Political Repression, Ethnic Conflict and Refugees

Political Repression, Ethnic Conflict and Refugees

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Every year, hundreds of thousands people are leaving their countries. Being different from normal immigrants, these people are actually forced to leave their homeland. The reasons vary but have one thing in common: they fear to go back. They are called refugees. The practice of granting asylum to people fleeing persecution in foreign lands is one of the earliest hallmarks of civilization. References to it have been found in texts written 3,500 years ago. According to the International Refugee Law, refugee refers to the people who outside his or her country of origin, unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country or to return there for fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. (Jastram, 2001) What make them leave their own countries and being refugees? How to resolve these refugee problems?
Actually, not all the people who are forced to leave their countries due to the reasons stated above are regarded as refugees. The term of Asylum Seeker is different with Refugee. Asylum Seeker is defined as a person who has left their country of origin and applied for recognition as a refugee in another country, but is still awaiting a decision on their application. (RefugeeCouncil, 2011) When the people are forced to leave their own countries and immigrant to another one like United States, they are referred to as Asylum seekers until their requests for refuge have been accepted. It usually takes time to precede the recognition of asylum seeker’s protection need, however, after which he or she is officially recognized as a refugee. According to the data in 2011, United State held the largest number of Asylum seekers and Refugees: 63,803 registered Asylum Seekers and 275,461 refugees. (UNHCR, 2011) The rights to determine whether a person is a refugee or not are reserved by a certain agency in the host country. If an asylum seeker does not meet the refugee reorganization standard which varies from country to country, he or she might be recognized as illegal migrants. Some host countries often deport the failed asylum applicants after detentions, as in the United Kingdom.
The underlying facts that cause refugees vary depend on region. The two causes that I would like to describe here are Political repression and ethnic conflict. In the term of political repression, it refers to the prosecution of certain political system that harms a certain group of nationalities.

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When a political entity takes power in a country and begins to banish the people who have different political perspective, this situation is usually refers to dictatorship or Fascism. Those who are not willing to accept it are drove into exile. For instance, during the WWII, numbers of former government officials went into exile and moved to England then became refugees because of the threat of Nazi. The refugees due to political reason decreased through years after WWII, but still exist today. This kind of refugees and asylum-seekers are likely found from the countries which are carrying on oligarchy and autocracy, like North Korea.
Ever since the communist government was established, there are numbers of people escaped from North Korea seeking for refuge. Most of them stay in China. In the year of 2007, “U.S. State Department estimates that 30,000-50,000 North Korean refugees currently live in China.” (Margesson, 2007) One of the major underlying causes is political repression. The North Korean communist government established hundreds of concentration camp to hold the political criminals who were against their regime or showed any specious action of treason. “The structure of the North Korean repressive and police system developed under a strong Soviet influence” (Lankov, 1995) Like a perfect replica to Stalin system, North Korean government are carrying on a zero-tolerance to the different voice among its population, maintaining their regime relying on its intensive repressive system. It is one of the most highly controlled nation on earth even traveling within the country is controlled. “Travel by North Koreans within and outside of their country is strictly controlled, and violators who are caught are subject to punishment.” (Margesson, 2007) To solve this problem, the government should completely change their policies treating their own citizen. A democratic society and political system should be established, along with the abolishment of its repressive and police system. At last, the refugees in foreign countries should be allowed to return their home without any restrictions.
Comparing to political repression, ethnical conflict is much more complex and common. The earliest ethnical conflict can be dated back to the beginning of human civilization itself. People are usually confused with ethnic group and race. Actually “neither ethnicity nor race is genealogically or biologically determined; they are both social constructs.” (Abizadeh, 2001) People intend to distinguish themselves from the other by culture, religion and even economic status. The conflict may occur between ethnic groups. When this conflict grows out of control, it may turn into war between nations, and then causes a numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers. For instance, the ethnic conflicts between Tibetans and Han Chinese forced tens of thousands of Tibetans abandoned their home and walk across Himalaya mountain to India. Since Chinese established the Han-leading autonomic government in Tibet, the ethnical conflicts had never rested. The ethnic issues in Tibet is complex, consists of many aspects, including the interference in Buddhist religious rites, tightened discriminated ethnical and political control and the destruction of the environment. (Yardley, 2008) Although the Chinese central government emphasized their efforts on economic development in Tibet, they are criticized by international society for interfering Tibetan culture and religion, especially for the genocide in 1989. The current polies in Tibet prohibit their religious leader the Dalai Lama from returning the holy land of Lhasa. Beside this, The requests from Dalai Lama for building a real autonomic region of Buddhism in Tibet is regarded by Han-leading government as a separation action and the threat of unity of nation. Many faithful Buddhists left Tibet for Dharamshala where their spiritual leader lives. Recent years, the refugee issue of Tibet attracted more attention from international society as the developing economy in Tibet is gradually becoming a threat to Tibetan culture. In order to solve this issue, certain changes in the religion and ethnic policies should be made by Chinese government. The central government should admit the spiritual leader position of Dalai Lama in gives certain respects to the freedom of religion in Tibet. It also needs to control the migration of Han people to Tibet region in order to reduce the influences of massive Han population movement to Tibetan culture.
The refugee issues in the modern world are more likely related to the unnatural causes than any other period of time in history. The behaviors, actions and policies people are taking are causing more refugees than famine and other natural disasters. In order to solve the refugee issues, it requires the cooperation among the international society to help those countries to make a change, so that one day, the refugees will return home.

Works Cited

Abizadeh, A. (2001). Ethnicity, Race, and a Possible Humanity. World Order, 23.
Jastram, M. K. (2001). The Legal Frame Work of International Refugee. In M. K. Jastram, REFUGEE PROTECTION:A Guide to International Refugee Law (p. 8).
Lankov, D. (1995). THE REPRESSIVE SYSTEM AND THE POLITICAL CONTROL IN NORTH KOREA. Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura.
Margesson, R. (2007). North Korean Refugees in China and Human Rights Issues. Washington D.C.: Congrassional Reserch Service.
RefugeeCouncil. (2011). Asylum and Detention. Retrieved April 07, 2011, from RefugeeCouncil: http://www.rcusa.org/index.php?page=asylum-and-detention
UNHCR. (2011, Jan). Statistical Profile of United States. Retrieved Apirl 07, 2011, from The UN Refugee Agency: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/page?page=49e492086
Yardley, J. (2008). Chinese policies led slowly to backlash in Tibet. New York Times, 1.
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