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International community plays foul with Rohingya issue

Rohingya, Myanmar, Bangladesh, ARSA, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, India, Nepal, China, Thailand

Opinion

International community plays foul with Rohingya issue

International community is clearly playing foul with the Rohingya issue. Their attitude is like as if Bangladesh has committed a crime by giving temporary shelter to over 1.20 million Rohingyas from Myanmar. Instead of putting massive pressure of Myanmar’s notorious military junta in immediately taking-back their Rohingya citizen and by not providing required fund Bangladesh needs to provide food, shelter, medical facilities, and other amenities to the massive size of Rohingyas, they have recently adopted a nefarious tactic of rather giving lectures to Bangladesh government.

United States although has described Myanmar’s cruelty towards Rohingyas as genocide, they too are not taking any effective measures in helping Bangladesh in resolving this massive human crisis and getting rid of such a huge burden. Meanwhile, Rohingyas in Bangladesh are getting involved in criminal activities, which include drug, weapons and human trafficking, extortion, robbery and even jihadist activities. A section of Rohingyas are being lured by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for joining this militancy outfit and begin attacks on Myanmar from Rohingya cams inside Bangladesh. Unless this issue is resolved immediately, Rohingyas may finally join ARSA at a large number and involve in terrorist activities. In that case, Rohingya members of ARSA will not only pose serious threat to regional peace, they may even join hands with militancy outfits in India as well as China, which will ultimately become a major security threat to most of the countries in the region, including India, Nepal, China, Thailand and beyond.

Recently during her visit to the United States for attending the United Nations General Assembly, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has termed as a “tragedy” the richer nations’ meaningful response to the crucial climate issue despite their blustering words saying the urgency of the situation was not being matched by actions of countries responsible for emissions.

“They don’t act. They can talk but they don’t act”, she told French news agency AFP adding that those countries were “the responsible ones for these damages”.

The AFP commented that climate is not the only issue on which Bangladesh saw inaction from the West, the Rohingya crisis was another major issue from where the richer countries attention shifted with the outbreak of the COVID-19 outbreak and Ukraine war.

It said some 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017 after a scorched-earth campaign against the minority group by troops in neighboring Myanmar, a campaign that the United States has described as genocide.

The international news agency also noted that while the world has saluted Bangladesh for taking in the refugees — along with 100,000 who fled earlier violence — attention has shifted since the Covid-19 pandemic and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“As long as they are in our country, we feel that it is our duty”, Sheikh Hasina told the interviewer but added that for Bangladeshi hosts, patience was running thin.

AFP also recalled the then UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet had commented on a visit in August this year that there was growing anti-Rohingya sentiment in Bangladesh.

“Local people also suffer a lot . . . I can’t say that they’re angry, but they feel uncomfortable”, the Bangladesh premier said.

“All the burden is coming upon us. This is a problem”.

The Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, live largely in ramshackle camps with tarpaulins, sheet metal and bamboo.

Michelle Bachelet on her visit said there was no prospect of sending them back to Buddhist-majority, military-run Myanmar, where the Rohingya are not considered citizens.

But in her interview, Sheikh Hasina signaled that there were few options other than for the Rohingya to reside in camps.

“It is not possible for us to give them an open space because they have their own country. They want to go back there. So that is the main priority for everybody”, she said adding, “If anybody wants to take them, they can take them”.

Echoing our Prime Minister I would like to say, since Rohingyas are Muslims, it is responsibility of the Muslim nations in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Oman, Morocco etcetera to grant shelter to these Rohingyas on an urgent basis. At the same time, those Western nations should also accept at least 3-4 hundred thousand Rohingyas as refugees. In this case, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas can initiate an immediate effort in touring the Arab world with the plea of giving shelter to Rohingyas on an urgent basis. We need to remember, Bangladesh has been sacrificing hugely just for extending support to Palestinians and until now this is the only reason that Bangladesh does not recognize the State of Israel, despite the fact, Israel has helped Bangladesh during the war of independence and was one first four countries to recognize Bangladesh immediately after the 1971 war of independence. At that time, Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed, one of the conspirators behind the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not accept Israel’s recognition at the advice of his Pakistani masters and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, despite the fact, during our war of independence Arafat was branding our freedom fighters as “terrorists” and terming the war as a “war between Hindus (Bengalis) and Muslims (Pakistanis)”.

Bangladesh no more is an “irrelevant country” in the eyes of international community especially following Sheikh Hasina’s coming to power through a landslide victory in December 2008 general elections. For the sake of our national interest, Bangladesh now needs to reboot its foreign policy and come out of decades-old orthodoxy and taboo. While almost all the Muslim nations either are already having relations with Israel, and while countries like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Pakistan are on the process of normalizing relations with the Jewish State, it is absolutely foolishness on our part to still maintain rigid position on Palestine issue. In my opinion, to Bangladeshi leaders, Palestine should not be placed above the interest of Bangladesh under any circumstance. We need to accept the global realities and move forward with immediate efforts of normalizing relations with the Jewish State. We need to remember, it was because of our wrong diplomacy, we are now suffering from the unbearable burden of Rohingyas. Bangladesh needs powerful allies which would effectively push the international community in resolving this issue.

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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