As the battle between the Myanmar Military and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine has worsened and regrettably reached the Bangladesh-Myanmar border as well, uncertainty regarding the repatriation of Rohingyas may likely to endure.
But the hope aroused as Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr AK Abdul Momen has said very recently that Myanmar’s military ruler has conveyed will to honour all the previous deals signed between Dhaka and Naypyitaw to commence Rohingya repatriation.
A deal between Bangladesh and Myanmar was signed in November, 2017 to allow the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter in the border town of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh following a brutal military crackdown in August of that same year. However, no Rohingya had been returned in their homeland yet in the preceding last five years.
The treatment of the Rohingya minority, which is frequently referred to as the most persecuted minority in the world, has emerged as Myanmar’s most contentious human rights issue. It is regrettable that other minorities of Myanmar’s own belonged citizens, are also being subjected to severe persecution and human rights violations by the Junta ruler now a days.
The piercing sound of air raids, mortar shelling, and gunfire on the southern border between Bangladesh and Myanmar not only violates territorial integrity and sovereignty but also creates a gloomy picture of an uncertain future for the people of Myanmar. The sound of gunshots also serves as a metaphor for the Myanmar Junta’s struggles and failures in establishing control over its national territory. According to experts, the present violence in Myanmar has all the characteristics of a civil war. A growing unrest against the military administration is evidenced by the current trend of increased fighting and violence in Myanmar. The already waning public support for the Junta has been weakened by this indiscriminate brutality against the civilian population of the country, increasing the risk of civil war in the nation as more individuals take up arms against the military.
However, the military authority must not exploit the internal crisis as a pretext or a cunning strategy to stop Rohingyas from returning home as they have done several times previously. The first group of 2,260 Rohingyas was scheduled to return home in mid-November after several conversations (2018). The UN Refugee Agency discovered that they were unwilling to volunteer to return because any tension situation in Myanmar makes them feel insecure. But how long can Bangladesh support 1.1 million Rohingyas, especially in the midst of a global crisis where it must contend with a host of additional economic and environmental crisis?
At the ASEAN Leaders Meeting (ALM) in Jakarta in April of last year, the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus on resolving the Myanmar problem had been adopted. The sides reached an agreement to engage in talks and put an immediate stop to the bloodshed in the nation. But according to Human Rights Watch, Myanmar’s junta has spent the last year executing crimes in complete contempt of its agreements with ASEAN.
Bangladesh has been dealing with such delay drama since the 2017 mass exodus of Rohingya. Myanmar is delaying the return of Rohingyas by holding repeated meetings, imposing numerous conditions, and especially by using various internal crises as a justification. The reckless act of disregarding international border norms and the blame game of the military ruler for militant groups in Myanmar have created a worrying situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, especially in the minds of Rohingyas and local Bangladeshis who fear that repatriation may drag on again.
After a meeting with diplomats stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s acting foreign minister noted the current border tension and said, “We told them [the diplomats] that we seek your help so that Myanmar cannot take advantage by destabilizing the border situation and refrain from taking back the Rohingyas.”
Unfortunately, international pressure was not enough to force Myanmar to make peace, to stop brutality against its own citizens, and to repatriate Rohingyas by establishing safe and hospitable conditions in Rakhine. It is past time for the junta ruler to come under intense international pressure to stop violating his own people’s human rights.
Injustice anywhere must be stopped. It is much expected that the junta regime would come to understand that the majority of the people in Myanmar are now a days deeply saddened by such a barbaric act of brutality against own people and that, it will respect the citizenship status of the Rohingya minorities by immediately repatriating them. The international community must exert strong pressure on Myanmar to persuade the junta to enforce law and order, prevent rights violations against its own citizens including Rohingya, preserve international norms and thus uphold human rights.
Manowar Morshed, Human Right Activist, Dhaka, Bangladesh