The Rohingya crisis seems to be deepened further. The problem may turn bad to worse if it continues for long and Rohingya citizens of the Rakhine states are not allowed to go back to their country. The United Nations (UN) and almost all the important leaders of the globe supported return of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh that gave shelter to them on humanitarian ground. Nearly two years have passed. Over 1.1 million Rohingyas have been sheltered in the makeshift built in three upazilas of Cox’s Bazar. They were driven out of their country forcibly due to rape, killing, arson and repression committed by the Myanmar military junta. They were compelled to leave their own country just to save their lives. They crossed the borders in thousands in 21 days and number reached to over 1.1 million. The local people were really sympathized to them. They gave shelter to these hapless people even at the cost of their own suffering. The government of Bangladesh did everything for them. Relief materials reached there from every corner to feed the Rohingyas. The government and the people are doing as much as possible for them. Their children have been taken special care. Even there is arrangement for their education and health service. The UN has come up with all possible help. Many world leaders, the noble laureate, dignitaries and civil society leaders from different countries visited the Rohingyas and called upon the international community to convince and put pressure on Myanmar government to take back Rohingyas. The UN adopted resolutions relating to their return. The Security Council also sat to resolve the issue but nothing tangible came out till today due to the obstinacy of the Myanmar government who strongly consider the Rohingyas as outsiders.
The second attempt on 22 August to start repatriation of Rohingyas has also failed as no refugees want to go back as long as their demands including ensuring citizenship and security of Rohngyas, giving back their land and properties, protecting all fundamental rights of Rohingyas Rakhaine state are not met.
Myanmar agreed to take 3,450 Rohingyas from a list of 22,000 plus Rohingyas sent by Bangladesh. Bangladesh also provided the approved list to the UNHCR in Dhaka and sought its assistance in assessing their willingness to return to Myanmar.
The return of Rohingyas was rescheduled for 22 August. Some United Nations officials have been trying to convince the Rohingyas to go back to their country. But the Rohingyas are not willing to go back reiterating their demand of ensuring safety and security by the Myanmar government.
In reality demands of the Rohingyas may be almost all right. And it is the responsibility of the Myanmar government to ensure such kind of security and safety for them. No outsiders other than the Myanmar government could do that. In such an ugly situation, the Rohingyas have to return to their own country. It is through the intervention of the United Nations and international community that could ensure their safety and security and getting back their land and properties. The United Nations representatives should be there to see how they are being treated after their return. The attention of the globe should be there. They should convince Myanmar government to take some steps in line with the demands of the Rohingyas. Bangladesh cannot give such security. Only the United Nations can ensure that. The Rohingyas should not forget how they were evicted and kind of repression committed by the Myanmar government.
It is Myanmar which created problems by driving out Rohingyas from their homeland. Bangladesh has given them shelter on humanitarian ground. But hosting of 1.1 million Rohingyas for the country is a big challenge. It has emerged as environmental and security challenges and trafficking problem in particular. The peace and stability in the South Asia may be disturbed if the Rohingyas are not repatriated immediately. Any further deterioration in the Rakhine zone might be the cause of destabilization in the region. The UN and other countries should put pressure on Myanmar to implement the agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar for repatriation of the Rohingyas. It’s very unfortunate that Myanmar has not taken any measure that might ensure safety and security of the Rohingyas.
Our Prime Minister has been doing everything possible for them. She has also been trying to solve the issues diplomatically. She visited China in July to discuss the Rohingya issue along with many others issues of mutual interest. The Bangladesh Prime Minister held series of meetings with Chinese high ups. The talks between PM and Chinese dignitaries were held in a very cordial atmosphere and Bangladesh PM called upon the Chinese authorities into Bangladesh to discuss the more areas of cooperation and the response from Chinese side is positive.
Sheikh Hasina felt that the role of China is more important than any other country to resolve the Rohingya issue as Myanmar is their next door neighbor and China has huge investment in that country. So Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the Rohingya issue with utmost importance with her Chinese counterpart. During meeting between Bangladesh Prime Minster and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that there should be quick solution to the Rohingya crisis so that the displaced people can go back to their homeland soon. It is also noticeable that Bangladesh did never undermine the role of China in respect of Rohingya crisis for a peaceful solution. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did always expect China to play its due role to bring an end to the crisis. She has just repeated the request since China is a common friend of Myanmar and Bangladesh. China has got strategic interest in the area, it may take sometimes but Chinese leadership will do the needful to start repatriation of 1.1 million Rohingyas immediately to Myanmar from Bangladesh. It is really amazing that the kind of patience that Bangladesh has demonstrated already seeking a solution through UN and the countries like India, China as they are very close to Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The government should find out whether any provocation is there to advice the Rohingyas for not going back to Myanmar. It is reported that some NGO’s with ill-motive had been inducing Rohingyas not to back to their countries. The NGO Affairs Bureau has already taken action against 41 such NGOs for their alleged `controversial’ activities over there. It is also learnt that some quarters and few NGOs induced by some unfriendly countries have been trying to fish in the trouble water. They wanted to prolong the issue. The kind of advice that they are giving to the Rohingyas is certainly detrimental to the interest of peace in the region. Their purpose is to create a problem for Bangladesh, Myanman, India and China. It is therefore necessary to find out a solution for resolving the Rohingya crisis as early as possible.
In such a situation Sheikh Hasina has to continue its diplomatic efforts and seek China’s help to find out a solution and ensure quick return of the Rohingyas to their homeland. It is desirable that China should find a meaningful solution to the problem and convince Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas to their homeland.
The foreign policy of Bangladesh is: `Friendship to all, malice towards none’ has been strictly followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wanted to pursue the policy of peaceful cooperation with its neighbor and resolve the crisis through bilateral discussion. The same policy is still holds good.
Dr S A Malek is the former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist