MYANMAR’S proposal to Bangladesh to stop providing aid for 6,000 Rohingyas stranded in the border between the two countries since a military crackdown prompted a mass exodus of the Muslim minority in 2017 sounds absolutely irrational. Myanmar, in talks between the Bangladesh foreign minister and Myanmar’s top diplomatic envoy, Kyaw Tint Swe, in Myanmar’s capital, reportedly called for the aid to be halted. Myanmar on Friday proposed an arrangement for the supply of humanitarian assistance from the Myanmar side. These Rohingyas are now stuck in a narrow no man’s land relying on international aid sent by Bangladesh. If Bangladesh stops supplying international humanitarian assistance to these hapless, stranded people, their life would plunge into uncertainty for they fled their home in the face of Myanmar army’s atrocities against them.
Since August 25, 2017, about 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing. Several international authorities denounced the operations as genocide. Amidst global pressure and protest against the persecution of Rohingya community in Rakhaine State of Myanmar, an ‘Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ was signed on November 23, 2017 between Bangladesh and Myanmar. However, many international bodies termed the ‘arrangement’ a false diplomatic gesture on part of Myanmar, because without ensuring safe environment for return, talks of repatriation are futile. They even termed it an attempt on Myanmar’s part to deflect international pressure. Civil society bodies in Bangladesh too have suggested the same considering the failed history of the repatriation agreements earlier with Myanmar. The Rohingya community from Rakhaine had crossed the border to escape persecution in their homeland since 1980s and even earlier. In past decades, about 4,00,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh. A diplomat in Bangladesh is reported to have said that Myanmar was trying to narrow the scope for the return of the Rohingyas. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Bangladesh government should sit with the Myanmar government again on the issue of 6,000 Rohingyas stranded in the border and inform it of the past failures and false diplomatic gesture of Myanmar. But stopping the supply of international assistance to these stranded Rohingyas would not be a rational and sustainable solution.
Be that as it may, Bangladesh also needs to sit with international organisations and foreign diplomats to organise and step up international pressure on Myanmar for it to create a congenial and healthy atmosphere in Rakhine State so that these 6,000 Rohingyas can go back to their homeland and are reinstated there honourably with citizenship and basic rights.
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