many as 6,000 asylum seekers are feared to be trapped at sea in crowded, wooden boats, and activists warn of potentially dangerous conditions as food and clean water runs [sic] low."

The report continues:

"One boat sent out a distress signal, with migrants saying they had been without food or water for three days..."
[Emphasis added.]

And also:

"Malaysia's announcement comes after Indonesia had also turned back a ship, giving those on board rice, water and directions to go to Malaysia."

Why are the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Burma, willing to risk winding up in such desperate conditions in order to find a new home?

The Guardian/AP report explains:

"Labeled by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, the Rohingya have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in the Buddhist-majority Burma, where they have limited access to education and adequate healthcare.

In the last three years, attacks by Buddhist mobs have left 280 people dead and forced 140,000 others from their homes. They now live in apartheid conditions in crowded conditions just outside the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe."

​And what is the legal status of this persecuted minority in their native country, Burma, from which they are so anxious to escape?

The Guardian/AP report informs us:

"At annual ASEAN meetings, the most recent, ironically on Langkawi - Burma has blocked all discussion about its 1.3 million Rohingya, insisting that they are illegal settlers from Bangladesh even though many of their families arrived generations ago."
(Emphasis added.)

The report also describes them as "effectively stateless".

Here is one example of the appalling suffering which can be caused by a nation's denial of birthright citizenship to a particular minority group which, for religious, racial or whatever other reasons, it does not want to accept into its society.

As I pointed out in my May 12 Immigration Daily post, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) states that one of his subcommittees is now looking into the more restrictive birthright citizenship practices of the great majority of the world's countries (except for those in the Americas, almost all of which follow the US practice of universal birthright citizenship, according to the Center for Immigration Studies).

Goodlatte's contention is that if so many countries restrict or deny the right to automatic citizenship through birth in the country's territory, there might be some good reason for this policy, which maybe America should consider adopting. The purpose, of course, would be to take away this Constitutionally-guaranteed right from millions of Latino and other non-white US-born children whose parents may lack legal immigration status - or may have legal visas without being permanent residents or US citizens themselves, as some members of his party are proposing.

While this may arguably be an extreme case, in a country which is not known for its adherence to democratic principles or respect for human rights, Burma's denial of citizenship rights to the Rohingya minority, even though born in that country with Burma-born ancestors going back for generations in many instances, has beyond any doubt contributed to the terrible circumstances that thousands of members of this persecuted group are experiencing now.

One might ask what Goodlatte has in store for the millions of American children whose 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship (as upheld by a definitive Supreme Court ruling more than a century ago) he appears to be so interested in looking into ways and means of taking away.

Goodlatte might also wish to explain whether Burma's restrictions against birthright citizenship are among the foreign laws on this topic which he is so confident that America can benefit from studying or possibly even adopting as our nation's policy. However, I would not recommend that ID readers hold their breath waiting for Rep. Goodlatte to comment on this particular question.