Looking Back 2019

No solution to Rohingya crisis in sight despite Bangladesh effort

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:40, Dec 29,2019 | Updated: 17:13, Dec 31,2019


No solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis is likely soon despite efforts by the Bangladesh government in bilateral and multilateral platforms as Myanmar is loath to create an atmosphere conducive to the repatriation of the people of the community from the makeshift shelters in Cox’s Bazar, experts at home and abroad believe.

Some influential countries, including China and Japan, were, on the other hand, found extending solidarity to Myanmar that drew censure in the international arena for atrocity crimes committed by its military against Rohingya people in Rakhine.

Japan carried some fresh air for Myanmar as its ambassador in Yangon, Ichiro Maruyama, reportedly said that his government believed that no genocide was committed in Rakhine.

‘I don’t think that the Myanmar Tatmadaw [military] committed genocide or [had the] intent of genocide. I also don’t think that they have intention to kill all the Muslim residents in Rakhine,’ he said on December 26 as Myanmar, as a country, was facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice, according to Yangon-based irrawaddy.com.

The bilateral moves for repatriation of Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Myanmar ‘are in logjam,’ Bangladesh Enterprise Institute acting president Humayun Kabir told New Age on December 28, ‘as Myanmar could not convince a single Rohingya people to go back to Rakhine.’

 ‘Gallery play hardly works in the international judicial systems,’ Humayun Kabir said as his attention was drawn to a statement made by the Japanese ambassador in Myanmar.

The International Court  of Justice and the International Criminal Court ‘are expected to see things from law points’ whether there was an occurrence of genocide or anything done with an intent of genocide by the Myanmar authorities, said Kabir, also a retired Bangladesh diplomat.

Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi met top Myanmar leadership, including de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint and commander-in-chief senior general Min Aung Hlaing on December 8 several hours before Suu Kyi left Yangon the same day for facing genocide charges on her own at The Hague-based ICJ.

Wang Yi, a proponent of a tripartite move involving his Bangladesh and Myanmar counterparts for Rohingya repatriation, said that China would stand firmly with Myanmar, according to irrawaddy.com. 

China, its close international ally Russia and India, another next-door neighbour to Bangladesh, were toeing the line pursued by Myanmar portraying the Rohingya crisis as a ‘bilateral’ and ‘economic’ issue.

Wang said on December 8 that China was opposed to international involvement in ‘bilateral’ and ‘domestic’ affairs.

China and eight other countries voted against adopting a resolution at the UN General Assembly on December 27 condemning the human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, according to diplomatic sources in New York.

A total of 134 countries supported the approval of the resolution seeking Myanmar to ensure justice for all violations of human rights, while 28 abstained from the vote, according to bbc.com.

The UNGA resolution, which was the third in last two years since August 2017, expressed alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya people into Bangladesh over the past four decades in the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar which an independent international mission launched by the UN described as ‘the gravest crimes under international law’.

The UN ambassador to Myanmar Hau Do Suan, however, called the resolution ‘another classic example of double-standards [and] selective and discriminatory application of human rights norms,’ and said it was designed to exert ‘unwanted political pressure’ on Myanmar but did not attempt to find a solution to the complex situation in Rakhine state.

Bangladesh diplomats, however, believe that the international community must take guardianship on implementation of the bilateral mechanisms set with Myanmar for ensuring sustainable repatriation of Rohingya people to Rakhine state.

The Bangladesh authorities were extending support to the UN and international systems, including the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court, on ensuring accountability of the Myanmar people who have been engaged in atrocity crimes, including genocide and ethnic cleansing, against Rohingyas in Rakhine.

‘Accountability must be ensured to prevent repetition of influx into Bangladesh in future,’ a senior foreign ministry official told New Age, describing the Rohingya crisis as ‘a ticking time-bomb together with menace of drug promoted by sections of Myanmar military officials from the Rakhine state’.

Bangladesh security forces often recover hundreds of thousands of pieces of contraband Yaba tablets which are smuggled into Bangladesh from Myanmar.  

Some international authorities, including sections of UN officials, were, however, stressing the need that the Bangladesh government should pursue a long-term plan for extending educational and livelihood opportunities for the displaced Rohingya people and the host communities instead of remaining stuck from seeing the crisis from security perspectives.

Humayun Kabir of the BEI stressed the need that the government and the international community ‘must overcome the stalemate on Rohingya crisis with intensifying both bilateral and multilateral tracts for a qualitative breakthrough’ expected to be created through decisions of the ICJ.

‘It is important to prove at the ICJ that there was intent of genocide in the military crackdown in Rakhine,’ he added.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, have entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during the security ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine beginning from August 25, 2017, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide,.

The on-going Rohingya influx has taken the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees from that country in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

Not a single Rohingya person has returned to Rakhine after Bangladesh and Myanmar took two attempts since the two countries signed three agreements, in last two years, for facilitating the repatriation of those who have crossed over to Bangladesh since October 2016.

The Rohingya people are unwilling to go back to Rakhine without guarantee of Myanmar citizenship, confirmation of their ethnic identity and assurance of safety, security and human rights under international supervision.

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