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Update: 12 June, 2019 13:18 PM
PM\'s shuttle diplomacy in resolving Rohingya crisis

PM\'s shuttle diplomacy in resolving Rohingya crisis

Bangladesh has given refuge to nearly 1.1 million Rohingyas which undoubtedly remains a heavy burden on the country. The presence of the refugees has imposed a heavy financial burden on the Bangladeshi government. 

And the government, as well as the local people, are in a grave concern as Rohingyas who have been in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong for the past couple of decades has emerged a new class of threat for the peaceful existence of the locals. 

The minority community people, who fled Myanmar in the face of persecution and have taken refuge in the country in recent decades, have already created a social crisis for the country. They have involved themselves with criminal activities like drug and arms smuggling. The law and order situation in and around the Rohingya camps deteriorated and a vested quarter is using the situation as a weapon against us. Some local and foreign NGOs are also cashing in on the situation. 

The locals are trying to be hospitable, but the impact of the enormous influx is weighing heavily on their daily life. They have serious concerns over how all these extra people will impact their future economy. 

Bangladesh's government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave shelter to the Rohingya people on humanitarian ground.  But, the current unprecedented influx of Rohingya is pressuring the Bangladeshi government to find a solution. 

On the other hand, despite several attempts from the Bangladesh government, Myanmar authorities have employed delaying tactics to evade its responsibility to take back the Rohingyas.

But, why are they doing so? Are Rohingyas not the citizens of that country?  According to history,  the name Rohingya originates from Rohang, the names given to those who lived in the Arakan region during the ninth and tenth centuries. So, the Rohingya Muslims are staying in Rakhine for hundreds of years. In Buddhist-dominated Myanmar where 88% of the population is Buddhist with Muslims comprising a mere 4.3%, the Rohingyas have suffered a history of abuse. And since World War II, they have been fighting for recognition as a distinct ethnic group. However, they were not included in Myanmar citizenship law in 1982, and thus become stateless. And they continue to suffer persecution, including forced labour, confiscation of property, rape and other forms of violence.

The latest Rohingya persecution has been condemned worldwide. Not only the United Nations but also the major powers of the globe, including the US and the UK, declared the persecution of Rohingya people as genocide. The international rights bodies have sought justice for the Rohingyas. 

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent decades under house arrest before becoming Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader in 2016, refused to take a humanitarian stand on the Rohingya issue. People all over the world were people in the shock as Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was silent on the issue. They demanded that she should be stripped of her Nobel Prize for Peace. Besides, many countries and organizations have already stripped off her different titles and awards.

Ignored for decades, the violence on the Rohingya minority for the first time prompted the United Nations to give serious thought to the issue. The EU, USA and Australian authorities have slapped sanctions on the top Myanmar army officers for their involvement in crimes against humanity in Rakhine.

Despite all the efforts, the Myanmar authorities are keeping complete silence in taking back the Rohingya people only because of China which has defended Myanmar’s action against the minority in the name of controlling insurgents. But, why are they doing so? The reason is clear to all. China has decided to build a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Rakhine State and for this, they must evacuate the locals from their lands. To entice China in the SEZ, land grabbing has been taking place, leading to the eviction of small landholders. In order to boost economic growth in Myanmar, the forced displacement of Rohingyas is a mechanism to create trading networks with China and other interested partners. 

However, the Bangladesh government and our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have been intensifying diplomatic effort to repatriate Rohingyas. She has already placed the issue before several global bodies, including the UN and sought their assistance in this regard. Rohingya crisis has been one of her top agendas in meetings with the global leaders during her official visits to other countries. 

Being the longest serving prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has successfully developed a healthy bilateral and personal relationship with several powerful and influential heads of states. And, we all have witnessed that personal relationship between leaders' cast impacts on their bilateral relationship.

Our prime minister has cash in on her personal relationship with Indian leaders in resolving many bilateral issues. She managed to resolve some of the long-standing multi-faceted disputes between Bangladesh and India. The dispute over land and maritime boundaries remained one such unsettled issue that the leaders of both countries wanted to settle. More than six decades after the partition and four decades after the independence of Bangladesh, the two countries had signed the border maps to officially recognise their international boundary putting an end to the lingering dispute over the issue.

Being the daughter of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, she undoubtedly gets special attention all over the world which has been a great achievement so far. Bangladesh has got recognization as an independent country from all other countries within a short time only because of Bangabandhu. It was not an easy job to get recognization from Saudi Arabia-China-Pakistan political belt in 1972, just one year after the Independence. These three countries were always against the independent existence of Bangladesh but they were not successful due to Bangabandhu's global image and exposure.

During her recent visit to Japan, Sheikh Hasina discussed the Rohingya issue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and requested his intervention in this regard. Soon after she left Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe created diplomatic pressure on Myanmar over taking back Rohingyas.

Our prime minister has already placed the issue before the Muslim community leaders during the 14th session of the OIC's Islamic Summit in Makkah. Experts think that OIC can play a vital role in this regard. 

The PM is set to visit China next month and she will also discuss the Rohingya issue with her Chinese counterpart. She knows that China can play the biggest role in the issue. Rohingya crises could easily be resolved if China put pressure on Myanmar. 

Although China has invested a large amount of money in Myanmar and the country will consider the matter while negotiating with Myanmar over the Rohingya issue. But, China must think that the country had invested a mentionable amount of money in Bangladesh as well. Besides, our prime minister has successfully developed a healthy relationship with China and I personally believe that the country will be on our side if our PM requests her Chinese counterpart.

We also seek India's cooperation in this connection. PM Hasina has hinted a possible meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in a short time. No matter, where the meeting takes place, the Rohingya issue must be the main agenda of the meeting. 

PM Hasina will successfully resolve the issue by using her personal and family reputation, I believe. And I do believe that she will do anything to take out Bangladesh from the crises.

[Writer: Kalerkantho Executive Editor Mostofa Kamal]

সম্পাদক : ইমদাদুল হক মিলন,
নির্বাহী সম্পাদক : মোস্তফা কামাল,
ইস্ট ওয়েস্ট মিডিয়া গ্রুপ লিমিটেডের পক্ষে ময়নাল হোসেন চৌধুরী কর্তৃক প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বসুন্ধরা, বারিধারা থেকে প্রকাশিত এবং প্লট-সি/৫২, ব্লক-কে, বসুন্ধরা, খিলক্ষেত, বাড্ডা, ঢাকা-১২২৯ থেকে মুদ্রিত।
বার্তা ও সম্পাদকীয় বিভাগ : বসুন্ধরা আবাসিক এলাকা, প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বারিধারা, ঢাকা-১২২৯। পিএবিএক্স : ০২৮৪০২৩৭২-৭৫, ফ্যাক্স : ৮৪০২৩৬৮-৯, বিজ্ঞাপন ফোন : ৮১৫৮০১২, ৮৪০২০৪৮, বিজ্ঞাপন ফ্যাক্স : ৮১৫৮৮৬২, ৮৪০২০৪৭। E-mail : [email protected]