AS THE monsoon rain starts, many have expressed grave concern about the living condition of Rohigya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar. The possibilities of safe, voluntary and sustainable return seems a distant reality as the bilateral agreements signed between the government of Myanmar and Bangladesh failed to make any real progress. Since November 23, 2017, the two governments signed three instruments for return of forcibly displaced Rohingya community. Defying any moral reasoning, all diplomatic decorum, and international laws to deescalate violence in Rakhaine state, Myanmar took little to no actions in implementing the bilateral agreements. In this context, it was expected that the United Nations Security Council would take bold steps to mount pressure on Myanmar government. However, its role remains futile on resolving the crisis as China and Russia prioritised their respective ‘national interest’ in Maynmar over the humanitarian cause of Rohingyas. At a UNSC discussion early Tuesday, as reported in New Age on Wednesday, UNSC member states, except China and Russia, have called for robust council actions so that Myanmar addresses the root cause of the Rohingya crisis. Clearly, China and Russsia chose to stand on the wrong side of the history.
What is even more disconcerting is China and Russia insisted on bilateral diplomatic negotiation when the failures of the existing agreements are global public knowledge. It has strongly opposed the internationalisation of Rohingya crisis for ‘narrow political interests of some member states’ while the geopolitical interests of these two countries in Myanmar are in plain sight. Some of the Chinese corporations currently doing business in or offshore of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where the abuse is taking place, are China National Offshore Oil Corporation and PetroChina. Russia has similar interest in Myanmar. In the past years, Myanmar was the second largest buyer of Russian weapons in Southeast Asia. They are shielding Myanmar to the extent they are even lending voice to the propaganda of the violent regime. The Russian delegation at the meeting claimed that the Myanmar authorities were maintaining transparency without any effort to conceal and deny any fact on the matter when it is widely reported how it has restricted movement of journalists and aid workers in the Rakhaine state. It is high time that Myanmar and China abandon its position of acquiescence.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh should revisit its economic diplomatic policy with China and Russia and consider it as a tool to dissuade them from supporting Myanmar’s crime against humanity. In recent times, Bangladesh has entered into trade relations with China and Russia on an unequal footing, at times compromising and risking its sovereign interest while they refuse to support Bangladesh on Rohingya issue. Therefore, for Bangladesh to resolve the Rohingya crisis and effectively engage in diplomatic negotiation with Myanmar, as well as China and Russia, it must abandon its subservient policy and strategies of economic diplomacy.
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