It appears that the international community has finally started to move on addressing the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and the refugees who crossed to Bangladesh. The questions are whether it will bear any fruits and whether the help will come soon enough for millions inside and outside Myanmar.
More than 123,000 Rohingyas from the Rakhaine state has crossed the border to Bangladesh in the face of security operation of the Myanmar Army sine 25 August. Attacks on police and military posts by ARSA prompted the operation. The response of the government is not only disproportionate but described as ‘genocide’ by many. The simmering conflict since last October has now turned into a catastrophe. The conflict can be traced back to decades of discrimination and persecution of the Rohingyas by the Myanmar regimes and growing radical Buddhist nationalism in the country. These have contributed to the radicalization of Rohingya movement.
Indonesia has proposed a 4+1 formula. These four elements consist of (i) restoring stability and security; (ii) maximum restraint and non-violence; (iii) protection to all persons in the Rakhine State, regardless of race and religion; and (iv) the importance of immediate access to humanitarian assistance. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has placed the proposal to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Tuesday with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. As current head of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, Erdogan had discussed the violence with around 20 world leaders. Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Professor Muhammed Yunus has sent an urgent letter to the UN Secretary General urging immediate actions. Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yusufzai has also criticized Suu Kyi for her silence on this humanitarian crisis. Various Human Rights organizations have already called upon the Myanmar government to stop the attacks on Rohingyas and find a political solution in light of the Annan Commission Report.
While there has been some international efforts to stop the Myanmar regime perpetrating a genocide, Indian PM Narendra Modi is visiting Myanmar and expected to reiterate his government’s unqualified support to the Myanmar government’s actions. India has threatened to deport 40,000 Rohingya refugees.
The government of Bangladesh, the country which is bearing the burden of this growing number of refugees, is yet to take the leadership in the diplomatic efforts to address the situation. This is confounding, to say the least. The government, surprisingly offered the Myanmar government of conducting joint military operations on the border of the two countries. The scale and scope of the crisis warranted a leadership from Bangladesh in mobilizing international community. The least the country should have done was to send a special envoy to the capitals of the region and elsewhere making it clear that urgent humanitarian efforts are needed, that humanitarian effort is not the only thing the international community should do and that an immediate political solution is the only way to stem the tide of the refugees and bring peace to the Rakhaine state.
I was expecting a Bangladesh envoy traveling to Jakarta not the Indonesian Foreign Minister visiting Dhaka to discuss the issue. There is still time for Dhaka to step up and put pressure on international community to act and act fast to save lives of hundreds and thousands.
(First posted in author’s own facebook timeline)
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