ISSN 2330-717X

Refugee Crises Increasing: Remember Rohingyas, Afghans, And Also Ukrainians – OpEd

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The Rohingya and Afghan refugee issues are also currently important international issues. More than 1.1 million Rohingyas have taken refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017 due to genocide and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. About 50,000 newborn Rohingya children are added to it every year. Earlier, the Rohingya had been subjected to systematic discrimination, deprivation of the right to vote, and regular targeting of violence in Myanmar for decades.

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In the last four and a half years, despite various initiatives, no real progress has been made in resolving the Rohingya crisis. Under pressure from the international community, the Myanmar government signed an agreement on Rohingya repatriation, but to no avail. According to the agreement, the Rohingyas were to be repatriated in stages. The repatriation process has not started for a long time. The Myanmar government has failed to repatriate the displaced Rohingya and resolve the crisis. Bangladesh has repeatedly urged various international forums to take effective steps to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

The proposal is based on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in the context of the state of emergency in Myanmar. Top politicians were arrested after a military coup overthrew a democratic government in the country on February 1 and declared a state of emergency. Political unrest, protests and clashes are going on in the country. Thousands of people have lost their lives in the repression of the army. Whatever the context, the unanimous resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly is very important for Bangladesh. 108 countries have supported it. The proposal calls for finding out the root cause of the Rohingya problem. The resolution, with a number of guidelines for the introduction of democratic governance, called on all human rights organizations, including the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, to cooperate.

A resolution presented by the OIC and the EU on the protection of the Rohingya was unanimously adopted by the United Nations in 2021. Observers say the UN recognition is a reflection of the international community’s strong commitment to resolving the crisis. In addition to the EU and OIC, the resolution is supported and co-sponsored by a large number of countries in various geographical regions, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, and South Korea.

The world community has been expressing solidarity with Bangladesh for the shelter of Rohingyas for humanitarian reasons and urging for repatriation of Rohingyas. Myanmar authorities have agreed to repatriate Rohingya in the face of international pressure. They did not take back the Rohingyas even after two rounds of time. In this situation, as part of regular diplomacy, Bangladesh has raised the issue of the Rohingya crisis in various forums of the world, but everyone is listening quietly, no response or action is seen. Citizens of neighboring Myanmar have been given asylum in Bangladesh for humanitarian reasons. The extra responsibility of this huge number of people is definitely a big burden for Bangladesh. The frustration of the Rohingya is intensifying due to the lack of progress on repatriation, which is creating various security concerns and instability in the region.

The International Criminal Court (ICJ) continued hearing the case of genocide against the Rohingya people in Myanmar from February 21 to February 28. According to Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center, the hearing is a crucial step in bringing justice to Myanmar’s military’s crackdown on the Rohingya people. The Gambia filed a lawsuit against Myanmar in the ICJ in November 2019 for failing to stop the genocide against the Rohingya or punish the perpetrators.

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The case, filed by Gambia, alleges that the Rohingya in Myanmar violated various anti-genocide memoranda and agreements by torturing the Rohingya. This case is not a criminal case against any individual, but an entire nation has been blamed for the genocide.

Earlier, at the request of Gambia, the ICJ issued an interim order on January 23, 2020 to The Hague in the Netherlands to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingya in Myanmar. Originally, the order was issued for the safety of the remaining 6 lakh Rohingyas in the country.

Specifically, the ICJ asked the Myanmar government to take four temporary measures. These include preventing genocide, ensuring that military and police forces do not commit genocide, preserving evidence of genocide, and reporting on compliance with these orders within 4 months. This report should be reviewed every 6 months. The ICJ issued the order on the basis of hearing the case.

However, Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar’s military junta of committing genocide, torture, violence, harassing arrests and other human rights abuses since the military coup in 2021. They allege that security forces killed about 1,500 people, including 100 children, and detained more than 11,000 people for harassment. Detainees include human rights activists, politicians, journalists and others. Those who tried to flee the Rakhine state were severely punished.

In 2019, the Myanmar government appointed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi to represent the country in the ICJ delegation. But during the 2021 coup, she was detained by the military. She was later sentenced to 150 years in prison in various cases. A panel consisting of six senior members of the military junta was then formed to represent the court.

Representatives from Myanmar and Gambia argued whether the ICJ has the authority to investigate and prosecute genocide allegations against Myanmar at the hearing. The hearing was held in a hybrid format in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Earlier, Myanmar security forces cracked down on Rohingyas on several occasions. Bangladesh is still a shelter. Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar became the largest shelter in the world. Bangladesh has held several talks with the Myanmar government on Rohingya repatriation. Although an agreement was reached between the two countries in December 2016, the result was zero. In this situation, after the army coup in February last year, it also fell into disrepair.

Despite repeated repression of the Rohingya, Western countries, including the United States, have been limited to condemnation. The United Nations has not taken any action, citing reports of genocide after an investigation by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Rakhine. That is why millions of Rohingya are now waiting for the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

We hope thxat this crisis will be resolved soon. A political solution to the Rohingya issue is essential for lasting peace, stability, and security in the region. The regional crisis is also growing. The locals are suffering from various problems due to Rohingyas. The only way to resolve the crisis is to send the Rohingya back to Myanmar as soon as possible.

Last Thursday (February 24), Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the attack on Ukraine. In response, the United States and its Western allies have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia. Eventually a full-fledged war broke out between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow on Thursday launched an attack on neighboring Ukraine, which is seen as a new crisis in the world. which has been devastated by the quake. Observers say it is the largest attack in any European country since World War II. Although traditional media constantly focuses on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it should be remembered that the world is trying to balance many refugee crises internationally. Each conflict, each culture, each crisis, and each refugee count in the international arena of our world. 

Jubeda Chowdhury

Jubeda Chowdhury is a freelance writer with a Master's Degree in International Relations from the University of Dhaka.

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