Taking initiatives for resolving Rohingya crisis

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 16 Aug 2017, 20:26:12

Taking initiatives for resolving Rohingya crisis

Mohammad Amjad Hossain
Myanmar has long been persecuting Rohingya Muslims. They have been rendered stateless. 

Myanmar is a member of the United Nations (UN). Its leader U Thant was the third Secretary-General of the world body until 1971. The term 'human rights' has been mentioned seven times in the UN charter while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became an international law in 1948.  The world body should take initiatives to settle the stateless Rohingyas in their ancestral homes in Rakhine state. 

Since independence in 1948, Burma, now Myanmar, has been challenged by ethnic rebels. Ethnic tension was heightened in 1961 when President U Nu tried to make Buddhism a state religion. His move backfired as it triggered revolt by all ethnic groups to secede from the Union of Burma. Some areas along the borders of China and Thailand are still controlled by armed ethnic groups---the United WA State Army and the Kachin Independence Army. Rakhine state is not free from armed ethnic groups either. The Arakan Army has been fighting against Myanmar's armed forces along Bangladesh-Myanmar border to achieve independence from Myanmar. 

Historically, Arakan state was independent of Burma until 1784 when ultranationalist Burmans invaded Arakan but it went under the British occupation from 1826 to 1948. 

 Rohingyas, Rakhines and all other ethnic groups in Arakan had been living in peace side by side since the 7th century. That Muslims were settlers in Arakan from the seventh century is evident from Badr Moqam mosque in Akyab. 

Myanmar's armed forces, Tatmadaw, is a powerful institution in the country. Since 2012, bigoted Buddhist monks and armed forces have been persecuting the minority Muslim communities and forcing hundreds of thousands of them to flee from Rakhine state to neighbouring countries. There is a plenty of evidences provided by different human rights watchdogs about atrocities and burning of Rohingya Muslims. In late November of 2016, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights said abuses perpetrated against Rohingyas by the Myanmar  military may amount to crimes against humanity. 

The Myanmar government formed a 13-member investigation commission on December 09 last for probing the background of the October 19, 2016 attacks on police stations and also November 12 and 13 incidents in Maungdaw. In the latter incidents, over a thousand Rohingya houses were destroyed, villagers were killed and Rohingya women raped by soldiers, alleged human rights groups. But the 13-member fact-finding committee, headed by Vice-President retired Gen.Myint Swe, in its report on August 06, 2017 denied allegations of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing while accusing the UN of making exaggerated claim. 

According to a report by BBC on December 13 in 2016, Human Rights Watch Asian Director Brad Adams said around 300 houses belonging to Rohingyas were burned down in WA Peik village in Rakhine state in presence of Myanmar's security forces. The destruction of these villages was caught by satellite images. Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Nobel laureate for peace Aung San Suu Kyi, denied visa to a fact-finding mission established by the UN Human Rights Council on March 24 this year to investigate into human rights abuses in Myanmar. 

As of now, Myanmar's military has been avoiding any accountability for its widespread and serious abuses of human rights. The UN and the Association of South-East Nations (ASEAN) should jointly take measures to persuade Myanmar's regime to bring back Rohingyas to their hearths and homes with compensation as well. Myanmar is a member of the Association of South-East Nations (ASEAN), the basic principle of which is promotion of regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of UN Charter, apart from regional cooperation in economic, social, cultural, technical and education and other fields.  

 Dr. Yusef bin Ahmed Al- Othaimeen, Secretary-General of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, saw the conditions of Rohingya refugees in two camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on August 05 and discussed humanitarian issue with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The OIC should also exert its pressure on the United Nations to resolve humanitarian crisis by restoring citizenship to Rohingyas and re-settle them in their homes. 

As a close-door neighbour, Bangladesh should use diplomacy, in collaboration with China, another neighbour of Myanmar, to initiate a joint move through the UN for resolving the Rohingya crisis. 

The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.  


Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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