Bangladesh must resist Myanmar over Rohingya crisis

M Mahfuzur Rahman    

22 September, 2017 11:16 AM

Bangladesh must resist Myanmar over Rohingya crisis

Photo: SK Hasan Ali/ Kalerkantho

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Thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who have been described as one of the world's least wanted minorities and some of the world's most persecuted people, now are arriving in Bangladesh by foot or by boat to flee violence in Myanmar creating huge pressures on Bangladesh to cope with.

Bangladesh is not capable to shelter a large number of refugees from Myanmar as it has limited lands and equipment to face the crisis like this one while the coming Rohingyas are in urgent need of shelter, food, and medical care.

It is needless to say, the situation is severely harmful to Bangladesh’s socio-economic aspect that the country has been facing for the long time as Myanmar army has frequently unleashed one of the most persecuted minorities of our time.

Claiming the Rohingya Muslims are the Bangladeshi nationals, the Myanmar authorities systematically targeting the Rohingya population for their ethnicity and religion and the Rohingya population is denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law. Human Rights Watch in a report stated, the 1982 laws “effectively deny to the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring a nationality.”

If we look back to the distressful history, the Rohingyas have faced military crackdowns in the years of 1978, 1991–1992, 2012, 2015 and 2016–2017 and according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal The Lancet, Rohingya children in Myanmar face low birth weight, malnutrition, diarrhea, and barriers to reproduction on reaching adulthood.

Who are the Rohingyas? In the now Rakhine state of Myanmar, as we find from the history, Muslims have been lived since as early as the 12th century and in accordance with the Human Rights Watch (HRW), during more than 100 years of British rule (1824-1948), there was a significant amount of migration of labourers to what is now known as Myanmar from today's India and Bangladesh. Because the British administered Myanmar as a province of India, such migration was considered internal.

Once the violence erupts in Myanmar, the Rohingyas are stepping to Bangladesh creating huge challenges to our societies but we are frequently observing the Bangladesh authorities can’t handle the situation properly, not even they raise the strong voice against Myanmar to the international level. They only can beg the international communities to assist fled Rohingyas. It is really sorrow for the nation.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people are living in Bangladesh since a long time but according to Wikipedia, steps to repatriate Rohingya refugees began in 2005. In 2009, the government of Bangladesh announced that it will repatriate around 9,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps inside the country back to Myanmar, after a meeting with Burmese diplomats. On 16 October 2011, the new government of Myanmar agreed to take back registered Rohingya refugees. 

However, Rakhine State riots in 2012 hampered the repatriation efforts and it failed to repatriate them and the government has been in silence until the last violence erupted there on August 25, 2017.

The well-known political figure and the Nobel Peace Prize winner of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, who fought for the rights of people there, frequently denied the ethnic cleansing, persecution and atrocities against Rohingya Muslims while there are more than one million Rohingya living in Myanmar and they have been discriminated for decades and Myanmar authorities continue torture on them and forcing Rohingya residents to leave their villages while they refused to leave their homes, they kill them indiscriminately.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government, however, gained international admiration for sheltering the Rohingya Muslims and responding to their traumatic situation as they fled to Bangladesh with empty handed.

But being a small and underdeveloped country in South Asia, first of all, Bangladesh has to understand how to cope with the situation of burden hundreds of thousands of people here.

According to Amnesty International, since the 25th August, around 412,000 people have fled Myanmar to nearby Bangladesh, making this the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. 80 percent of those fleeing are women and children, and many are badly injured.

Historically, Myanmar is bound to take back their citizens and to resolve the crisis, Bangladesh must create huge pressure on them in both nationally and internationally and greater diplomatic communications are needed for resolve the crisis.

Myanmar, of course, is one step ahead of Bangladesh in terms of gaining support over the crisis from its neighboring countries like India and China, the greatest powers in the South Asia but I think Bangladesh showed their failures as they can’t able to handle the situation diplomatically for their poor diplomatic efforts.

UK, Turkey, and Malaysia, have great roles to pressurize Myanmar over the crisis. And it praiseworthy that UK has suspended a military training being given to the Myanmar army while one of the largest UK trade union withdrawn an award given to San Suu Kyi. Many people of the world also suggested revoking the Nobel peace prize San Suu Kyi.

Keeping ties with other world powers, Bangladesh needs strong support from India, China, and other neighboring countries but the world’s largest nation, Russia and East Asian nation China have already offered their support for Myanmar. 

It has negative impacts for Bangladesh and as well as in the region. So Bangladesh has to create strong international pressures on Myanmar for repatriation of their citizens soon.

The writer is a Sub-Editor of The Daily Kaler Kantho (English Version) and he can be reached at mahfuzjnu21@yahoo.com.