Applaud Burma And Bangladesh For Rohingya Refugee Accord – OpEd


The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, the two comparatively economically and technologically less-developed Asian countries, have exhibited extraordinary qualities of wisdom and understanding to reach an accord for peaceful repatriation of Rohingya refugees, who are now in Bangladesh, to return to Myanmar.

When the so-called economically and technologically developed countries are engaged in bitter conflicts directly or indirectly in various parts of the world, these two Asian countries have shown to the world as to how civilized behavior between two countries is possible, however under developed they may be.

Apart from this fact, the Rohingya crisis once again has highlighted the ground reality that the United Nations Organization has virtually become a helpless agency that is not able to influence or implement any positive peace accord anywhere in the world. In the conflicts between different nations, the UN at best provides a forum for exchange of views and perhaps bitter remarks but could serve no other purpose.Bangladesh and Myanmar governments have virtually received no support from the UN in resolving the Rohingya crisis.

According to United Nations, more than 6,20,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August,2017. They now live in squalor in what is described as the world’s largest refugee camp.

While the UN, USA and several other countries condemned the Myanmar government for the lakhs of refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, terming it as constituting “ethical cleansing, it is remarkable that the government of Bangladesh, which is the one directly affected by the influx of refugees from Myanmar, reacted with caution and understanding and did not unduly criticize the Myanmar government. Despite of the extremely difficult conditions faced by Bangladesh as thousands of refugees walked in into its territory, still the Bangladesh government kept the communication channel open with Myanmar. Such healthy and civilized approach of the Bangladesh government have now made the accord with Myanmar to reach a repatriation agreement possible.

Showing high level of lack of understanding of the ground realities in Myanmar, the UN and several countries including USA accused Myanmar of launching military crackdown on Rohingyas. Several so called human rights activists even called for withdrawing the Nobel Peace Prize accorded to Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, (a position akin to Prime Minister )

The fact is that the Rohingya issue have been haunting Myanmar for the last several decades and it is not a problem that has happened after Aung San Suu Kyi has taken over,.

This is a case of typical conflict of interests between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists, with militant groups infiltrating into the Rohingya camp and waging violent conflict. It was a serious law and order scenario. Any government has to necessarily react with force when such conflicts between two sections of people happen, to restore peace and harmony. Every country in the world including Russia, China and United States have used such force to quell riots when violent clashes take place in the country. In the case of Myanmar, the military has to come down heavily ,since section of Rohingyas armed themselves, obviously with the support of militant and terrorist groups from elsewhere and indulged in arson and killings.

Rohingyas in Myanmar are people living in extreme poverty conditions, with little education. Most of the Rohingyas are not part of the militant group who indulged in violence and they had to face the brunt of the fight between the army and Rohingya militants and have to helplessly run to Bangladesh to save themselves.

After so many anxious days of Rohingya refugees running towards Bangladesh in big number, what need to be recognized is the fact that Myanmar government has not disowned the Rohingyas and is willing to take them back and do whatever it can to settle them in Myanmar. This attitude of Myanmar government effectively disproves the allegation of the UN and USA that Myanmar was indulging in ethnic cleansing.

What is particularly shocking is that the United Nations Refugee Agency has raised concern about the repatriation agreement instead of welcoming it. UN agency says that the conditions to enable refugees to safely return of Rakhine state in Myanmar are not there.

Instead of taking a proactive stance towards this healthy and progressive repatriation agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, the UN is taking a negative and counter productive stand ,which is not in tune with the objectives and cherished goals of the UN. Let the UN do whatever it can to facilitate implementation of the agreement in the best manner possible instead of behaving like an armchair critic.

The attitude and approach of Myanmar government towards the Rohingya refugees is in sharp contrast to the attitude and approach of Chinese government towards Tibetan refugees. Obviously, this highlights the fact that one need not expect that economically and militarily strong nation will always adopt civilized and compassionate approach towards its neighbors.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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