The international community should have applied massive pressure on Myanmar by imposing sanctions for Naypyitaw’s dilly-dally in resolving the Rohingya crisis.
In 2017, due to massive violence and genocide committed by the Myanmar army with the help of radical Buddhist populace, hundreds and thousands of Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh thus creating a massive refugee crisis. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, being sympathetic to the repressed and persecuted Rohingyas has ordered to open country’s borders with neighbouring Myanmar. Later, under her leadership, Bangladesh made all-out efforts in getting international support in resolving the crisis. But, until now, there are no such actions initiated by the international community except mere lip-service.
On the Rohingya crisis, unfortunately, China and India are clearly standing behind Myanmar, which has possibly forced Bangladesh government is reaching into a controversial arrangement with Myanmar. Diplomatic analysts are seeing this written arrangement are suicidal, as the terms are ambiguous and impractical as Dhaka is insisting repatriation of the refugees within 24 months.
After playing dilly-dally with Bangladesh for over two years and fooling the international community with its false promise of taking back over one million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, Myanmar has now resorted to its nefarious agenda of making its Rakhine state totally Rohingya free – more precisely – Muslim free.
In January 2018, Myanmar agreed to take back 1,500 Rohingya each week adding that it aimed to return all of the over one million to Myanmar within two years. At that time, Bangladesh side said, it aimed to repatriate families together, as well as orphans and children born out of unwarranted incidence – meaning children conceived as a result of rape by the Myanmar military and Buddhists.
On January 16, 2018, Myanmar’s foreign secretary U Myint Thu told BBC Burmese, “The repatriation process will commence on 23 January”.
He said three more transit camps were “under construction”, and there were plans to “build new villages”.
Rakhine’s state secretary, U Tin Maung Swe, told BBC Burmese: “The houses are not yet built. We plan to build them under a cash-for-work project. We will give them both money and jobs. The returnees will build their homes by themselves”.
It may be mentioned here that, the Rohingya crisis has been described as ethnic cleansing by the United Nations and the United States. Despite widespread accusations of human rights violations, Myanmar has consistently denied persecuting its Rohingya minority.
Myanmar army’s admission of committing crime against humanity
According to reports in the international media, in January 2018, Myanmar army had on document admitted saying its soldiers were involved in unlawfully killing Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. However, it did not admit the cases of mass rape of Rohingya girls and women [even minor children] by the members of the Myanmar army.
International media saw this as a rare admission of crime against humanity committed by the Myanmar military. In November 2017, the military exonerated itself of blame in the violence and flat out denied unlawfully killing any Rohingya people, burning villages, raping girl and women and robbing-off possessions.
Shall Suu Kyi and Myanmar military officials face genocide charges?
In December 2017, United Nations high commission Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for an international criminal investigation into the perpetrators of genocide in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces Gen Aung Min Hlaing.
That said, genocide is one of those words that gets bandied about a lot. It sounds terrible – the so-called “crime of crimes”. Very few people have ever been convicted of it.
The crime was defined after the Holocaust. Member countries of the newly founded United Nations signed a convention, defining genocide as acts committed with intent to destroy a particular group.
Human rights experts said, for the crime of being the abettors to the genocide on the Rohingyas, Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces Gen Aung Min Hlaing should definitely be tried in the international criminal court.
They said, Bangladesh already has shown the highest level of tolerance on this issue and there is really no further scope for Dhaka to unnecessarily wait for any actions from Myanmar on the issue of taking back the Rohingya refugees.
India joins pro-Myanmar propaganda
In the recent months, members of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological allies such as Rashtriya Syamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena (SS) have started propaganda branding Rohingyas as “Bengalis from Bangladesh”. In some international media, these groups even are denouncing the sovereignty of Bangladesh by demanding annexation of the country by India while others are indicating expulsion of over four million Bangla-speaking Indian Muslims into Bangladesh. One of the RSS sources claimed Indian Prime Minister may begin the process of “sending the illegal Bengali migrants” back to Bangladesh by the year-end.
On various groups in the social media, particularly Facebook, Indians are branding the Rohingyas as jihadists and are even going further by saying “those who will support the Rohingyas are also jihadist cohorts”.
An intelligence source indicated saying Indian authorities are going to refrain from siding with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue as it too is actively considering pushing over four million Bengali speaking Muslims into Bangladesh.
The source said, expelling those “illegal migrants” from India is a part of the electoral pledge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and this time he may move ahead with it as his anti-Muslim notion has mainly played a key role behind BJP’s landslide victory in the recent-past general election.
Is Modi going to show ungratefulness to Bangladesh?
It is well-documented that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government has wholeheartedly helped India in combat and dismantling separatist groups such as United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Without Sheikh Hasina’s help, India would not be able to resolve this massive crisis. Moreover, Bangladesh has helped India in various forms, including letting it use the Bangladeshi land, sea and river route in transporting goods into the northeastern states in India.
In return of such huge gesture and goodwill, Narendra Modi and his predecessors have not reciprocated anything saves mere lip service. According to political analysts, to Narendra Modi, his friendship with Bangladesh is of lesser importance than his and his party’s political future. They know, by repressing Muslims they can get much bigger support from the majority Hindus. For this reason, Modi’s party comrades have been preaching radical Hindutva in the country ever since BJP formed the government in 2014.
Narendra Modi clearly has betrayed with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue and even did not feel repented for this. Now he is possibly going to repeat the same betrayal by pushing over four million Bengali-speaking Muslims into Bangladesh by falsely branding them as Bangladeshis.
Shall Beijing shift from its Rohingya policy?
Although there is not much hope of China siding Bangladesh or at least playing a neutral role in resolving the Rohingya crisis by putting some extent of pressure on Myanmar, political analysts are seeing a possibility of Beijing’s real role this time, especially following Sheikh Hasina’s China trip, which would resolve the crisis. Moreover, strategists in Beijing already are seeing the growing India-Myanmar relations as a bad sign as such romance would ultimately reduce China’s influence on Myanmar.